Plaza 10k Recap and Searching for Speed

I can’t decide if I love or hate the 10k distance.  Really, there’s so much to appreciate about each racing distance and the effort/strategy involved in each, which is something I’ve grown to appreciate with each year that I run, but don’t we all have personal favorites?

I am much more of a tortoise than a hare, so I have a natural love for the half-marathon distance or greater, but the 10k is that great sweet spot–a distance that weeds out a lot of the people who run races with no training or regular running under their belt and thus rewards the more dedicated “regular” runners, but still a distance short enough to reward flat-out balls-to-the-wall effort.

Unfortunately, I tend to be a bit deficient in the flat-out effort department.  It’s a personal weakness.  My balls don’t like to go to the wall, I guess.  Such a shame.

Recent illness and ill-preparedness aside, I was excited to run Sunday’s 10k.  It’s my first time running this race, and I knew it was a popular one.  I could tell as I was warming up that the hardcore local dogs were here to run.  Fun!  Having only been back here a year and only running one small marathon and one tiny 5k since my return, I was excited to see how the running would go with the local peeps.

I lined up at the front of the 9:00/mile corral and told myself to stick to my plan of a slow first mile…don’t look at other people and don’t run faster than a 9:15 pace to start, I reminded myself.  You want to try to have a finishing kick for once in your racing life, I told myself.

And of course, that plan went right out the window (as always!) as I judged all the people around me, deemed myself able to hang, and went right along with the crowd setting off at about an 8:30 pace.

I don’t know what it is with me.  I should run like a horse with blinders on.  My inability to let people go is a real problem.  I just can’t stand seeing a pack of runners surge ahead of me…and the only thing I hate worse is lining up waayyyyy too far back and then having to work to pass a bunch of slower people.

It was enjoyable at first.  The hum of a crowd of runners and the positive energy that I feel when running along with a group of runners with similar ability is a great feeling.  A few cheers, some coughing, and my awesome playlist were all I heard in those first few miles.  I was feeling great, I had a decent amount of energy (something that’s been lacking these past few weeks with my cold) and I was fully entertained by checking out the other runners.  I love checking out running gaits and how people dress (unless they are men wearing tanks with copious amounts of shoulder and back hair).  I also am constantly looking for that next slightly weaker runner to set my sights on passing.

In short, everything was hunky dory for the first several miles, and I was impressed with the group of runners around me and comfortable with my pace.  By around the Mile 5 mark, I was still in the zone, with mile splits of approximately 8:30, 8:07, 8:26, and 8:14 so far.  I had a PR in my sights.

Then I hit the wall.  I’d like to blame it on my recent illness, but I truly don’t know if it’s the cause.  My lungs just started feeling heavy, and I knew I had no finishing kick (have I ever?).  Other runners were keeping up their pace, and I knew I couldn’t.  It was frustrating dialing my pace back, but I had no choice.  I tried to stay positive and tell myself that I’d done pretty well to make it to the last mile before turning to the Dark Side, but I hated seeing other runners with more energy than I had at the very end.  It made me feel like I have a weakness…something that I need to address in my training or preparation if I truly want to improve my running.  I decided that I am NOT happy with where I am at right now with my running!  Like I do every race, I felt like never running again!  No mas!

I finished the 5th mile at an 8:46 pace and started to feel ill…suddenly chilling and nauseous…big fat bummer.  Then I saw some blond runner go by, and I recognized my high school friend and former college roommate passing me and finishing strong.  She caught my eye because her hair was down and flying everywhere…yikes, how can she stand that?  I knew she was racing and ran similar paces to mine, but it cracked me up and totally motivated me to see her strong finish.  I tried to speed up just a tad and made up a few lost seconds, coming in at a 53:56.

Not a PR, but only 19 seconds off.  I finished 31st out of 291 in my age group (Mature Sophisticates 40-44), with my friend finishing in the spot ahead of me (8 seconds faster.)  I wasn’t thrilled with my time, especially with my finish, but I know I’m being pretty hard on myself.

Catching up with my friend was so fun!  She is running her first marathon next month and will crush it, no doubt!  Wish her luck!



Post-race, I have some decisions to make.  My average pace was about 8:48 for the race…not where I want to be.  If that’s my 10k pace, then I feel like I will probably run next month’s half-marathon in just under 2 hours.  Again, not where I want to be at all.  My half marathon PR is 1:52, so the thought of rolling in at just under 2 hours feels like a giant setback.

I’ve been telling myself that I will form some spring running goals after next month’s race.  Do I gear up for another spring marathon?  Right now, I am thinking no.  My speed, or lack thereof, is really irking me.  I think I am leaning toward the Heartland 39.3 challenge, a late spring event here in KC that involves running 3 half marathons in five weeks.

If I do that instead of training for a full, I think I could really work on both building my base mileage back up and incorporating more speedwork/tempo runs.  I just really want to be a little faster.  Maybe I should set my sights on a 1:50 half marathon time and a 50:00 10k.  

Does that sound possible?  I would love any tips/suggestions/feedback!  Am I crazy?




26 thoughts on “Plaza 10k Recap and Searching for Speed

  1. I don’t think those goals are crazy at all! It’s amazing how big of an improvement consistent speed training can bring. My last half was a PR that beat my previous best by around 5 minutes and I definitely credit to really pushing it on the speed training. You may have already used this before because I know you are a Hal Higdon fan but I really like his intermediate half training plan. It has one speed training day a week and alternates between interval and tempo workouts which was nice in terms of mixing things up. I think you can totally rock those times! Good luck!


    • Thanks, Anna! I am using his intermediate plan for this half marathon and love it so far. I really think I just need to work on my half time and commit myself to it for several races, with lots of speedwork and tempo runs. I really think my spirit is more into speed and less into distance right now, at least for the next few months anyway. Thanks for the encouragement!


  2. A-hem.
    Despite the fact that your team won yesterday, I will still offer up my 2-cent advice.

    I built my speed by training for halfs. My first half was at a 1:56. I knew I could do better than that if I tried. Plus I ran it with two girlfriends and we talked and joked the entire time. So I decided two things – (1) I would actually start making an effort to run faster by doing tempos twice a week; and (2) I was going to run a half by myself just to see what I really could do after a few months of training. In my head, I thought I could realistically get to 1:45. So I calculated the pace (8:01) and made sure that my tempo runs were at least 30 seconds faster. After 3 months of training, I ran a 1:42. Two weeks later, in a race that I swore I was doing just for fun, I ran a 1:43. From that, I got confidence. And then set my eyes towards improving my marathon time with the goal of BQ’ing before I turn 40. We will see if it happens at Portland.

    I know everyone is different. But one of the big things with me is that I didn’t realize I could run faster. I had spent years and years running at an 8:45 pace and being content that I had found my speed and would never go faster. It wasn’t until I decided I wanted to test my limits and see what I could really do that I discovered I was capable of going much faster. I’m not saying what I did is the magic formula. It just worked for me. There were MANY mornings I was cursing (out loud) at myself to get the lead out and stop being such a wuss. YOU are your biggest motivator. YOU are also your biggest enemy. Believe that you can go faster and you will.

    Hopping off of my soap box now and slinking back into the land of a losing, POS football team that will continue to disappoint me until Jerry sells and gets the hell out of Dallas.



    • I’m glad you could work yourself out of your post-beatdown depression and offer your advice! I appreciate it! I definitely think I’m going to do what you are saying…my heart is just telling me to spend some time on the half distance for awhile and focus on my time goals, rather than building back up to another marathon. Thanks for the solid advice! And as always, so sorry for you that you have to deal with that poor Cowboys team!


  3. Even though you don’t like where you are, I think you are in a pretty good place. What’s not to like about falling just 19 seconds short of your personal best a few weeks after being sick. The thing that makes the most difference to my finish time versus just getting round is speed training. On the down side I hate it. On the plus side the results come quite quickly. Good luck.


  4. I sense a little being hard on yourself for that 19 seconds, but I get it, I would feel the same I am sure! But despite not just getting over not feeling well, you did it! I have no doubt you will do better next time! 🙂


  5. As a less experienced runner, it is really interesting to read your debate with yourself about what to do and what to focus on. I am waiting to see what you decide is the next step. Sorry, I can’t offer any advice on your options, but I do think you did amazing in the 10k race considering how ill you were recently. Don’t be too hard on yourself.


  6. Be good to yourself!!! Think of what you would say to me!! I know your race was disappointing to you, but I think you did well. Keep moving forward. I think you are great and can do this. Sorry if I sound “sappy”, but I really believe you can do this. Just keep believing.


    • I know what I would say to you…but of course those things never apply to us personally, right? Only to motivate and support others! 🙂 Seriously, thank you…I appreciate the encouragement. I wasn’t beside myself with disappointment, but it was like my speed-related worries all coalesced in one half-mile span. If it sends me in search of a new running goal and gets me to push my limits, then it’s not a bad thing, right?


  7. Yes you are crazy!!!! Since you asked I could resist. But alas, this is why I love you just the way you. You keep it up Angie. The dream is what keeps us going. Like you sweet husband said, “hunker down and fight for it”. Love you much, wish I could run with you. Love you Love you. Get better, keep writing, and keep doing your thing. !!!!!! xoxo June


  8. Did you really just say “small marathon” …
    Now I want to virtual slap you!!
    Girl, that pace is something other people (ahem)strive for. You did great considering how sick you were recently.
    Throw in some speed work, it does help. I have stopped the track work for now since I am just focusing on mileage, but it will make you faster, fo sho!
    You are so funny about picking off slower runners, I totally do that, yes, there are a few people slower than me. And I refuse to walk and always speed up near cheering sections.
    Oh, and photographers. I run like a boss around the photographers 😉


    • Ha! I have been doing speedwork and tempo runs with my latest training, just not enough (and for not a long enough period of time yet) for me to see any improvement. I definitely think after focusing so much on mileage last winter for marathon prep, that I will be happier focusing on pace gain this winter season. And you are so right…there is always someone slower and ALWAYS someone faster. I just need to let it be motivating and encouraging, but not get too hung up in it. It needs to be my individual thing, not a total competition!

      And usually by the end of a race when I know the photographers are there, I am beyond caring, covered in sweat and flailing around like a complete idiot!


  9. You are doing the right thing by running shorter/faster races! They definitely make you faster. I think sub 1:50 for you is definitely do-able! My half PR is 1:45 and that year I definitely invested in more track work/10ks!


  10. Yeah I don’t love the 10k either. You can’t go fast like a 5k, or long like a half or full marathon. It’s a weird distance. But maybe that’s what makes it so good as an all-rounder race.
    Speed? Sounds like you got the answers already!


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