As I’ve said before, I’ve decided to take some time this summer to work on speed in shorter races in hopes that it will also prove to help my longer race times. When I started running in the fall of 2009, I did a 5K, then a 10K. Since then, every (solo) race I’ve run has been either a marathon or a half marathon, so I thought it would do me some good to shake things up a bit and see how I’d fare at shorter distances.
Yesterday was the Fourth of July and was my first opportunity to see if I’ve made progress. I ran the Celebrate Summer Series 10K in Loveland, Ohio. The only other 10K I’ve ever run was the Thanksgiving Day 10K in 2009, so I was pretty sure I’d be able to PR at this distance. I remember waiting for the start of the race on that cold day a few years ago wondering if I’d even be able to finish the race because prior to that day, I had never run more than 5 miles at one time. When I crossed the finish line that Thanksgiving day, I was proud of myself for making it without walking. I had run the course in 1:04:24, an average pace of 10:21 per mile. When I read back through that blog post, I have to laugh at just how much I didn’t know!
June had been a brutally hot month here in southwest Ohio, just as it had been for most of the midwest and east coast. Record-breaking high temperatures seemed like a daily occurrence, and that made for some steamy training runs. June was also the most inconsistent month of training I’ve had since I started taking improved performance seriously. I’m a pretty structured guy and I like to stick to my plans, but that just didn’t happen well this June. I have no one to blame but myself, so no excuses. I did the workouts, but I didn’t do them with the kind of dedication I have been putting in over the last year or so. Yesterday, that lack of focus smacked me in the face, so I have renewed motivation to make the rest of the summer far more productive.
The day began as many have recently: high temperatures with high humidity. My wife and I got to the race at about 6:45AM at it was already topping 80F, but the humidity was the worst part. 90% humidity made it feel like trying to breathe underwater. Never-the-less, it was race day and it was time to get to work. We got our bibs all sorted out, did a bit of a warmup run, then waited for the gun to go off at 7:30AM. When it finally did, I did my best to find the right rhythm to keep me at the pace I wanted to run. I had planned to try for 46:00 or somewhere close, and I thought I’d do that starting out the first mile at 7:25 then ratcheting it down a bit with each mile. Within the first mile, I could tell that a 7:25 pace felt like far more work than it should, and I’d blow up if I kept it there, so I backed off a bit. I never really did find a groove, and my splits were all over the board. In the end, I ran a 47:13 for an average pace of 7:37 per mile. Definitely far better than my first 10K, but not where I wanted it to be. I know the heat and humidity played a role, but I really think my lack of focussed training was the bigger culprit. I did manage to score my first hardware at a running race by placing third in my age group, so that was fun. Once I got home and saw the official results, I also found out I came in 8th overall (out of a little over a hundred). Also pretty cool.
The best part of the day, however, was seeing my wife complete her first 5K in about 4 years. She’s been working very hard at C25K, and this was her graduation race! I couldn’t be more proud of her. She never stopped to walk at all, even despite the heat. She now has her eyes set on a 10K later this summer and I’m sure she’ll nail that too. Here we are just prior to the race.