Wherein I run a Tempo Run instead of a 10K race...
Isn't it funny how easy it is after a race to look back and go, "Oh yeah, of course. Why couldn't I see that before the race?". I definitely had one of those 'hindsight is 20/20' moments during this race, and it occurred at exactly Mile 2.
Here's how it all unfolded:
First, a little bit about the course. The race starts with a steep downhill half mile, which is worrisome given that it's an out and back course. You can see from the graphic the steep drop at the beginning then the uphill climb at the end. It is pretty flat as advertised throughout the rest of the race and the turn-around point running through Amboy Park along the river is great.
So, we're off, and I immediately feel like this is not going to be my usual 10K experience. There's no massive adrenaline rush, and even though we're running downhill, I am not flying like I thought I'd be. I was just sitting back, totally within myself, waiting for the 1st mile to finish, so I could make whatever adjustment I was going to make. Robot mode.
Mile 1 goes by in 7:59, and I realize there will be no speeding up today. It's not that I'm having a bad day. I don't feel tired. I just feel slow. Of course, that's when it all becomes crystal clear. My "Aha!" moment: The fastest pace I've been running in the last 4 weeks is Half Marathon pace, or 8:22. So why would I think my body would do anything other than what it's been trained to do- lock on to 8:17 to 8:22 pace, and run for either 4 miles or 3 x 2 miles? I wouldn't, of course.
Yeah, I know. Mile 2 of a race is a terrible time to have this kind of mental clarity. But it was too late to do anything about it, so I set my hurt pride aside, and settled in for a Tempo workout.
7:59 Downhill Mile
8:42 Uphill Mile
At Mile 2, I found myself behind a guy and a girl running together. The guy was wearing a Thunder Road Marathon shirt, as was I , so I tucked in behind them. Apparently, they too had been running nothing faster than tempo pace.
As I hit the turnaround, and I hear a "Go, Psyche!" from Jeff Carnivale, who was looking strong, and yes, I was jealous. Damn him, he's fast!
Around Mile 4, my marathon guy says to his friend, "We're still running 8's. Oh, well." I think to myself, "I feel ya, buddy."
I pulled myself up the final hill, still feeling strong and slow. As I crossed the finish line in a pathetic 51:57, my only thought was, "I do not want to run any more races I'm not trained for."
1. Don't expect to hold race goal pace unless you've been training for it.