The 10K is kind of an odd distance for me. I run 10K frequently. It’s almost exactly 6.2 miles from our apartment to the park, around the park, and back home. So 10K is kind of my base distance.
But it most definitely is not my base race distance. I’ve only run one other 10K, and I was 7 months pregnant. I felt like that needed to change, so I signed up for the Rock N Roll 10K in Prospect Park last Saturday. My home distance on my home turf. Couldn’t get any better, right?
Actually, I can think of one way it could have gotten better: if I hadn’t run a 5K the week before. Not that I was still recovering physically from that 5K, because I actually felt pretty well rested and my legs were less sore than they have been. But mentally . . . mentally I was not yet in a place where I wanted to push myself really hard. Not like I did at Miles for Midwives. It was too soon to be over the mental trauma.
But there I was, at the start line, with a bib pinned to my shirt waiting for the air horn to blow – and when it did, off I went! The race started going up the hill and I tried to hold back a little bit so I wouldn’t burn myself out. After all, I was going to have to tackle it again at mile 5. There were a few girls I was trying to stay with up the hill, but by the time we turned around and went back down, I’d passed them. When I hit the 3 mile mark, someone said I was among the top 10 women, which was totally unexpected and which I only partly believed. But it was motivation enough for me to keep pushing it and to not let any other women pass me.
That goal was nearly thwarted as I neared the top of the hill. Micah and the kids were there waiting to cheer me on. Squish had his hand out for a high-5, and as I ran by, I missed his hand! The devastation! I could hear Squish being very sad, so I turned around and we tried again – successfully. It was really only a couple of steps, and I don’t think anyone passed me, but I did lose a few seconds –which I don’t regret at all. Totally worth it.
Micah rode with the kids to the other side of the park and caught me again about half way through the last mile. I’m pretty sure he went just fast enough to encourage me to keep my pace. He really is an excellent pacer, even if he’s not running the race. I think his strategy worked. I felt like I finished strong, even though it was really hard by the end. I finished in 43:08, was 5th in my age group and the 12th woman overall. (I think the person who told me I was in the top 10 might have missed the pack of 6 elite women who finished nearly 10 minutes ahead of me.)
It was a good race and I’m glad I did it because now I have a real baseline for the 10K, and I did manage my goal of sub-7:00 average pace. Next time I hope to crack into the 42 minute range, and I hope, one day, to get down to 40.
Although I might need Micah to pace me for real if I’m ever going to do that.