Yesterday morning I ran my 12th race, which was my second 10k. Jen ran the 5k race, and it was her third 5k. It was the first race I’ve run where I did not get a new PR (I guess that happens after you start running a lot of races and start to repeat distances). But it was the first race where I placed in the top 3 in my division (43:40 with a 7:01 average pace; 7:02 if you round up, as official results do)! I placed 8th overall and 3rd in my division! I was pretty psyched about that. And so was Santa:
(Being the man with the ultimate ‘stache, it was also a great honor when he dubbed my ‘stache the most excellent of the race.)
Sure, there were only 39 of us who ran the 10k, but it’s still a pretty awesome feeling to be a 10k Award Winner and to have earned my first merit-based medal:
It’s also pretty awesome that the overall male winner was a 49-year-old dude! With a time of 36:14, that’s a blazing 5:50 pace! There’s hope for the rest of us after all.
But back to the race… I managed to pull off a near-PR performance in terrible conditions — about 20 degrees (a whopping 11 with wind chill!) — on a really hilly course with the worst course markings I’ve yet to experience. Nothing against race course volunteers since we runners really do depend on them, but I found myself on more than one occasion reaching an unmarked neighborhood intersection and having to yell at the volunteers who weren’t giving me any guidance, “Where do I go??” Many of the volunteers were helpful and did point me in the right direction, but all of them weren’t as helpful.
I almost turned down the wrong street a couple times. It was also a cluster back toward the school since I started to overlap the much larger field of 5k runners on their course, so suddenly there were runners going every which way — they were running toward me, I was passing them, and I was confused. I probably wasted 5 to 10 seconds trying to figure out where my course was and which way to go. But alas, I still crossed the finish line 8th overall, so I certainly can’t complain too much!
Considering my time yesterday was only 3 seconds off my first 10k, which was a much better course with much better markings and directions, and that it was ass-cold, I’d say it was a pretty damn good race.
It started off fine enough. I charged out ahead near the front of the crowd and maintained my position pretty much throughout the race (6:48 mile 1). The first couple miles were beautiful farmland through the rolling hills of Hudson Falls, NY. On one of the first hills, I was able to look ahead to the lead runner and count that I was in the 8 spot. Nice! This could be my first Top 10 finish, I thought. Shortly after that, two dudes passed me… but I kept them in my sight and maintained pace (7:03 and 7:05 miles 2 and 3).
Then came a big hill — my specialty. I had already passed the first dude who’d passed me, and while climbing the biggest hill of the course, I made my move on dude #2; he seemed surprised when I flew past him on the uphill. That was mile 4 (7:25).
Shortly after that, the mess of the course markings began. There was an intersection with a parked police car and a small sign telling me to turn right. So I turned right and hoped for the best. I looked over my shoulder a few times to make sure my fellow 10k’ers were also going that way. I didn’t see them for a while — apparently I had gained a lot of ground on that hill — but eventually I saw them and felt better about going the right direction.
Despite the confusion in the last couple miles and some near wrong turns, I picked up the pace again, clocking in a 7:05 in both miles 5 and 6. I was gunning to beat my PR from my first 10k (43:37 back in October), so with just over a mile to go, I really turned it on. I started flying past some 5k walkers and slower 5k runners. My average pace in the final 0.21 miles as I cruised back toward the school parking lot and race finish line where my wonderfully supportive and cheering wife awaited was 5:39.
My signature sprint to the finish was alive and well, but I missed my PR by 3 seconds, but held onto my 8th place overall.
I was elated when they later posted the results and I saw that I was 3rd in my division. Santa bestowed me with my bronze. A good day. All that and 100% of our race fees went to benefit underprivileged kids.
Congrats to my wife for a rockin’ race, too, despite the terrible conditions!
My Santa 10k mile splits:
- Mile 1: 6:49
- Mile 2: 7:03
- Mile 3: 7:05
- Mile 4: 7:25 (hill)
- Mile 5: 7:05
- Mile 6: 7.05
- Mile 6.21: 5:39