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?