This morning’s 10K race was on the paths and trails in and around Cook Park in Tigard. Actually, it’s a three-city race, going through Tualatin Community Park and Durham City Park as well. (And no, I wasn’t sure if Durham was really an incorporated city until I looked it up.) Since I work in Tualatin, I’ve run these paths many times; you may recall such exciting posts as this or this.
The race was a fairly low-key affair, with maybe a couple hundred people turning out to run either the 5 or 10K. I jogged a while to warm up then we were off. My goal: 7:15 miles. Doubts ran through my mind during the first mile. After that I was working too hard to spend much time doubting.
Odd phenomenon: A year ago, I would have called 7:15 super-fast. And today it did feel like a lot of work. But looking at the people running around me, they didn’t look like they were going all that fast. They certainly weren’t sprinting. I wonder if that continues to hold true no matter how fast you get. (On the other hand, in my last marathon, I looked at the people around me around mile 20 and I was thinking “Wow! how do we keep running these 8:50s! Look at us go!” So I guess the phenomenon comes and goes, perhaps depending on how tired and/or demented you are at the time.)
I came off the start line way too fast and eased off through the first mile for a 7:06. After that, I just tried to keep up with whoever was in front of me. Mile two: 7:12, mile three: 7:12. That got us back to the finish line for the 5K runners, and I will admit I was hoping that more of the people I had been chasing would take the 5K turn! But no, most of them were in it for the long haul.
Mile four: 7:09. There were more little hills in this section and I found myself passing a couple of people. One woman in a white shirt with a ponytail was in sight ahead of me the whole race. I’d closed the gap a little, maybe down to 30 yards from 60. But she looked like she was running fairly easily up there.
Mile five: 7:13. You know, this was going pretty well. Fairly even splits, a little ahead of my pace goals. I say this now, sitting here and typing. At the time I felt like a lumbering gasping machine that should be put out of its misery.
Not long after mile five, we passed by the finish line. It was right over there, a few feet to the left. Instead, we were cruelly directed to turn right and run away from it for a while. These 10K races are so anal about actually being a full 10K!
This was the first race I have ever run where I started to care some about my individual place, instead of just racing against the clock and myself. I was now directly ahead of some guy I had passed near mile 4.5 and directly behind pony-tail woman, with maybe 30 yards separation from each. With 3/4 of a mile to go, I conceded the race to pony-tail woman and glanced back to check my lead on guy-I-passed. It looked like I had it made. All I had to do was not die.
Mile 6: 7:02. Don’t die don’t die don’t die. 10Ks are less fun than half marathons. (5Ks are even worse.) Not until the finish line was about 50 feet away did I feel pretty sure I was really going to make it. But I did, still between pony-tail-woman and guy-I-passed. Yay me!
Total time (unofficial, by my watch): 44:35. That’s a 7:10/mile average pace. New PR by 2:14!
After, I scarfed down some snacks, then ran a six-mile “cool-down.” The best part of that was when I hobbled past some race volunteers and they gamely cheered me on as a sadly waddling 10K runner. “No, no, I already finished the race!” I told them. I almost added “I’m not really this slow! Except after I nearly kill myself!”
Official results: 44:35. 7/66 finishers. First in my age group! (Out of, ok, yeah, four.) Still my first age group win! :-) Pony-tail woman turns out to be ultrarunner (and Hagg Lake co-organizer) Ronda Sundermeier, who blogs about her 10K here. I’m super proud to have almost kept up with her.