Pineland Striders Independence 10k Pre-Race:
This was a local 10k about twenty minutes from my house so the only race related activity was filling out the entry form online a few months in advance.
One interesting thing to note is that this race came at the tail end of my first week using my custom McMillan Running NYC Marathon training plan which consisted of the following:
- Tuesday: Approx 10 miles with 20 mins in the 6:40/mile range (VO2Max)
- Wednesday: 75 min easy (9 1/4 miles at 8:00/mile), temps in the 80′s.
- Thursday: Sprint/Leg turnover workout (9 miles with Strides). Outside temp above 90 degrees.
- Friday: 40 mins easy (approx 5 miles, outside temp above 95 degrees)
Now Greg knew I had this race on the schedule and with my goal of breaking 3 hours at NYC in November I stuck to the training plan in full, not at all concerned about my time. It was forecast to be in the mid-80′s with humidity for gun time so I was looking at this as another opportunity to get in more speed work in adverse conditions.
Pineland Striders Independence 10k Race Day:
When I first checked the weather at 6:30AM the temperature was 78 degrees and with the rain the night before I knew the humidity was going to be up there. After a quick banana and Gatorade breakfast I headed out to the race which starts and ends at Shawnee High School in Medford, NJ. I got there about an hour prior to the 8:30AM gun time. Bib and t-shirt pickup was fast and easy so it was just a matter of doing warm ups and trying to stay cool for the next 50 minutes or so.
Start to Mile 2
I’ve experimented with going out harder on the 10k and shorter races recently just to see how I perform. I know that if I’m running for time my best strategy is to go out controlled and a little behind race pace and then work my way into the run and finish strong. Recently I’ve gone out hard and tried to hold on to see if I can eventually get my splits under 6 mins/mile at these distances. A PR was unlikely to happen at 85 degrees with the humidity but I was still curious so I went out hard. My goal was to get my splits in the 6:00 to 6:15 range and I hit that with my first two splits of 6:02 and 6:10.
Mile 3 to the Finish (or “Hey, it’s hot out here”)
After mile two the I was really stating to feel the heat and getting flashbacks to Boston in April. I pulled it back a bit to try to manage the heat but there wasn’t any way to cool off except to throw a cold cup of water down my back at every water stop. From mile 3 on I ran in surges. I would pick up the pace for a bit but then have to pull it back when my breathing got out of control. It was very frustrating to know your legs can go faster but your other physical systems can’t handle the load.
It’s at those times where it’s easy to get paranoid about how close someone might be behind you. At mile 2 I noticed I had a solid lead on the next runner behind me when we hit a turnaround point but when you know you’re slowing you always think someone is gaining on you. On race day I have a pretty hard rule of no looking back. I don’t look back because when I’m trailing and I see someone in front of me looking back I know they are in some kind of trouble and are starting to worry. That’s usually an opening for me and it gives me a shot of adrenaline because now they know I’m there. The whole hunter-hunted instinct kicks in and I get even more motivated to catch them.
The only time you can look back is if you’re in a hard turn and can do it discreetly. As luck would have it around mile 5 there was about a 135 degree turn as you came to the end of the school property line and then cut back to the track and the finish area. I was hot, tired and couldn’t resist so after hitting the turn and taking about 20 steps I looked out of the corner of my eye and turned my head just a bit to the left and looked… no one there, good deal. I waited another 15 secs or so and the combination of heat and curiosity got me again. I took a little harder look… still no one, great! Then for whatever reason I took one last Monty Python, whip my head around “stare” which lasted for several seconds. I saw no one at all in it what appeared to be about a quarter-mile or so of course behind me. I thought ‘OK, my place is locked in. It’s all about time now’.
As I hit the track with less than 300 meters to go I saw I was going to finish right around 40 minutes so with one last surge I squeaked in at 39:54. My splits for the last four miles were in the 6:20 to 6:45 range so you can see how much impact the weather had.
Overall I’m pleased with my performance. This was only the second time I broke 40 minutes in the 10k coming in 2nd in my age group and 9th overall. The winner of my age group came in at 37:55 so even on a day with ideal conditions I’m not sure if I would have gone under 38 minutes. No regrets on the pacing.
Pineland Striders Independence 10k Post Race:
Since I’m running a 5k on Wednesday in my hometown (a 5k I’ve tried to run for 5 years), Coach McMillan has given me Sunday and Monday off and just an easy 40 minutes on Tuesday. I had to look at it a few times to make sure I was reading it right. No long run on Sunday and two days off in a row? If I hadn’t been on a training plan I wouldn’t have let that slide and I’d probably be out there now slogging out 15 miles in 96 degree heat. Then I remembered that counting Saturday that was three days worth of speed work in a five-day period. Being prone to injury when I mix speed and too much distance I realized that Coach must know what he’s doing. What am I going to do with all my free time? I can hear the chorus of ‘Cross Training!!!’ so don’t worry, like I’d be just lounging on the couch. I may squeak in a nap though…