For the last month or so, I'd switched my focus from the Ragnar Relay to the Surf City Marathon, but part of my training included the Mission Inn Run 10K. I'd ran the race before, as it was my first regular, non-obstacle 10K run and I'd set a pretty good time of 52:55.
But over the last two weeks or so, I'd wanted to beat that time and had set my sights solely on this race. I had two goals: 1) beat my time from last year, and 2) finish in 49:59 or better. Goal 1 was a must, Goal 2 would have been icing on the cake.
Although I'd ran the Ragnar Relay and the Mud Run in the last five months, this was my first regular street race since the Run Through Redlands in April. As I went to check in and grab my bib - I got number 88 - I felt the excitement of the pre-race atmosphere.
There must be a hundred runners out here already.
I had about 20 minutes to go before the race started when I walked up to the start line, but I wasn't ready to get a spot in the start. I warmed up by jogging very lightly, walking, then jogging faster and increasing the pace little by little. I ran a total of about .8 miles and got my pace up to the pace I thought I would feel comfortable at the start.
When the 10K runners started to gather at the start, I tried to grab a spot up near the top, and I met up with a pair of my Loper pace group buddies. One of them, Meriel, was worried about time and wondered how she should run it, as it was her first 10K. I had faith in her, as even though she is a first-year Loper like myself, she is one of the stronger runners in our 11-minute pace group.
I wound up running with Angie of Angie Eats Peace, who wanted to beat her 2008 time of 56 minutes, for a good portion of the start. We sort of pushed each other for the first two miles, and we flew. We finished the first two miles in about 15 minutes, 20 seconds.
Holy crap! Man, those tempo runs worked!
I knew we wouldn't be able to hold that pace for the entire race but it felt very good to know that I was even running that pace and not feeling the effects.
Early in the third mile, though, we got to a hill. It wasn't the steepest hill ever but it was steep enough. Our early speedburners were shut off, and Angie fell behind a bit. I pushed forward, got up to the main street (Market Street) and swung a right. The half-marathoners were running alongside us at that point.
I'm so running that next year.
I had to maintain my focus and I sort of lost it during this stretch. After the turnaround point, which was the end of mile 3, I was at about 22 minutes, a little more. I felt good knowing that if I were to run a 5K I know I could beat my 5K time of 25:05. Perhaps it was this that made me lose my focus, or maybe I just got a bit fatigued, but by the time I got to the end of Mile 4 I was at about 32 minutes, and that was about the same time I had been at a year ago.
Stupid Garmin! What the hell?!?
Thinking back now, The Garmin was not working properly. It kept giving me "Weak GPS Signal" readings, so I think my times may have been off at a certain point. Regardless, I felt that if I didn't push myself, I wasn't going to beat my PR and would definitely not come close to finishing in under 50 minutes.
Time to push yourself.
Angie had caught me sometime during Mile 4 but I sped up and left her and a group of other runners behind, probably not too far behind but I couldn't see them in my peripheral vision. I was worried though that I wouldn't be able to maintain that pace for much longer and while I know I slowed down (The Garmin was unreliable by this point) I could feel myself going at a good pace regardless.
The 5-mile marker came up and..
"40 minutes, 41 seconds"
I had a shot. I had 1.2 miles left and I was going to do whatever I could to finish in under 50 minutes. But the realities of running sunk in quickly. My muscles ached, my feet were taking a pounding and I could feel my heart working overtime. The hill approached yet again, and it slowed me down once more. I came up out of it, made a left on a street where the hill wasn't much of a factor but it took some time coming out of it.
Still, I kept pushing. I could see Market Street up ahead, and once I turned onto it I knew that there would be no holding back. But Mission Inn Boulevard was a ways down, and I wasn't sure if I could sprint that far.
This is what you do intervals for.
I heard people on the sidewalks cheering, and that sort of gave me a lift. I steadily improved my pace, got faster and by the time I was approaching Mission Inn, I was running as fast as I could.
No holding back now. You got this.
I wanted to leave nothing in reserve. My legs churned, my chest heaved, sweat dripped down my sunglesses and drenched my shirt. I remembered to look at the clock as I approached the finish line, but I couldn't really tell where the exact finish line was. Still, I shot a look at the clock as I slowed down.
I felt a mix of emotions. First, I was tired. I was breathing heavily and I wanted to jog a little longer but I was funneled into a the finish line and had no choice but to walk. Secondly, I could feel my leg muscles relaxing for the first time in about 50 minutes. They breathed sighs of relief. And since I hadn't taken my fuel belt or Gu, I was feeling the need to get some fluids and fuel inside of me. After I was able to get past my physical shortcomings, I was able to think about my time.
New PR!! Kick ass!!
As I made my way over to get some water, someone who I'd beaten told me that I needed to get my medal. Apparently, the top 100 male and female runners get a medal, and since I'd finished before that guy and he'd gotten one, I needed to get one. I went back to the finish and asked for one but didn't get it. I didn't care, but as I waited with Angie (who had her medal swung around her neck) I started to feel as if I got ripped off. Angie destroyed her PR, finishing in 51:24, while Meriel beat us both, finishing in under 50 minutes.
Once the official results were posted, I went over to see if I'd finished in the top 100 and then would go track down a medal.
I scanned the list, saw my name and...
Oh no! I didn't finish in the top 100 as I finished 103 in the overall male category, and apparently seventh in my age group.
I actually feel good about this. For one, I love my time. 50:19 is an awesome time! Much better than 50:24, and way better than 52:55. Secondly, I know I can run a better 10K race. I could stand to shed a few pounds, not talking 20 or 120 by any means but I know I can get leaner. And I know I can train better. I'm still in my early running stage as I've not ran a marathon before, have ran only one half-marathon and one 5K along with my three regular 10Ks, two Mud Runs and the Ragnar Relay. That's not a ton of races. I think the longer I run, the more races I run, the better my training will be. Plus, I haven't done hardly any resistance training this year so there's that element as well.
I like this bar that I've set for myself, and I know that the next 10K I participate in, I'll have an awesome chance of finishing in 49:59 or under so long as I remain true to myself in the run-up to the race.
Until then, I'm going to relax and enjoy the moment.