Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Hot Chocolate 10K - Or, How Not to Pace Your Race

So, this ended up being kind of a funny race for me. (And, as it turns out, a really long race report.)  The cold wasn't really too bad - I think it was probably around 25 at the start, and I had run to the school from our house so I was pretty warmed up.  Instead, the real problem was the big hill leading away from the school - the one you run down-down-down at the start and up-up-up-up-up-up-up-up-up-up at the finish.  (Did I mention the up?)

I'm usually a negative split kind of person.  Not that I'm Debbie Downer, but that I do best when I run the second half of races faster than the first half.  Thus - the negative split.  And knowing that as I do, you wouldn't really think I'd get sucked into the giant downhill at the start and run off like a banshee, and pass the first mile marker listening to them call out "6:27, 6:28, 6:29."  Except that's exactly what I did. And I started a ways back in the pack, so it was more like 6:20 when I went by.   And I can't run 6:20s for a 10-K.  In fact, my stretch goal was to be in the 7:00 pace range.  Oops.  And honestly, I just never recovered from the insanely fast start.  Because I didn't even slow down right at the first mile - oh no, I did kind of think I was going too fast, but I still rolled along for a ways until it finally hit me that this was just really not going to work.   But by then it was a little late.

So, I just hung on for the last half, and then for the finish you run up the hill from River Road up Hill Street, and then take a quick left into the bottom Dickson entrance, and about 50 feet later there's the finish.  So you only go up about half of the giant hill that you come down at the start.  So I pushed hard up Hill Street, saw the turn, thought "ok, just go hard to the turn and then you're done."  And I went hard, made the turn - and no f@&*ng finish line was to be seen.   Seriously.  They had moved the start a bit, which I knew, but I didn't think it looked much shorter - but apparently they had compensated by moving the finish allllllll the way back up to the top of the hill.  And I hadn't bothered to figure this out before the race.  Oops.

It seemed like some sort of alternate reality at that point - honestly, I had already gone way too hard, but had mustered up some sort of finishing kick effort only to discover - no finish.  So I just kept slogging along, and slogging along, and I was really beginning to wonder if I was going to make it to the finish - but then finally - FINALLY - I staggered across.  And then I staggered around for a second and finally just stretched out on the sidewalk for a couple of minutes.  I pretty much never do that.  And even as I was desperately trying to catch my breath I was thinking "this is a really bad idea, your IT band is not going to like this" - and I still totally didn't care.  And even when a few people wandered over to see if I was ok - still totally didn't care.  So, in summation, that hill totally kicked my a$$.

I ended up at 45:14, for 7:18 pace and 4th in my age group.  So when I died at the end I really died.  But - while I'm not too happy with race execution, I am pretty happy with race effort.  Even when things were getting particularly grim at the end, I still kept pushing, which I'm happy about.  Although, let's face it, I'd probably be happier if I hadn't acted like a total goober at the beginning, and instead had run a nice string of 7:00 miles.  I might not have been able to string them all together, but at least I'd have a better idea of where my fitness stands.  Oh well - live and learn.  Better to figure it out now than at the Half-Marathon in February.  Note to self - don't act like a dumba$$.

One last funny note - I ran with my Garmin (which, incidentally, insisted that the race was 6.3 miles long rather than 6.2 - I knew we shouldn't have run so far up that hill!!) - but also it records heart rate.  And it recorded my heart rate at the finish as 244.  244!!!!   Technically I think my heart should have just exploded around 220.  So now I feel totally justified in collapsing on the sidewalk at the end.  It was probably a medical necessity.

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