I was a little nervous coming into this event, as I had not done a stand-alone running event in quite some time. In the two weeks leading up to the event, however, I completed six track sessions to start building speed, so I was curious to see how much I have improved.
The event was an extremely flat 10K road race, taking place in Walnut Creek. Via my track sessions, I projected that I could run at approximately 5:55/mile through the distance of the race. However, I made the decision to not use my GPS watch and to instead race by feel, and thus I had to gauge my pace every six minutes or so as I ran through mile markers.
I immediately took off at a pace that felt faster than a 6-minute mile, though I still felt in control. My legs were feeling quite fresh, but still fit, as I really focused on a structured taper leading up to this race: my last track session was four days out of the race, while the three days leading up to the race consisted of strictly low-intensity runs. There were a solid amount of people to pace with, as the 5K event was going on simultaneously, which helped keep me motivated to put the work in.
I ran through the first mile in 5:32, which I found quite shocking: it certainly didn’t seem like I was running that fast! Nonetheless, I tried to keep the pace up, and ended up rolling through the second mile marker at the exact same pace. The race has a nice vibe to it: the volunteers and spectators would were very enthusiastic, and the city of Walnut Creek appeared to be very supportive of the event. By the time I ran through the 5K marker in 17:07 (5:31/mile), the competition was clearly defined, as the 5K runners were finishing their event. At one of the turns, I was able to see that I was currently sitting in the top-10, though I was never sure of my exact position.
Miles four and five were definitely the toughest on my head, as I wasn’t sure if I could sustain this pace for another 17 minutes. However, I kept reminding myself to trust in my fitness, and thus I was able to keep the pace up. I came through the 8K (5-mile) mark in 27:45 (5:33/mile) before beginning to feel quite nauseous! In retrospect, my pre-race breakfast (a large, toasted ham and cheese bagel) was likely too heavy on my stomach. This resulted in a slow closing mile, and I began to witness a few competitors in front me begin to pull away. As I ran through the six-mile marker, I could start to see the finishing area up in the distance, and thus adrenaline began to take over. I ended up running through the finishing chute in a little over 35 minutes, for 8th place overall.
Overall time (mm:ss): 35:27 (5:43/mile)
Place: 8th / 1560 overall, 2nd / 37 in Men 16-19
I was pretty satisfied with the results of this race! Though the pace dropped off significantly in the final mile, I believe this is an indicator that I could run closer to (if not under) 35 minutes in a well-paced effort. Thus, I’m planning on racing future events with a GPS watch like I did in the past, in an effort to better control my pacing.
I’ve gotten back into the grind of doing hard track workouts and running consistent mileage, which I believe are two of the biggest keys to racing the 10K well. I have a few more running events in the coming months, so I’m excited to see what kind of results I can put out!