Sunday, May 23, 2010

Huntly Half 2010: 10k race report

Today I ran my first standalone 10k since 2007 (when I ran what's still my disappointing 10k PB of 47:54 to finally break 48:00 ).

I had no idea what to expect- apart from my recent MAF test (and a couple of super sprint tris), I haven't run faster than about a 6 minute k, or at a heart rate over 155, since I started training again in March- but I thought I could do OK. I didn't really have a *goal* per se, but I think my rough ideas were:

Exceeds expectations: anything sub 48
Outstanding: anything between 48 and about 49:30
Acceptable: anything sub 52
Poor: 53ish
Dreadful: 54-55ish
Troll: over 55

I warmed up for about 90 seconds (lame), with a few pick-ups. I found that my "fastish" pace in warm up tended to be in the mid-high 4:00s (4:37-4:40 ish), which I thought was a good sign. But my legs were feeling stiff even from the start- I definitely should be doing more stretching, as this past week hasn't exactly been a tough one, and I probably should have warmed up better too.

I seeded myself in the middle-front of the pack- in a position I think probably roughly reflected my eventual finishing time. But I saw a disturbing number of baggy capris, logo t-shirts and sensible shoes around me, and realised I'd be running right into the back of people as soon as we started. So, I skipped forward another 7 rows or so, until I felt like I was seeding myself rather optimistically. But I was STILL surrounded by muppet walkers. Sigh! Why is this a problem in every race??!!! It's not rocket science!

Luckily, it didn't take too long to get through, and within a minute or so the field had spread out pretty well. I looked down at my garmin (which was set to show lap pace, time and distance, and to autolap every 1k) and it said 4:14. Oops!

Although I've done a few half marathons recently, most of my racing has been in tris or dus and it was strange starting running on fresh-ish legs. I checked my pace so it slowed to about 4:37, but it kept sneaking down again, and I finished the first k in around 4:35 thinking either I'm going to crush my PB, or I'm going to blow up spectacularly. I hoped for the former, but suspected the latter was more likely.

I kept a more sensible pace for the next couple of ks. They were a little hillier- with about 4 wee bridge climbs over ks 1-5, and a bit off offroad grass running. Nothing to complain about, but it does slow you down maybe 5-10s a k, I think. I certainly noticed that, although my pace stayed safely in the high 4:40s/low 4:50s on the road, it crept up towards the 5:00s on the grass and gravel.

I raced a blonde girl in a baby blue t-shirt, and a guy with gross hair, a way too loose offwhite wife-beater and too much visible underarm. Really, I should have made it my aim to pass wife-beater guy and find some tastier eye candy! I think I hooked up with this group at around 3 or 4k, and I finished within probably 30s to a minute of all of them. I think the fact that, on the whole, I spent most of the race with roughly the same people suggests that although I undeniably started too fast, my gradually slowing pace was due at least in part to the changes in the course- from road, to bridge, to grass, to gravel.

I hit 5k in about 24:20, and knew a PB was out of the question. I wasn't supposed to be looking at my HR, but I caught a glimpse as I whizzed past it to check time and average overall pace at 5k, and it was in the mid 180s. I was definitely starting to feel it, but knowing I only had lap markers 6, 7 and 8 to go before I got to drop the hammer for the last km kept me moving along- and so did my ongoing race with baby blue girl!

The last few ks (I think from 7 to 9.5ish) were almost entirely on the gravel lake walkway. Although I think it slowed me down (I saw some disturbingly high 5:20s and worse during this section), I really liked the feeling of making my way around the lake- I could see roughly where the finish area was on the other side of the lake, and chipping away at the remaining distance bit by bit was remarkably satisfying (unlike at Blue Lake, where the beach seems to keep moving away as you run around the lake track!). My race with baby blue girl intensified- we were at the awkward stage where we were running at about the same pace, so neither could properly pass the other. Every time I moved to pass, I had to keep the pace up for quite a while before moving back to the left. And sure enough, as soon as I did it, she'd be ahead again- but just close enough to my pace that she felt slightly "in the way"... if that makes sense.

I finally passed her for real around the 9km marker. I knew the last k would not be over quickly, but was pretty confident I could pick up the pace a bit. I remember looking at my watch 30s or so after the autolap changed over and realising that I only had an 800 left. I remembered all of those fast 800s I did, back when I was a runner, and tried to knuckle down.

Not far before the finish line, we joined the half marathoners again. They were going for a 2 hour finish, and were cutting it pretty fine, so although we 10k-ers were a little faster, pace-wise, they were more determined. Some were just slow enough to get in the way- but the finish line of a multi-distance race is the one place where I (as a total mid-packer*) don't think the usual "slow gives way to fast" rules apply. If they've run 11ks more than me, I'm not going to get too irritated if they're in my space! I had enough in me to start a couple of sprint-offs with some of the half-marathoners- but not quite enough in the legs to keep them up. Ah well- I feel good knowing I spurred a couple of people to finish 3-5s faster than they might otherwise have ;)

In the end, I crossed the finish line at somewhere around 49:40 on the clock. I probably crossed the mats 10-15 seconds after the gun, so I guess my net time might just slip into the 49:20s, which would be nice. My garmin time is 49:08. That's wrong (I started it a little after the start mats because the damn thing switched off JUST as the gun went off), but if I extrapolate it, I end up with 49:26 or so, so I guess 10-15s off is about right. I suppose that instead of trying to conjure up an answer, I can just wait and see what the official time is!

So, I guess that puts me somewhere between acceptable and outstanding. It certainly feels like an "acceptable" effort to me. But "acceptable" is pretty good really, for an unfit and overweight me!

Splits, for Paul:

AHR 1780 X1.00@ 00:04:37
1830 X1.00@ 00:04:48
1820 X1.00@ 00:04:54
1840 X1.00@ 00:04:55
1850 X1.00@ 00:05:04
1840 X1.00@ 00:05:06
1840 X1.00@ 00:05:11
1850 X1.00@ 00:04:58
1860 X1.00@ 00:05:07
1880 X0.93@ 00:04:25

*of course, it'd be a whole different kettle of fish if I were actually WINNING the 10k and some slow-ass half walkers were in my way. Then there'd be swearing.


Pip said...

Nice race! I think it sounds like you paced yourself pretty well. I'm just hoping for sub-60 in June, but if it doesn't happen I won't be too upset. I must work out how to set my Garmin to do the kilometre thing. I know it's easy enough, I've just never bothered!

Andrew is getting fit said...

Sounds like you had a fairly decent race.

The conditions were rather perfect for running I thought.

And yes, the walkers were rather annoying. I still don't understand why folks who are walking want to start in front.

I'd better get my HM race report up too!

E-Speed said...

I love the edit at the bottom :) Sounds like a good effort. I find the more racing I do the better I get at falling into that race groove and the right pace early on, and the days I do the best, are the ones that while hard, feel the easiest, if that makes any dang sense at all :) Hope to see you back on your way to runner shape soon!