As of 9:52 on the morning of Saturday, April 25 (or, in a word, yesterday), I completed my first 10K race. I think that feat is more than deserving of a big old huzzah! It was a chilly day for it, though, and I was dubious about my performance as I did a brief, shivery warm-up in the not-quite-30 degree F weather.
I marveled at how little some of the runners were wearing on the gray and somewhat windy morning, with some competitors turning out in little more than shorts and a sports bra. All I have say to that is brrrr! As for me, I donned light pants, SmartWool socks, stretchy gloves, and a thermal shirt for under my t-shirt. I'm glad I didn't wear anything more as it would have quickly become uncomfortable. As it was, I was sweating by mile 3. Still, my choices were perfect for the then-unknown mixes of sun, shade, and wind that I would encounter on the run.
I'm writing quite a bit about the conditions, aren't I? How about a little info on the race itself, then. 397 runners turned out for the 10K, and over 1,200 competed in the 5K race later that day. I thought that the downtown would be much busier when the Best Husband Ever dropped me off at the starting line, but it was all quite quiet. I also imagined that I would recognize more of the runners, but it wasn't until a few minutes before the start that I finally found a familiar face -- a fellow teacher from the elementary school where I work. I also soon saw an old Bible study acquaintance and one of my husband's co-wokers as well as a man I met at last Sunday's 5K race.
At 9:00 AM, all 400 of us were off and running. I started out in roughly the middle of the pack, and soon found myself wishing that I had begun closer to the front. Not because I'm especially fast, but the bottlenecking that ensued was a little frustrating. Still, I ran out with a smile on my face, enjoying the sound of pounding feet all around me. I enjoy running alone, but running in a crowd is also great fun! The group began to spread out, and we streamed along the streets, safely patrolled by police, emergency care providers, and volunteers armed with caution signs (for the cars) and water (for the runners!). I thought it was a little much to have so many water stops for a 10K, but a number of people partook. I did not -- I nearly threw up near the end of the race without a bunch of water sloshing around inside my belly!
I feel pretty good about my performance. I paced myself well, and finished the 6+ mile course in 51:42, which gives me a mile pace of 8:21. That's just about spot on where I was hoping to run, and I pushed myself a little harder than I would on a standard long workout run (which tend to come in at about 7 miles). I'm quite satisfied with that pacing!
I began to feel a bit bummed at the end, though, when I was passed by a runner (with bib number 310 in the photos) who I had caught up with, kept pace with, and then passed myself earlier. We were pretty much neck-and-neck once I caught up to her somewhere around mile 3.5, and I was determined that I would stay ahead of her until the end. I didn't -- just a few minutes before the finish line, she pulled ahead and booked it to the end, even though my own legs were really pounding at that point. It was an exercise in trusting my own place, listening to my body, and knowing that I was running for me, and not to win or to beat someone else. It's easy for me to get rather aggressive and competitive, so this experience was good practice for me.
The fastest runners were insanely fast, in my opinion -- the winner finished in only 31:47, with a an average mile pace of 5:08. I can't imagine running with that kind of speed! Those front-running guys clearly were in it to win it. The fastest female came in at 38:53, and her mile pace was 6:17. Now there's a time I can at least think about working toward. Maybe not for a little while, though!
Once again, the Best Husband Ever biked along the course taking photos. Unfortunately, he had a difficult time finding me in the mass of people. Still, he captured some excellent shots of the front runners, and quite a few unattractive photos of me pulling some pretty awful faces (unbenownst to me at the time). At least I wasn't smiling, so I guess that makes me intense, right? Also, my wonderful mother- and sister-in-law also cheered me over the finish line, which was quite awesome of them.
All in all, this 10K -- my first! -- was a great experience. I worked hard and pushed myself while maintaining a good pace. Plus, I had a fabulous time! Even though this race felt a lot more like work than my two 5Ks, it was an excellent way to spend a Saturday morning.