First off - I LIKE this race for a number of reasons. I was able to meet up with a couple of friends before the race, and hang out with them afterward. I'm new to the running community and sort of awkward socially, so I've usually shown up to races with a heavy bent on competition and less focus on socializing. Mind you - when I'm running I'm still 100% competing, but it's nice to have have a relaxed group of friends before and after the run.
It is also a "point to point" race which I've never done before. The route starts at Mt. Vernon and follows the George Washington Parkway (GW) to downtown Alexandria....pretty much going North the whole time. I generally like the idea of this and appreciate the extra cost / Logistics the race organizers must have to put up with to make it happen. On the down side, this also means a bus ride from the finish back up to the start...which requires an even earlier arrival to the race. But overall, I like the idea. The GW is also a beautiful run....even when you are bouncing off "red line" for an hour....
I've only been able to actually "train" for this race for a couple weeks (prior to two weeks ago I was in marathon recovery mode). I've been able to get in a few workouts to practice my pace, and they weren't bad. McMillan says my pace should be 6:25...so that's the plan....start our at 6:25 and adjust based on how I feel. The route is also a net downhill of about 100 ft. - a lot of it coming the first mile. Thought is, I can use that to squeeze a few seconds off the time, and come in under 1:04.
My drive to the race is about an hour. A friend of mine who lives close to the race was kind of to let me park at his house, shuttle me to the bus pick-up, and generally help guide me around. I haven't been to Alexandria before...so this was VERY helpful and removed a lot of pre-race stress! Having said all that, we agreed to meet at 6:00, which results in an alarm time of 4:05 to get my ass out of bed, eat my pre-race breakfast, "Process", drive, etc. (this is where I like Sunday races...I can still get in decent sleep by going to bed Saturday nigh...would be harder to do Friday night).
I arrived on time, we took the short drive and parked close to the bus pick-up area and arrived at the race start around 7:00. Giving us an hour to settle in prior to the gun. The race provided coffee and snacks before the race, which was really nice! I was afraid to eat anything, but did take a gel and drink a little bit of coffee, and really appreciated the gesture.
I don't know any other group of people in the world that discuss weather more than us runners (maybe meteorologists, but I doubt it). For this course tho, it matters more than usual...
This is a point to point race, so there's no "turning back into the wind", or "making up time when with the wind later". If the wind is consistent, then it's either helping the whole time or not. Weather Underground reported wind from the NNE @ 6-8 mph.. The course is generally going north, so we will running into the wind THE. WHOLE. RACE. So...2nd race strategy, draft, Draft, DRAFT. I learned this from cycling, and if done correctly I can almost eliminate the extra effort of going into the wind...almost. Other than the wind, the weather was just about perfect; 50 degrees and overcast.
Yes, I broke the cardinal rule of running in (almost) new shoes for this race. For races between 10k and HM, I've been using NB 1600's. They weigh in about 5 oz, and make me feel fast. I put them on last Saturday for an 11 mile run, and I realized they are pretty worn out, and I started to get a blister on a couple of my right toes (I hadn't worn them since a HM last November). So...I logged onto to Running Warehouse and saw Nike Zoom LT3's on sale. The weight was about the same as the 1600's and the drop almost the same, so I ordered a pair - taking a chance as I have never run in Nike's before. I like them, they fit pretty well, felt fast, and didn't hurt my feet (the triumvirate).
So, how did the race go? Mile by mile breakdown below....
- Mile 1 (6:06)- about 80' downhill from Mr. Vernon hilltop. I "tried" to control myself, relax, and "flow" down the hill without going too fast. Sort of did it. In a pretty big crowd the whole time....
- Mile 2 (6:12) - Still in a pretty big group. Cruising, and making sure I'm staying tucked behind someone to avoid any headwind...slightly down hill.
- Mile 3-5 (6:27 / 6:21 / 6:25). All three of these miles were slightly uphill, and the crowd is now thinned out. I was able to get behind a pretty big dude, and let him block for me. This is about the pace I was expecting to run, but I was feeling surprisingly good.
- Mile 6 (6:09) - another downhill mile. Somewhere around the end of mile 5 moved around Big Dude and closed a gap of about 50 meters to a another runner in front of us. This new companion will be named "Oven mitt", because that's what he was wearing - oven mitts on his hands in 50 degree weather. He took water at the water station and opened and ate a gel with them on. Impressive. The downhill mile helped me stay relaxed and still feeling good with Oven Mitt blocking for me.
- Mile 7 (6:18) - Somewhere during mile 7 I went around Oven Mitt and got behind a young woman with a Pony Tail. She must have been in 2nd place for all women, as a few times someone in the crowd would yell just that at us. Around this time another Tall Guy joined us. So, it was a group of 3. Tall Guy looked like about my age, so I had a new mission...hang with Pony Tail and beat Tall Guy.
- Mile 8 (6:19) - Still the 3 of us together, with Pony Tail making the pace and blocking (no chivaltry in racing). Now I'm feeling it....my goal is just to not get dropped.
- Mile 9 (6:29) - We're now in Old Town Alexandria with some rolling hills. I'm hurting, and the 3 of us are still together...don't get dropped by Pony Tail.
- Mile 10 (6:09) - Right as mile 10 started we hit a pretty steep short hill (maybe 200 meters). Pony Tail turned it on and went with her, dropping Tall Guy. Then, over the top of the hill, down the back side, turn left and head for home. The last straight away is about 1200 meters, perfectly straight, and slightly uphill. I could tell Pony Tail was picking up the pace and I stayed with her as long as I could, but he pulled away and ended up beating me by 3-4 seconds. Tall Guy fell back about 20 seconds behind us.
- Last Bit: 14 seconds. Garmin has me finishing 10 miles in 1:02:50. And running an actual distance of 10.03. Pretty good working the tangents which was easy on this course as we followed GW Parkway almost the whole way....
Feeling really good about this race. The highlight of the Spring. My marathon training fitness must have held up pretty well, even after 4 weeks of recovery, to help me get to such as fast time.
Lotsa' stats below....
Shout out to Kyle and Sherri for letting a funny looking dude into their house at 5:45 am on a Sunday and driving me to the bus shuttle, and cheering / supporting me.
I really do like the running community. Every single person I meet are genuinely good and supportive folk.
Overall pretty happy with the effort. And, a PR! (jk, my FIRST 10 miler).
Question: Speaking of PR's...Strava has that I ran a 10k during the race in 38:59; much faster than my current 10k PR. So...is it "Legal" for me to use this as my new 10k PR?
Now, what's next? Maybe the Loudoun mile in Winchester next month! That would be first as well.....