Nothing like starting the year off with a race. A 10k in Palo Alto this morning, which I also ran last year. Last year's time was 46:25, today's goals were...
1) New PR (under 41:43)
2) Beat PR by 1 minute (40:43)
3) Sub 40 (super stretch goal)
Based on recent runs I knew I was in shape for #2 on a good course with good conditions, #3 was a stretch on anything except a downhill course. Course today was flat, but miles 2.5-5 were on a dirt/rocky levee in Palo Alto Baylands - so not a great course, but still pretty good. Fortunately the weather was perfect: cold (high 30's), sunny, and no wind.
Did my warmup and lined up at the front. There was a fast looking college kid who I figured was gonna beat me by a long way. Gun went off and he was gone, unfortunately he dragged everyone else and my first quarter mile went by at 5:50 pace (plan was 6:25 - I was pacing for 34:50 to give me a little slack). Managed to get things under control by a half mile and got thru mile 1 running on pace, but a little quick overall at 6:22.
Second mile was spent trying to stay on pace, run comfortably and get the breathing back under control from that fast start. I was feeling a little strained and got thru it in 6:33 (8 seconds slow) to put me 5 seconds off track at just 2 miles. Not a great start....
And just after 2.5 miles it went from paved road to dirt/rocks so I knew I was in trouble. 6:36 for mile 3, 6:37 for 4 and 6:36 for mile 5. I was now behind goal #3 by 40 seconds, and knew that a sub 40 was definitely not going to happen. Things were hurting a lot and I was worried about being able to finish strong at all.
I decided in mile 6 that I needed a boost so planned to catch the guy ahead, which was probably only 50 feet but it looked like a long way. I reined him in after about 1 third of a mile and then passed him. A little kick and I was by. But he wasn't done yet and hung on as we got back onto the roads. I kicked twice more but couldn't get any real separation. Finally as we approached the 6 mile marker I did a sprint and I finally got away from him. That sixth mile was back on pace at 6:24 but it was really painful. Heartrate was up at 180 and I was breathing hard.
The final .21 miles were just a painful blur and I'm sure I didn't look too good, but I did it at 5:59 pace. Clawed back 6 seconds against plan and crossed the line in 40:24. That hurt more than any run I've ever done. I certainly didn't leave anything in the tank.
So I met goals 1 & 2, and set a new PR by 1:19. Also, I beat last year's time by over 6 minutes! But I missed my sub 40, which to be honest, I wasn't ready for today. On a faster course with better pacing at the start I may have done it, but I was struggling to hold the pace way back at mile 2, which was all on paved bikepaths, so maybe not. However, I'm pretty sure I'll go under 40 at my next 10k in March.
Finished 9th overall, which was 3rd in my age group (40-49). I was happy with the run; apart from the silly start I paced things pretty well and had a strong finish.
Next year I have set a goal that I will win my age group at this race! Winner today in my age group ran a 37 something, so I have my work cutout for me.
Happy New Year!