Dam run to Irmo 10k
This is a large 10k that has been around for 24 years, usually draws a very competitive crowd. The course is point to point and a net downhill, so pretty PR friendly. It does have one loop through a neighborhood that is fairly hilly, however. Race time temps were 70 degrees and high humidity, not very pleasant given some recent cool temps we’ve had. I had given myself 2 days off in an attempt to really kill my PR (43:18).
The 2 miles are flat across a large dam and then downhill into a neighborhood area. From the gun, I tried to pace myself with two women that run very similar 5k times to me. I had thought I should probably be in the 6:35-40 range for the 10k, though it had been greater than 6 months since my last. With the rest and the pancake flat first mile, everything felt pretty good. They had time callers at each mile, and the guy yells out a 6:18. I thought he was mistaken, but Garmin confirmed it, and that was where I sealed my fate. I was still going pretty strong until pretty near the second mile marker. I had tried to rein it back in and go a little slower, hit mile 2 at 6:38, though the timer told me 13 flat for the two miles. After the second mile marker was that hilly neighborhood area. It really is probably only a half mile loop. The inclines there hit me pretty hard, and the wind sucking commenced. After that loop we came out onto a straight road with a few rolling inclines, but nothing major. I was getting real nervous, because I was laboring a lot worse than I should not even halfway into a race. Not only was I breathing hard but I was feeling a lot of leg fatigue too. Hit mile 3 in the high 19’s, Garmin shows me a 6:52 now, though I didnt look during the race. I realized by then that I was in trouble, and was hurting pretty bad. I focused on just trying to get to the next mile marker and not think about how far I had to go. All I can say that I am eternally thankful the rest of the race was pretty flat or downhill. It was all suffering from there and I really didnt enjoy any part of the last 3 miles. Hit successive splits of 6:53, 6:48, 6:52. I am really surprised they were this fast. I’m used to negative splits on my races so they felt a lot slower. I did get to 5 miles at 34 minutes flat, so I knew if I could just hold on I would still get a PR. In my last mile I got passed by a few people, including some I regularly beat in 5ks, which added to me basically hating life at that point. Was so thankful to see the finish, saw the 41’s disappearing before me and no chance to break 42 ( which has been a goal for 2010), just zero in the tank to mount any kind of kick. Crossed at 42:11. 30th overall, something like 6th or 7th in my AG. I feel bad feeling this crappy about a good time and a PR of over a minute, but I think I had convinced myself that I could do 40:xx or better. Oh well, I guess this was a good learning experience in what was only my 6th 10k ever. Those two women I talked about finished 38:57 and 39:15 respectively – they clearly are better at the longer distances!
Dry Run 5k
This is a small local 5k that is fairly flat with a few small inclines. One of the better courses to PR on in my area. Turnout was about 70, with a fair amount of decent runners since there was prize money involved. It might have been bigger but the Gamecocks played Georgia at noon, so I’m sure this took some of the crowd. Temps were OK, probably low 70’s, humidity not too bad. I arrived an hour early, as is my routine, but hit a snag when they said I hadnt preregistered. I was almost sure I had, but I guess the online transaction didnt go through. Luckily the race was in the middle of Columbia, so I was able to hit an ATM without too much trouble. Didnt like the stress though. I only did a mile warmup instead of my 2 miles because of the time. I was kind of nervous at the start because seemingly every decent 35-39er showed up for this one. One of the guys I knew I couldnt beat (Eric A), another (Darrell) has been my target for much of the past 6 months as the gap between us has shrunk significantly. He used to beat me by almost 2 minutes for most of 09.
With the gun, a fellow age grouper, Eric M, went out like a bolt of lightning and gapped me by probably 15 seconds very quickly. I went out fast too, and was just trying to keep Eric within a reasonable distance. Darrell was out even faster than Eric. I was concerned about my pace until I looked down at mile 1 and saw 6:11. That’s one of my faster 5k splits, so I knew I wasnt going too slow. Felt OK, though was already breathing hard. Pretty soon Eric M just completely bonked and I passed him easily, I imagine he might of done a sub 6 first mile. Darrell was still way ahead of me. Started to feel the hurt in the 2nd mile, but I knew there was a nice sized pack right on my heels. It felt like I was about to be trampled at any second. Hearing all those footsteps behind me definitely made me keep up the pace. Second mile slowed a little, but still at 6:26. I was really hurting in that third mile, but knowing I only have 1.1 left is a huge motivator for me. The course had a small half mile loop at its end, and this is where I decided to absolutely redline it. Passed the one guy near me and then saw Darrell up ahead. I pushed it as hard as I could and I knew he was fading, but he had just enough of a gap on me. He got me by 4 seconds, and I crossed at 19:40. Finished 6th overall, but had to settle for 3rd in age group. Got a nice glass as an award. Did 4 miles with some friends (including Darrell) as a cool down, 8 and change total for the day. I wanted to make a PR attempt but I’m always happy with any time starting with a 19. Went home and crashed on the couch, and thoroughly enjoyed watching the Gamecocks whip the Bulldogs.
Crooked 5k – Chapin, SC
This is a small 5k tied in with the Labor Day festival in the small town of Chapin, SC. It usually competes with a very large 15k on the same weekend, so turnout is usually sparse. I placed 4th last year out of 50 some-odd runners with a 22:04 time. I expected quite a few more this year though, because the 15k was cancelled for 2010. Turnout was actually was about the same though, about 50-70 people. This race is hurt by being old school – stamp and mail entry only and no chip timing. Weather was OK, about 70 degrees and sunny. Course winds through a county park – a fair amount of small inclines on paved trail and 3 sections of open grassy field. I was not feeling well yesterday, and this continued today. Dealing with a head cold, cough and some muscle aches yesterday. I felt a little better today but tired. I saw 2 people ahead of time that would beat me for sure and there were 3 military guys (ended up being a group of guys fresh out of west point who ran cross country for them) that looked like they would crush me too. So despite the small group, I knew I had no chance of placing overall. The top female from our running club was also there (amy) whom I’ve been trading places with all year, usually right together with our times.
The first and last half miles were in an open grassy field. With the start the west point guys and the 2 others I mentioned quickly jumped out to the lead, and I was in fifth. By the end of the field I was already breathing hard, so I knew this was going to be a rough one. After the field we plunged into the winding trail portion. I got passed by an older guy near the first mile marker, and I was really gassed as I passed it in 6:22. I actually considered dropping out soon thereafter – I just felt bad and my legs were feeling a lot weaker than usual. Sicne I had driven all that way and had never dropped out before, I instead decided to back off the pace a little. I let Amy pass me as she had been drafting and I knew she was going to beat me today. Backing off the pace just a little seemd to help a lot, and I felt I could make it after that. Second mile featured a long lap around some baseball fields and some tricky footing with gravel, dirt and grass. There were two very small open loops toward the end of the second mile which gave me a chance to assess the field. My friend Tyler and another guy were closer than I would have liked but I still had a decent gap. Hit mile 2 at 6:36. Older guy that passed me in mile 1 started fading a little and I was soon right behind him. I drafted him for about a quarter mile, then passed him as we headed back out into the open field starting area. Saw military guys cross the line (they finished together at 17:57) as I began the last grueling stretch, where you can see the finish line but have to complete a lap to get there. I was really hurting by this time, not much left in the tank. A third military guy passed me around the 2.75 mile point, which was rough because I always pride myself on finishing strong and never letting any passes in the final mile. I was closing in on Amy but there just wasnt enough room to catch her. As i hit the final tenth, I heard footsteps and I knew it was older guy. I burned it as hard as I could to the finish and finished maybe a step ahead of him. 20:30ish, I think, maybe faster – I really couldnt tell because I was dead set on making sure this guy didnt outkick me. Finished 7th overall and 1st in age group. Happy with the result, especially given the way I was feeling and the cross country-esque course. Won a coffee mug – which was a nice break from medals. Did a 2 mile cooldown on the course with some friends.
They also finally posted the Chapin 5k results. I was at a full on sprint the last tenth with that dude on my heels (thigpen) so I never saw the finish time. It was actually better than I thought – 20:15.