A few weeks ago Coach P. suggested that I run a 10k race to measure my progress. For 6 weeks I have been training specifically to improve my running economy and he felt that I could easily beat my current time of 59:23 at this distance. There aren’t many local 10k races at this time of year, but I found this one practically in my own backyard. Bonus… the race director is a member of my running group (Riverview Running Idiots) and I am happy to support her.
In the days leading up to the race, Coach P. and I discussed different race strategies and he gave me specific paces for each split. I was looking forward to the challenge of hitting these targets. The day before the event we realized that the weather was not going to be favorable and he told me to forget the paces that he had given me and to just go out there and give it a good effort. Oh.. and to have fun with it. We were expecting a strong tail wind on the first half of the race and he told me to go out fairly fast as the second half would be a lot slower with a headwind.
Race day weather was worse than we expected. I looked out my window at 6am to see a layer of fresh snow on the ground and could hear the wind howling outside. By race time the precipitation had turned to rain….yucky, cold slushy rain! The wind was coming from the wrong direction which meant that the first 5k would be against the wind. At this point I realized that it would be futile to even attempt to run this one with an eye on a PB. The weather was so crappy that I opted to forgo my usual 15 minute warm up jog and decided to stay inside ( warm and dry) and do dynamic stretches instead. At this point I decided to use the first 5k as a warm up and then push for a decent 5k time on the way back.
As race time approached we reluctantly moved outdoors to the Start area. The race director gave us some last minute instructions about running safely and then we were off! The trail was 100% slush! My feet were frozen for the first 10 or 15 minutes or so. The first km. was tough but I was surprised that my pace was faster than I had expected in these conditions. The wind was relentless and I was mentally counting down the minutes until we reached the halfway point and I could turn around.
It was a pleasure to run the entire distance with one of my running buddies, John. His pace is naturally faster than mine but he slowed down to a recreational pace to keep me company, for which I was grateful. We slogged along side by side, finally reaching the turnaround point where we could gratefully turn our backs to the wind. Ahhhh.. this was so much better. Our halfway time was just under 30 minutes and I realized that a Personal Best might be possible after all.
On the return trip we kept a steady pace even though the underfoot conditions got worse and worse. The final 2.5k was especially difficult as the 5k participants had really trampled the trail and it had become a mucky mess. As we neared the Finish Line I hit the proverbial Wall. I could barely lift my legs off the ground and I paused momentarily to dry heave before shuffling my way across the Finish Line for a time of 58:21…. a solid 63 seconds off my previous best. All the running economy training had paid off!
Bonus : John hit his 2018 target goal of 3000km at the 8km mark. It was an honor to share that moment with him.
I would recommend this race if you are looking for a late fall non-competitive event. It was well organized and punctual. Registration includes tech shirt and medal. This event attracts recreational runners and walkers, and it even has a kid’s option. It is a small community event which supports Special Olympics. A photographer was on hand to provide some fantastic photos of all participants. Kudos to the volunteers who stood outside in this crappy weather so the rest of us could play in the puddles.
Photo credit to Kris Acker