On Sunday, July 16, 2017, I ran the 10k race at the Clearwater Lake Half Marathon, as a “tune up” race. A tune up race is an opportunity for me to test my ability level during my training plan, as most of my runs are done at a fairly easy pace. This gives me a chance to see how fast and fit I actually am, to get some experience running under genuine race conditions, and lets me tweak my goal time for my marathon based on how I finish in this race.
I use an online tool called the VDOT calculator (https://runsmartproject.com/calculator/) to figure out my estimated finishing times. It lets you plug in a time for a recent race, and it then tells you how fast your training runs should be, and also what time you’d be expected to finish at each race distance based on your current fitness level. Based on my marathon goal time of 3:10, I know I should be able to run a 10k in under 42 minutes, so that was the goal I set for this race. The competitive part of me knew that 42 minutes is pretty good for a small sized race, so I was hoping to come in 1st or at least in the top 3. Another goal I had was to beat my previous best 10k time of 41:11 that I set 6 years ago, though I figured that was a long shot.
The weather today was near ideal for running a summer race – under 20 degrees, cloudy, with a light breeze. I got to the race early enough to go through my warm up routine, do a bit of light jogging and some stretches, then got lined up at the start line to race.
First 3 km: I jumped out in front early, and ran the opening stretch at a fast pace. Often the adrenaline and jitters at the start line make you start out too fast and fade later, so I forced myself to slow down a bit and try to get into a comfortable pace. One thing about racing a 10k is the pace is way faster than a half marathon or marathon which I’m more accustomed to. I used my GPS watch to tell me how fast I was going and whether I was on pace to beat my goal time, because I didn’t really have a feel for how fast I should be running at. But after the 3 km mark, I was still well on pace to come under my goal time, and nobody else was in sight.
3-6 km: I continued on at a good pace, waved off the volunteers at the water station (didn’t want to slow down), and hit the turnaround point and started heading back the way I came. I met up with the rest of the 10k pack that was still running out, and exchanged high fives with them as we passed. So far, everything is feeling really good. I was working hard, but felt like I still had a lot of energy to push through. I did hit one minor snag as I came to a crossing and couldn’t see the marker telling me which way to go. After stopping for a few seconds and asking one of the volunteers for directions, I eventually found the right path. I had lost about 10 seconds, but I felt like I could make it up.
6-10 km: This was where I had to really dig in. I was way out in front and figured I was a sure thing to win it at this point, but looking at my watch I realized I was on pace to not only beat my personal best time, but maybe even break the 40 minute barrier! In order to do so, however, I’d need to pick up the pace even more. At this point I started to overtake the 5k walkers on the course, and there’s always a bit of a mental boost when you pass somebody on the course so that helped me find the energy to push myself harder. I turned the final corner, still just under the 40 minute mark, and broke into an all-out sprint and gave everything I had to cross the finish line….in 39:45! I did it!
I was physically exhausted, wheezing and struggling to catch my breath, but I was extremely happy that I surpassed all three of my goals that day – Under 42 minutes, new personal best, and finish 1st, with a bonus goal of breaking the 40 minute barrier.
A big thank you goes out to all the volunteers that made this race happen, including the race organizers, the volunteers out on the course, the photographers, and the cooks who provided a pancake breakfast afterwards. It was a great day with a really nice turnout and everybody seemed to be enjoying themselves. Also, congratulations to all the other runners on the course today, you all killed it. (Special shout out to my wife Emma, who also ran the 10k and beat her personal best with a time of 1:11:05).
28 more days until the big race, and based on today I’m feeling good about that 3:10 time. Only 4 more weeks of training to go! Almost there!
Before Race After Race