It's now less than 48 hours from the start of my next race and I'm excited. Getting amped for it, and in doing so have to figure out some goals and challenges and some more pre-race planning things.
I've done all the physical planning I needed to, have run three times this week - two interval runs sandwiched around a 5-mile run. Now, the only thing I have to do is prepare mentally and eat right the next day-plus.
I have a goal. I want to beat my Mission Inn Run time of 52:55. Of course, that's what you do in races right? Try to beat your previous best time, your Personal Record. My 10K PR is 52:55, not exceedingly fast but not a snail's pace either.
What do I have to do to set a new 10K PR? Well...
According to my cheat sheet chart from Runner's World, I have to maintain a pace of 8:30 or faster. I know to some more experienced runners that doesn't seem difficult - the chart goes as low as a 5:30 pace, and that's a pace I'll never run at.
I suppose it would be nice to run the 10K in under 50 minutes, and perhaps that's what I should shoot at, but I want to see if that's realistic. Shaving three minutes off my PR time might not be realistic, and the only way I'll know is completing the race.
Now, since I've been running with the Garmin, I have noticed that I typically run at or above a 9:00 pace, so keeping up a more intense pace is something that may be different for me. Obviously, I can do it and have done it, and I'd like to think that I am a better runner now than I was in November, when I ran the Mission Inn Run. But that doesn't necessarily mean I'll be able to keep up the pace for an entire race.
My running book suggests some tips for running a 10K.
In short: run the first mile or two a little above my goal pace; run a strong middle portion of the mileage and hit the last half-mile or so hard. It says not to worry about passing runners or preventing others from passing you early on, and suggests picking runners during the second half of the race to follow and use them as targets to pass.
I don't know if I can follow that. I am convinced now more than ever that I am meant to run long distances, 10 miles, half-marathons, distances like that. When I've tried to run hard early on, I run out of steam. My heart rate gets really high and then it's tough to bring it down. I like to ease into a run, to let my heart rate increase slowly.
For instance, when I run hard for the first mile or two of a run, my heart rate can be in the 180s by mile three. For me, anything above 180 is close to or at exhaustion. If my watch reads 185 or more, I'm gassed. Forget it. But if my heart rate is between 165-175, I'm perfect. I'm good to go. And I can keep it there for many miles. When I ran my 10-mile run, I was pleasantly surprised with how my heart rate climbed. It wasn't climbing into the high 170s early on, and in the middle portion of my run it was in the low 170s, whereas I would have thought it would have been much higher than that by then.
Of course, I'm going to have to run at a faster pace during my 10K then I did for my 10-miler. According to this chart, I ran it at a 9:45 pace or so, and I'll need a much faster pace than that on Saturday to set a new PR.
But as I said earlier, I feel I'm a stronger runner now than I was in November, have done well to run this week and (mostly) over the last two months, so this should be a great race.