On Sunday I competed in my first official 10km road race. I was pretty excited to race this distance because I feel like this is the running event that I have the most talent for. I didn’t particularly taper for this race, as I put out a large number of miles throughout the week. The day before the race I had planned to do a 50-mile bike ride, but I realized that my legs were just too sore and I decided to just take it easy on Saturday. That made my legs a little more relaxed on race-day, though I definitely still had a lot of soreness and “heaviness” in my legs.
I woke up a little later than planned. However, we had more than enough time to get to the race site. For breakfast, I ate a banana and drank 700mL of water mixed with Cytomax. We got to the race site at 6:30, got registered, and I did a quick 1-mile warmup before the start of the event. Unfortunately, my blood sugar shot up just before the start of the race, so I had to take some insulin and bring shots bloks with me during the race.
There was both a 5k and 10k race planned for the same start time, so runners in different events would still be competing against eachother. The course was a 5k loop, and the runners in the 10k were to do the loop twice. The course reaches a significant climb about half a mile in. The climb is almost one mile long and about 300ft in elevation gain, yielding an average grade of 5.9%. I’ve been putting in a lot of hill training in the trails that I train on, so I knew I would have an advantage on a course like this.
The gun went off at 7:10, and I made sure to start near the front so I could stick near the lead pack. There were four or five of us that went off at a 6:10/mile pace: exactly where I wanted to be on the flats. We stayed as a group until the start of the climb. Here, I noticed everyone seemed to slow down significantly. I started to get frustrated with the [seemingly] slow pace, so I took off from the front of the group. I powered my way up the climb and was happy to make it to the top. When I turned around, I couldn’t see any runners, and I learned that I produced a gap of over one minute on the 1-mile climb. I poured water over my head at the first aid station as I smiled at all the wonderful volunteers. They were super supportive and made the whole event more exciting.
As I hit the downhills, I was trying to hold a pace of 5:45/mile, reminding myself that I still had quite a way to go and I still had to climb that hill again. I was still very much alone on the back end of the first loop, but the volunteers helped push me through it, and I felt strong enough to get through on my own. I finished the first 5km lap in 19:22 [6:15/mile], beating the overall 5k winner’s time [which was pretty cool]. I was very excited, and then I hit the hill again. Right when I made the turn to start the climb, I started to feel my blood sugar shoot down. I started to panic, lowering to an 8:00/mile pace [which was still rather competitive given the 6% grade]. I ate 5 of my shot bloks and told myself that I would be okay in just a few minutes. The volunteers pushed me to keep going and helped the pain [and time] pass by. As I started to crest the hill, my blood sugar started to come back up, and I was beginning to feel strong again.
I again tried to hold 5:45/mile on the downhills. I knew that I had lost some time on the second climb, so I needed to pick up the pace if I wanted to go sub-40 on this hilly course. Because I was on my second loop, the course was now filled with other 5k and 10k runners that I had to pass. This wasn’t too difficult, and it actually helped me feel less lonely out there. I still could not see the 2nd place runner for the 10k. When I got to the little out-and-back stretch right before mile 6, I was able to see that the runner behind me was about a minute back. I was running right at 6:00/mile on the flats and knew that if I could hold this pace I would get the overall win. I put my head down and pushed through the pain, finishing in a time of 39:07 [6:18/mile] and winning my first ever race!
I was very happy with the way I performed. I did well on a very challenging course, and even battled through some medical issues, but I was still able to run fairly well. Winning this race gave me a huge mental boost and definitely gave me more confidence in my abilities. This experience also further convinced myself of where my talent lies, and I definitely want to pursue more competitive racing at this distance in the future. I will be running at least two more 10k’s this year, and I am excited to see what kind of times I can put out on flatter and faster courses.
Next week I will be running the Halloween 10k put on by the Orangeman Running series. The course is literally on the trails that I train on every day, and even though it is certainly not a flat course, I think I’ll be able to get a solid PR next weekend.