Race Report: Newport Mesa 10K

Today I participated in the Newport Mesa 10K. The course is essentially a 3 mile out-and-back segment (completed once for the 5K, and twice for the 10K) around Fashion Island in Newport Beach, CA. I was honestly a little worried about how I would perform. My hip was swill in pain from my crash last Sunday, and I was struggling to hold 8:00/mile the previous day (though my overall training suggested a pace of 5:50/mile over this course and distance).

(Photos will be posted as they become available)

Pre-Race

I definitely had a “Jakob moment” the morning of the race. I woke up at 4:30 (as planned), and came to the decision that I shouldn’t race in an effort to avoid injury (I’ve been having hip pain running at paces faster than 6:30/mile). But really, I just wanted to go back to sleep (and sleep in, of course). Fortunately, I set a backup alarm that went off at 5:30am. I then made a more rational decision: I will try to race, and if I’m in too much pain I will slow down or drop out.

The problem? I had to bike to the event, which was 18 miles away and had a start time of 7:00am. I threw my bag together as quickly as possible, and tossed a bagel and banana (~450 kcal) in my jersey pocket to eat on the ride. I left at 5:40am, and came to the realization that I could get to the venue in around an hour without pushing myself too hard. Other than some stomach cramps introduced after eating my breakfast, the ride was quite relaxing and stress free. I rolled into the venue just after 6:40am.

I had to lock my bike up, fill out some paperwork to pick up my bib, and change my clothes in under 15 minutes. It was starting to look like the Dino Dash 10K from last November. I ran over to the start line at 6:58am as they were singing the National Anthem. I spent those precious two minutes tying my shoes, attaching the timing chip, and pinning my bib onto my jersey. As I was pinning the last corner the gun went off.

Race

I had to spend the first 30 seconds passing slower runners (again) and was already off the lead pack as we began the first climb. We were running two 5km (3.1-mile) loops: the first mile is almost completely uphill, although it wasn’t very steep (~120ft ascent). The second mile continues up the hill, plateau’s out for 600m or so, and then begins to descend. The third mile is almost completely downhill, bringing us back to the start (and finish) line.

I came through the first mile in 5:52 (normalized pace of ~5:38/mi), finally catching up to some of the faster runners. However, I knew that a few guys took off at around a 5:00/mile pace, so I had no idea what position I was in. I passed the lead female (who I later learned was Olympic Silver Medalist Julie Ertel) halfway through the second mile, just before we started the descent. I eventually caught up to two male competitors. I came through mile two in 5:39 (normalized pace of ~5:35/mi) still feeling relatively fresh, though I began to experience some stomach pain as a result of my poor breakfast planning.

On the descent in mile three I had a chance to lengthen my stride a bit and pick up some speed. Unfortunately, this introduced some stress in my hip, causing me to make the very difficult (but smart) decision to take it easy. It quite was frustrating watching the two guys in front of me pull away. I came through mile three in 5:43, netting myself a PR in both the 3-mile (17:14, 5:45/mile) and the 5K (17:48) which was pretty cool. Though at the time, I didn’t think much of it because of the pain in my hip.

The second loop was rather frustrating: I knew I had to slow down or risk injury. I ran the ascent of mile four at a place that felt incredibly slow (6:16/mile). Although this did not make the pain go away, it definitely helped to pacify it. During mile five I was passed by two other males. It was honestly nice to see some other competitors because I was running by myself for a good fifteen minutes. I came through mile five in 6:03 as I began the descent to the finish. The rest of the race was pretty uneventful: I ran mile six in 6:12 and the final 400m at a 5:59/mile pace.

I ran through the finish in 37:3X, which seemed a little slow to me. I checked my watch and it clocked in 6.32 miles: 200 meters (about 45 seconds) too long. I confirmed this distance with other competitors who all got distance readings of 6.3X miles. I just did the math with the pace for every mile and calculated my 10K time to be 36:50 (5:56/mile). I ended up finishing in 13th place overall and 1st place in the M16-19 age group.

Conclusion

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Despite the pain, I was stoked with my performance. My times in the first 5km indicate that I am in better shape than I initially thought. I’m hoping to get my hip rested and healed before next Sunday, when I am competing in the Coaster 10K at Knotts Berry Farm on a course that (I believe) is dead flat. If that is possible, I think I have the ability to run a time in the low 35 minute range (5:40-5:45/mi) which would be an awesome PR!

Official time: 37:38
10K time: 36:50 (5:56/mile)
Place: 13th/228 overall, 1st/8 M16-19

Full results: http://results.active.com/events/newport-mesa-spirit-run-2013/10k-run-walk?&sort=finish_time&direction=asc

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