Do you realize I've never done a 10k before? I mean, I've run a 10k at the end of an Olympic distance race. And I've run 10k in training. And I've run way farther than 10k. But this race was my first-ever 10k race.
Consequently, I was a little bit nervous. I've been hammering the run this year, working hard to increase my speed all winter long. I'm definitely faster than I was a year ago, or even three months ago. I'm improving all the time. But I had no idea about how to pace myself for a 10k, and I had nothing against which to compare it. So I wasn't sure what to expect.
The Easter Sun Run is the first big road race of the season for Wichita runners, and there are lots and lots of people from the community, as well. So the starting line was jam-packed. I seeded myself about halfway back. The first minor annoyance was two very tall guys who came and stood right in front of me. It was like a large, red and yellow wall decided to move directly in front of me and stop. Frickin' tall people.
Anyway, the race was pretty uneventful, and I don't have much to report. I held way back for the first 5k, watching people pass me and thinking for sure that I could keep up with them, but not wanting to blow up later in the race. There were a couple times when I drafted off of faster runners, then reminded myself that I wouldn't be able to hold their pace for another 7k.
At the halfway mark, I started negative splitting my kilometer times, getting progressively faster. And it felt great! In retrospect, I'm sure it hurt, but not too bad. I was pushing it, but not to the point of wanting to throw up or pass out or anything.
Around the 7k mark, I passed this skinny little high school boy, all arms and legs, huffing and puffing up a hill (by which I mean a bridge that we had to run up for a few yards). Dropped him and thought nothing of it. Just a little after the 9k mark, I see him again. He sounds like he's still hurting, but he's definitely outpacing me. I go with him. Skinny little bastard's not gonna pass me in the final kilometer! We were probably at least 400m from the finish, still; maybe 600m. But I cranked it up anyway, dropped his skinny ass, and ran for home. By the end, I was absolutely yelling with the effort, and it felt incredible. I don't know how much time I put on him, but I didn't see him at the finish line. I'm going to assume that I ran so fast that he disappeared in a big, blue cloud of my awesome.
Final time was 54:07, according to the official results; 54:03, according to the pace clock at the finish line; and 53:55, according to my heart rate monitor, which takes into account the time it took me to get to the starting line after the air horn sounded. So we're going to go with 53:55 and say that I ran my first 10k in under 54 minutes.
You wanna talk about strange, though? I finished 301 out of 602, at the very, very bottom of the top half. Weird. And the other strange thing (to me) is that my age group isn't that fast. Top F 19-22 time was 47:05. That's not that fast; I think I could run that, eventually.
But by far the best part of this race is that my family was there. My dad (who is kind of a runner) came out for the 10k (which he finished in 1:10:20, but he could have done way faster if he hadn't been keeping another runner company). My mom did the 2-mile walk, which is a big deal because she's significantly less active than my dad and me. My brother had band practice all morning (he played the bass for Easter service at their church). And equally significant was that my client, Kim, did her first ever 10k! She said she ran kilometer 8 for me, and every time she wanted to stop and walk she told herself, "No! I'm not gonna quit on Jamie!" The cool part is that I got to see her and cheer her on near the beginning of that kilometer.
So all in all, a great race. I'm happy with my performance (8:40/mile! Hell yes!), but I still think I can do better. I'm proud of my family, and of my clients, who did a great job. It was a great race and a (surprisingly) beautiful day.
Note: My mom is the one in the picture by herself; Kim is in the picture with my dad and me. I know; it's weird. But look at the facial features! It should be clear which two out of those three people are my parents.