Today I ran in the Forest Park 10k. It was a beautiful morning driving to the race. The temperature was 38 degrees and there was very little wind. I have not done this race before so I wasn't sure what to expect from the course but I noticed a few hills as I was driving into the park but nothing bad.
I did a 2 mile warm up before the race and felt pretty good. I was thinking about what to shoot for in the race since I didn't have a lot of plans for this race. I thought if I could hit something between 6:45 and 6:50 pace I would be happy. I have not run a lot of 10ks but ran one about 3 months ago in 44:12 which was not long after I had started training seriously again. So a PR seemed inevitable but I really wanted to see how my training has been progressing since I have consistent picked up my training.
There are a 5k and a 10k race and it seemed most people were doing the 5k. It seemed like there was around 200 runners doing the 10k. We started right at 9:00 and I tried to settle into a comfortable pace. I was trying to hold myself back but I felt easy and smooth. Part of the first mile was down a hill so I expected it to be quicker. I hit the first mile in 6:17 which was a real wake up. This was much faster than I had planned. I thought don't worry to try to settle into a comfortable pace and see where it would take me. I latched on to a couple of runners and tried to run with them for a while. One of the guys amazed me because he was breathing so hard it sounded like he was coming in for a sprint finish instead of just going by the first mile. Anyway the second mile felt good and I didn't feel any real strain at this point so I calmed down after the fast first mile. I came through the second mile in 6:31 which was better but still faster than I had planned. I was now running closer to 5k pace than 10k. I tried to just stayed focused on the pace on not panic. I still felt good so I thought I would see if I could hold it. The 3rd mile was pretty much the same. I didn't feel like I was pushing but it was getting harder. I came through the 3rd mile in 6:33. Now I started thinking about a big PR and wanted to see if I could hold the pace to the finish. I got my answer about a half mile later as I really started feeling the strain of the pace. I was able to hold it together pretty good and came through the 4th mile in 6:41. I didn't feel like I was crashing but I knew that I couldn't run anymore 6:30's at this point so I focused on trying to stay in the 6:45 range to the finish. The 5th mile was the hardest mile so far and I was starting to struggle some. It was also more difficult since the field had strung out and I was running by myself. I tried to focus on the runners ahead of my to see if I could make up some distance. Even with these issues I managed a 6:48 for the 5th mile. Now I was focusing on the finish and wanted to see if I could hold my pace and not slow down anymore. Another runner passed my just after the 5 mile mark and he looked pretty strong so I just focused on trying to go with him. He was pulling away a little from me but we were also passing some other runners which lifted my spirits. I knew at this point that I was paying for the fast early pace but I also knew that if I could keep it together it would be a good time for me. I was really glad to see the 6 mile mark and more glad to see that I came through in 6:36. The last .2 was up a decent hill and I wanted to push in as fast as I could. I got back in the park and rounded a curve to the finish. This was the first time I got a chance to see the clock. It was getting very close to 41:00 minutes and I thought if I can sprint I might be able to get under 41. I started pushing hard (I can't say sprinting because it was definitely not sprinting) but it was looking like I would lose the battle. I hit the line right as the clock switched over to 41.
Regardless I was very happy when I finished. This was much better than anything that I imagined and much better than all the predictor calculators that I played around with last week. It was very satisfying to see the results of sticking with a consistent training plan. This really pumps me up to stay with the plan and see where it takes me. I never kept my mileage consistent through the winter. I have always cut way back and it shows in the spring. I really want to focus on building a good base this winter that I can build from.