living in the now

Still rambling about running. Sometimes other things.

Overcoming the 10k challenge

LC group In my few years of running longer distances, I've made it clear that I really don't like 10ks all that much. I can't really pinpoint why -- to me that distance is just weird. For a 5k, you can just go all out -- if you screw up at the start, there's no way to make up for it. For a half marathon, there's plenty of a time to make up for lost time or let yourself recover if you start too fast. The 10k ... well, that in between distance just hasn't appealed to me.

Until yesterday, I had only done four 10ks since I started running in 2004 - compare that to 12 5ks and six half marathons. Even when I train, I prefer the distances of 5 miles or 8 miles. But yesterday, my view of the 10k changed ... slightly.

As I initially reported with a short entry, I set a PR in the Ukrop's Monument Avenue 10k. My chip time was 48:11, 21 seconds faster than my very first 10k at the end of 2006. After having a very satisfying race last week, this was the icing on the cake. I had no idea what to expect yesterday. Six days removed from a half marathon, I knew my legs felt rested, but still a bit tired. I ran only once during the week for a little more than a mile. I figured that after the first mile I knew I would either push it or just lay back and enjoy the scenery of Richmond's Monument Avenue and the 26,000-plus people who finished.

Well, I hit the first mile in 7:43. I felt great, but I wondered if maybe I started too fast. The next mile was also 7:43. At this point I figured I would try to keep that pace to get to halfway and then see what happens. Mile three was a tad slower at 7:54, but I was still feeling good and was pumped that I was maintaining a sub 8-minute mile pace. It was the first time in a long time that I have felt an adrenaline rush in a race. I hit mile four in 7:46. At this point, my legs tried to tell me to slow down -- they were screaming at me for doing two races two weeks in a row, but I kept pushing. I hit mile five at 7:57 -- at this point I knew I had to push it if I was going to set a PR. I didn't want to miss a PR by 30 seconds, but I knew it would be close if I didn't step it up. Push it or walk and get nowhere near a PR.

With this race and so many people, there's a lot of weaving in and out almost the whole time. There were lots of people in the first few waves that shouldn't have been up there and there were lots of people in the waves behind me that should have been closer to the front. That made the last mile very interesting. I pretty much tried to keep pace with people as they passed me -- I knew they were in that last mile frame of mind, so I blocked out my tired body and just went with the flow. I hit mile six in 7:37. With 0.2 to go, I knew I had this PR in the bag. I finished the last two-tenths in 1:29. My legs were hating me, but I was so happy.

At a 7:45 pace, this is my first race at a sub 8-minute mile pace since August 2007 in a 5k. While I did set a PR last summer in a 4-mile race, this one feels a lot more satisfying. I've come a long way in a year after being hurt and running this race last year in 51:43.

As for what's next, I am content with the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon in Virginia Beach being the next "big" race for me. Between now and then, though, I have some things I'd like to tackle with speed work and shorter distances to get me to what I really want this year -- a PR in the half marathon at Rock 'n' Roll or later in the fall.

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Lastly, this race was a fundrasier for the VCU Massey Cancer Center. Donations are accepted for a while -- if you'd like to donate to my efforts, click here. Both sides of my family have been impacted by cancer, so I'm not just raising money for the sake of raising money. Every little bit means a lot to me.