Race: The Capitol Hill Classic 10K
Start time: 05/21/06, 8:30am
Location: Downtown Washington DC
Distance: 10K (6.2 miles)
Run:Walk ratio: 6:1
Finishing time: 57:30
Average pace: 9:16min/mile
With my last race I was mentally composing a journal entry five seconds into the race about how I knew I wasn’t going to get a PR. Around mile 3 today, I was wondering why I hadn’t already done the same thing.
But let’s rewind a bit. Readers of my other journal will know that I’d been feeling like I was dragging and just generally not up to par all weekend, and this morning was unfortunately no exception. Cal told me that ten seconds into the race today he was thinking, “Why am I here?” and that’s actually what was going through my head before I’d even left my home. Ugh. I got to the start of the race, though, and found a pack of AIDS Marathoners to start with. We were all going to be runnign different speeds, though, so it was with a bit of regret that I realized I’d be running this one on my own again. I was hoping to have someone to pace off of; this year I’ve felt like several times I’ve headed out of the gate too fast (races or otherwise) and was afraid that we’d get a repeat performance of this bad running behavior. Sure enough the first two miles were just that (8:13, 8:30) and I just knew that I wasn’t going to be able to maintain this pace. (It was also around this time I was wishing that it was a 5K because I like to think I could’ve kicked it out on the final 1.1 miles.)
Sweltering in the sun (it was 52 degrees when I left, but the heat and sun seem to have shown up five minutes later), I hit the third mile marker at 9:50 and I could just feel my heart sink. My previous PR was a 9:22min/mile pace and I spent a lot of the rest of the race diong math in my head, trying to figure out how many extra seconds I had “banked” from the first two miles to see if I could beat that. Mile 4’s time looked the same (9:48) but it was also a two-walk-break mile so I felt like I was starting to rally a bit. Sure enough, mile 5 was at a 9:29 and I began to think that yeah, I could do this so long as I didn’t bomb out. “All right, Greg,” I told myself. “You just finished mile 5 and your time is a 45:53. To beat last year’s 58:06 you just need to finish the last 1.2 miles in 12 minutes. That’s a 10-minute pace. No problem.”
What I really need to be thinking at this point of a race is really “don’t forget that you still have to climb Capitol Hill before you hit mile marker 6.” Ugh, ugh, ugh. I hate that stupid hill with a passion, to put it mildly. Struggling back up the hill, even though I’d taken my walk break just two minutes earlier I just couldn’t do it. I was out of gas. I finally told myself I could walk for an additional minute and that I’d make up the time once it leveled out a bit. Walking up even part of the hill felt like… well, defeat. At the same time, I kept scanning the side of the course for the mile marker. Where was it? Where was it?
And there it was. 9:53 for the mile. I could still do this, I’d get a PR, and it wouldn’t be the one I wanted as of yesterday but it would still be an improvement and a real victory. I pushed through the last .2 miles as best as I could, and while my old adrenaline burst never did hit (ah well) it was all over in just 1:44, for a new PR of 57:30.
Phew. Not my most glamorous race, and I didn’t feel strong the way I did after the race last year… but I did it, and it’s done. Now I just need to really start getting out there regularly again (and drop off these extra five pounds that have once more come back to haunt me) and all will be well. I hope!
2005: 315/386 (81st percentile) (30-39 group)
2006: 166/233 (71st percentile) (30-34 group)