That was the goofiest 10K I ran yet.
Some background – I have volunteered as a pacer for the Oakland marathon, but there’s a requirement to have paced before. This sounds a little Catch-22, but is understandable. It’s acceptable to have paced a non-marathon, like for instance an LMJS 10K. So I thought I would do that in the new year, and showed up for Sundays race all ready to deep-six my pathetic old 10K PR.
While we were standing around yakking before the start, I had a sudden realization. I can’t do it next month, because I’m co-directing that race, and there is no 10K in February because of the Couples Relay. Gotta do it today!
I found Melissa, the marathon pace coordinator. “OK” she said. “What mile pace do you want? We’re about to announce the pacers”.
“Um er, Eight minutes?”
And off I went to the start line. Argh! Why didn’t I pick 7:30? My legs know that one.
“Um anyone know what finish time 8:00 would give me?”
“50 minutes” said a voice, and we were off.
Hm. going to have to check that 50:00 thing. I was not wearing the Garmin, which has been a bit flaky lately. This is two laps around a 5K course, with mile markers at mile 1 and 2. These are of course wrong for the second lap, so I’d have to figure out something for that too. Is this too fast? Shouldn’t there be more people in front of me? It looks a little sparse up there. Worry worry.
First mile marker: 7:43. Ouch. Slow down, relax, watch the ducks and boats on the lake. Someones was passing me, good. It takes an effort of will not to speed up when there’s a sweaty hard-breathing guy on your shoulder.
Mile 2 split: 7:51. I really thought I’d slowed more than that. Gotta put on the brakes some more. I had a plan for the mile markers now. I’d simply hit the split button as I crossed the start line, so I’d have two meaningful per-mile splits during lap two. The field was quite spread out now, but I was catching someone who had slowed. “Are you the 50-minute guy?” he asked. “Yes. Actually I’m a little ahead of that, but I’m making adjustments”. He looked crestfallen. I thought about cajoling him to run with me, but it seemed hopeless. He had plainly gone out way too fast and was fading badly.
The first mile of lap two was 8:03, Good, giving some of that time back. Now, about that finish time... One benefit of running slowly is that I was still able to do math. 5K is 6.2 miles, so 8 times 6 and 1/5 is …. 49:36 exactly. Glad I figured that out.
Next split: 8:09. Good. Still need to slow a bit.
Dawdle dawdle.. Here comes the finish, with the clock. Maybe four seconds early. I slowed down and bunny-hopped across the line to the amusement of the timekeepers. Only two seconds early. So now that’s done.
I was amused to discover I’d placed third in my age group. It was a useful exercise though. I’ll need to go slower than that in the marathon – 3:40 is 8:23 average pace – but the hill will help. The time that it adds will probably mean running about 8:10 on the flat, and there will be 26 markers for me to keep track. I might even measure how far apart the streetlamps are on the first part of the course so I can get my pace accurately dialed in within the first few hundred yards – something Garmins are are not too good at. Speaking of Garmins, mine is having problems. It turns itself off mid run-even though it’s well charged. I’ll try the big reset, and see if there’s a software upgrade, but maybe its time has come. I’m in no big rush to replace it. It would make a change to time myself over measured distances for a while, and train my builtin pace-keeper.
2009 – Three marathons, two half marathons, a 10 mile trail race, 15K, a 10K, and a 5K, That’s all the racing I did. Not much, really.
Of these, just two were not PRs, The 10K was held in San Francisco’s Chinatown in wind and torrential rain in February. Fun in a splashy way, but not fast. The other one was the Big Sur Marathon, which rather famously is not a PR course!
So the newbie improvement curve is continuing with the help of some serious mileage. Last week I passed the 3,000 mile mark for the year. I must admit that these back-to-back marathon training cycles are becoming stale. So here’s the loose plan for 2010.
Boston is the next goal race, but just to make things a bit more interesting I’ll be leading a pace group in the Oakland Marathon three weeks beforehand. As my final long run of training it will be over-length and slightly fast, but I don’t care. My pace will be 3:40 over a course with a 600 ft hill in the first half.
The other marathon I run next year will likely be New York, which gets Cathi’s vote. I’ll skip San Francisco, maybe run the half. In the summer I’ll attack the shorter distances which I have so neglected in my training.
I’ll likely dip my toes into the barefoot/minimal shoe thing soon. My gait still needs a little work, and that should help it.