Saturday, January 3, 2009

San Diego Resolution 10K

I knew that going out too hard would be the kiss of death. So imagine my surprise, when I saw my first mile go by in 6:18. The good news is that (at the time) I didn't feel like I was working all that hard.

It changed, very quickly. Believe me.

The bad news? I paid for it dearly in the remaining 5.2 miles.

Yes, there's nothing like starting out The New Year with a resolution race. It's been a long, long, LONG time since I ran an open (non-triathlon) 10k. The key difference (as Beth Shutt pointed out to me earlier): When you run off the bike, you really can't go out too hard, as you're just getting your legs under you (and you usually feel not-that-great). In open races, its different.

Yeah, I should have had that conversation before I jumped the gun. Oh well.

Live and learn, my friends, live and learn.

After picking up my number and availing myself of the facilities (FYI: for anyone doing this race next year - there are only 2 toilets in the bathrooms near registrations. And they run out of toilet paper real quick. Nothing says "GOOD MORNING" like used rolls of toilet paper before a foot race. Luckily I bummed a few squares off the gals ahead of me), I warmed up for 20 minutes, threw in a few strides, and then debated what to wear.

Definitely shorts, as the temps were in the low 50s. But it was windy, dark, and the drizzle was giving me chills. I figured I would warm up quickly, but still opted for the long sleeved top. Right before the start, the sleeves came up.

The 15K participants took off 30 minutes before the 10K race, and the organizers did a great job of keeping the path clear with enough room for all the races.

I said my farewells to Nathaniel, dumped my jacket, keys, and water in his arms, and took off towards the front of the crowd. I wasn't sure how fast most racers would be, and while I didn't want to place myself front and center, I certainly didn't want to jeopardize my chances from the get-go. Instead, I was front row, off to the left.

And before I knew it, we were off!

The first thing I noticed was how controlled and calm I felt; much different from the 5k a few weeks ago. This time - even though the pace was quick - I didn't feel out of control, or that I was stretching too much beyond my ability level. So I thought.

Right away one guy took off, and he was gone for the remainder of the race. A few guys jumped out early, but within the first half mile, I had passed all three of them. What? Was there something I didn't know about? Something ominous ahead??

I thought briefly about slowing my pace and running with the people behind me, but quickly squashed that thought. I was doing this race purely for myself, purely for speed work, to test my limits, and figure out what specifically I needed to work on. Slowing down would simply be unacceptable in my book, even if by staying ahead it promised to be a lonely race.

But it wasn't completely desolate: right from the beginning, I started passing runners and walkers from the 15K. The first 2 or 3K of their race had been run in the opposite direction of the 10k, and then the two courses joined back together at the start. One by one, I blew past the last half of the 15K field, narrowly missing taking out a random duck (qvak!) by the Hilton Resort.

First mile down, and I was onto the second. Immediately upon seeing my pace, I figured I should relax it, just a touch. Apparently I took myself a little too seriously, and ran the next mile 30 seconds slower. Oops.

After crossing a bridge, the course ran around Fiesta Island, with the 10K taking a short cut on the far side, while the 15K looped all the way around. I upped my pace for the 3rd mile, passing 15K participants left and right. The lack of wind was slightly alarming, but the water looked very calm. A brief thought flashed in my mind: where was the wind that was howling earlier? but I pushed it aside.

Back on pace, I charged through the 3 mile right on schedule, feeling solid and strong.

It was at the 6k mark, when the wind hit. At this point, I had crossed the island and had re-joined the faster of the 15k participants. I could see a girl about 20 seconds ahead, and I was aware of two guys right behind me. I could hear their footsteps, and practically feel their breath on the back of my neck. Some help with the wind would have been nice: I would have fit pretty well behind the taller of the two. But no one came to my side.

Just as much: this was my race, my run, my focus.

To occupy my mind away from the increasing amounts of pain felt in my legs, and divert my annoyance at the wind, I worked on dodging piles of duck poop. There was lots of it. And the overnight rain had made the road very slick; while running around the island, I never felt like I had a good "grip" on the pavement. My shoes seemed to slip just a tad with every push off. Running on hard sand helped a little, but I didn't want to push my luck.

So I focused on not slipping, not cursing the wind, and not giving my legs a pep talk aloud (lest the two guys behind think I was nuts). Besides, I was too winded to talk much anyway.

Just as I ran off the island (and out of the wind), the two guys hanging out behind me passed me.

"We worked all that way to pass you!" one cried as he bounded by.

I think my reply was cordial, PG rated. "Well, there you go!" I responded. What could I do?

Bloody hell!

With 2 miles left, I was cursing my bad math skills and my eagerness at "getting out fast!" What was I thinking?

But I didn't let it bother me; I figured there were so many things I could learn from this race - and besides, its an open 10k on January 3rd. My FIRST 10k in over a year and a half (my last 10K being at the Chattanooga Waterfront Triathlon back in July of 2007). Ha! I was paying my dues.

If this is what it takes to accomplish my season goals: bring it on. I'll survive, live, and learn. And be all that much better as the season progresses.

Final mile went by in a blur of pain. I know that I ran because I finished. But that's about all I can say. I never did catch the 15K girl ahead of me; but she didn't seem to move ahead by all that much.

Before I knew it, I was running through the grass to the finish chute. Someone yelled that I was the first 10K girl and second 10K person overall. I was more focused on not tripping on 1)wet grass 2) my feet 3) duck poop. Nothing says Champion! like the girl with duck poop all over her backside.

But actually, the backs of my legs, calves, and shoes were covered in muck, water, mud, sand, and (I'm sure) duck droppings. Nice! But it really wasn't that bad: I earned it.

As I was finishing my cool down jog (because let's face it, who can "run" after a foot race?), the guy who finished third in the 10K (and 8 seconds behind me) commented, "You really went out hard there...in the beginning."

I felt like replyin Yes Sherlock! but I didn't.

Instead, I laughed and remarked, "Yeah, I know. But I would rather test my limits and see what I could do rather than play it safe and start out too slow."

He didn't really say anything. Or at least not that I can remember.

Overall - though it wasn't my fastest 10k (42:52)- it was still a great race. Most of it was run alone, with only my thoughts to keep me company. In the past, perhaps the pre-crash me, would have been dissapointed with my time, upset that I didn't set a pr.

But today, I'm nothing but happy. Did I go out to fast? Probably. But - from racing my 5k a few weeks ago - I've learned that I DO have the speed to support a faster pace. I just need to work on my speed at longer distances. And that's great to know, as it will help me prepare for races later in the season.

I'm proudest though, becuase I put myself out there. I went after it, I went hard, and I made myself suffer for this race. I don't think that I could have done this last summer or fall - even though I was running again. Back then I was too concerned with what I couldn't do.

Today was all about what I DID do. And I raced my first 10k in a LONG time. The year is looking up and up, and I'm so excited about my season ahead.

And besides, afterwards, Nathaniel and I went out to breakfast. He got pancakes, I got french toast. Top it off with steaming coffee, eggs, and fruit, and I was in heaven. Breakfast food - especially the french toast kind - taste the absolute BEST after a hard effort like today's race.

And my next hard effort will arrive on January 25 in the form of the Carlsbad Half Marathon. Hooray!

16 comments:

rr said...

Yea Marit!!!! 10ks always hurt, in my opinion, no matter if the first mile is a 6 or a 6:50, mile 6 always kills me. Congrats on the overall win - and second boy, even better in my book :) Hope all the duck poo came off the shoes.

Jen said...

Good for you!!

Breakfast sounds like the best part. I love how warm and comfy your body feels after a hard effort like that.

Cheers to staying strong and healthy for 2009.

Amy Beth Kloner said...

Nice work, Marit! It's just great to be out there again, isn't it? Nice job getting 09 off to a good start.

Beth said...

Duck pooh - gross. I was laughing when I read about this because the park where I do a lot of my running races has the same problem and I've often tried to distract myself from thinking of the pain by instead focusing on dodging duck poop!!! :)

Regardless, great job in your race!! Really hard efforts like that will make everything else feel easier. AND will help that body remember that yeah, this is hard! :) Have a great day Marit!

Dave said...

Congratulations! Sounds like a great start to the year.

Chad Holderbaum said...

Way to go and great to see you're on your way back to "racing" form! Look out Oceanside in April!

TriGirl Kate O said...

Way to leave it all out there! You'll do great on the 1/2 marathon.

GoBigGreen said...

good job marit! Way to start out 2009 and you know its only going to get better, especially in Tucson!

Charisa said...

Congrats - awesome way to begin the season!! :)

ADC said...

Well done, that is an amazing effort. What a way to start the season.

Maijaleena said...

Good job getting out and doing a 10k this time of year and doing your first 10k in a long time! Congrats!

Mel said...

Awesome win....isnt it funny all the BS we think of when we are out there running:) I am excited to hear about your racing this NEW YEAR..your back:)

Ordinarylife said...

congrats!!

Shan said...

Yeah Marit! Way to rock your first race of 2009!!! I'm going to pick your brain about running in these next few weeks :)

Much love!!

Eileen Swanson said...

Congrats Marit! I knew you were going to do awesome ;-) Cheers to an awesome start to 09!

Jen said...

What a great way to start '09!