30 December 2006
After the half marathon I started looking forward to the Lasse Viren 20k. A beautiful semi-trail run down near Pt. Mugu. Or it’s a beautiful run if it’s dry.
I woke the day before that race to find it was raining. The forecast called for more rain overnight and showers the next morning. It did not look promising for the race — so I decided, instead, to do my normal Saturday workout with Rusty.
Of course the rain Saturday morning was the only rain we saw, and Sunday dawned bright and sunny. But it was too late for me, I can’t race the day after one of Rusty’s workouts.
Instead, in the workout, we ran 6.3 miles, the first mile at 6:40 pace and the rest at 6:20. Or that was the plan. The first mile was at pace, but the rest were all a little fast — except for the final mile which we pushed and got down to 6:07. It turned out we had averaged 6:20 for the entire run. Now a 10k is slightly shorter than 6.3 miles (it’s 6.21miles)… and that worked out to a 39:21 for a 10k — which was about 20seconds faster than my best 10k.
I mentioned this to Rusty and he said “Next time you’re breaking 39.” That seemed feasible. The obvious “next time” was the Resolution Day 10k.
Actually I thought that if I could run 6:20s in a training run, I could probably do 6:10s in a race, which would be 38:20 or so.
Then the week before the race Rusty suggested I buy a pair of racing flats, and said he thought that I might break 38. That seemed far less likely. Thank goodness there were no more weeks and he wouldn’t be able to suggest I go even faster.
Er… well I saw Rusty the day before the race… and bless me if he didn’t mention 37:30 — but he added, only if I were to spend 6 weeks training for a 10k.
I’ve never worn racing flats before. A little scared of them given my record of leg problems. Nevertheless, I went down to SB Running to buy some. “You won’t be able to wear your orthotics,” says Joe, “but for a short race like a 5 or 10k that should be fine.” That’s even more scary. Yet when I check with Mike, he says the same.
The racing flats are light. I don’t feel them. It’s as though there were nothing on my feet. Two days before the race Rusty has me run easy and then do some strides in them… my legs seem to fly.
Rusty warns me not to go out too fast what with adrenaline and light shoes, “You don’t want to run the first mile at 5:40.” Right. Come on Rusty, I don’t run 5:40s. A few hours later I realize, “Oh, yeah. We did do about a 5:40 mile on Tuesday.” But Melissa set that pace, not I. But I kept up with it. Maybe I do have to worry about going out that fast.
I seem to think of a 6 minute mile as an insuperable barrier. Which is ridiculous. I know I ran an 18:22 5k this winter, and that’s 5:55min/mile. I should stop thinking of mile times, there’s nothing magical about breaking the 3:44min/km.
It’s just hard.
Race day came. And it was cold. Frost outside my house and all over my car. Biking to the start was bitterly cold. But the sun was coming up on clear skies. An orange light out by the Islands. Beautiful.
I didn’t race the 5k, but I ran it as a warm-up. Steve Miley was also not racing the first race, and we trotted along together going about 8 minute miles. Steve said it was 28° at his house this morning. But it’s hard not to try when everyone else is pushing around you, and we did our second mile at a 7 minute pace. After that we consciously slowed.
Then I changed into my new flats and did some strides. Had a gel pack and some water and it was time to line up for the 10k. At least it had warmed up a bit; I could run in shorts and singlet now.
I crowded up to the front of the line. Rusty had said he thought I might come in 5th. I thought he was joking. Still most people will have put their energy into the 5k because it’s the Gran Prix race. Anyway we’re off.
To my surprise I find I’m in 3rd place. Garrett and Aaron are not far in front and there’s no one else around. Am I going out too fast after all? It doesn’t feel like a killing pace, but … shouldn’t Aaron be further ahead than that? On the other hand they both did the 5k, maybe this is an easy pace for them. Er… should I be up with them then?
Someone zooms past me. Todd Booth. Ok, he belongs in front of me too. He joins the other two and slows down.
At the half mile mark they still are only 30 feet or so in front of me. I look down to check my time. 0:00. Damn, I didn’t start the watch properly. I start it now. Am I going too fast?
At the mile mark I see 2:58. So I’m going a little faster than I expected, but not horribly so. And I feel good.
The 10k course just does the 5k course twice. As we reach the 2.5k turn-around Aaron has pulled ahead of the other two, and then, as I pass it, I get to see who is behind me. Kornell. Is a lot closer than I thought anyone could be and me not be aware of it. Oh well, if he passes me, he passes me.
Some idiot on inline skates is heading directly toward me as she looks over her shoulder at the people behind her. Get out of my way!
And she does.
At the 2 mile mark my split was 6:00. Wow. I probably won’t keep this pace up the whole race, but I don’t think I’ll fade by much.
At the 3 mile mark my split was 6:05. Ah. I’m starting to fade. Even so, as long as I don’t fade too badly I’ve knocked 25 seconds off the 38:20 time a 6:10 pace would give me… with luck I’ll break 38 minutes. Maybe Rusty was right after all.
At the start/finish we loop around again, and there are spectators who cheer me on. I’m still in 4th place, but Garrett and Todd aren’t really in sight any more. Again I can’t hear anyone behind me. It’s easier to push when there’s some competition.
At the 4 mile my split is 6:04. Well… maybe I’ll hold a 6:05 pace rather than a 6:10. That would be nice.
I approach the 7.5k turn-around with its water stand. Do I want water? My mouth is weird, the saliva has become semi-dehydrated mucus and sometimes interferes with my breathing. Every now and then I spit it out but it comes back. Sometimes I just drool down my chin (doubtless I look a mess). Do I want water? It would probably be a good idea… but I don’t know that I could swallow it, and I’d have to slow. It’s only a 40 minute race, I’ll be ok.
I’m feeling really tired as I round the turnaround, I think the sharp turn puts extra stress on my left gluteus (or one of those rotator muscles), but it calms down after another quarter mile or so.
At the 5 mile my split is 5:53. Well, no wonder I felt tired.
I’m on the bike path which is thronged with tourists walking, totally oblivious to the fact that they are in the middle of a race course. I have to weave through them.
At the 6 mile my split is 5:54. Why aren’t I done? How much longer do I have to keep this up? It’s less than a quarter of a mile, less than 1:30 at this pace, but oh it’s hard.
Here’s the final bend in the bike path, and I see the clock. I watch the seconds tick up: :55, 56, 57 … Damn it! I was sure I was going to break 38, I try sprinting, but it’s just too far, :01 … I ease up slightly in disappointment. Oh well. It’s still a significant PR even if it’s just over 38. I cross the line.
Garrett congratulates me on running a 37 minute 10k. Hunh? No, it was just over 38. Wait… I never looked at the minutes, could it have been 37? Could I have just missed breaking into 36?
37:05. Fourth overall. First in my division. Two and a half minutes faster than my previous fastest race. First time I’ve broken 80% (80.82%)
And I broke the insuperable barrier with an average mile time of 5:59, and a kilometer time of 3:42.
It must have been the shoes.