I ran my first 10k race this past weekend at the Fathers Day 5k/10k race in Ventura, CA on Sunday, June 14, 2015. Last year I ran the 5k and had a great day with a 5k PR.
I entered this race pretty much at the last minute. The race was on my radar but I’ve been working on re-gearing my workouts and training and the miles have been rolling in an inconsistent way with very short miles on weekdays and only medium long runs on weekends.
My approach for the race was to go in and hit a pace that was just past uncomfortable while keeping my form. That’s more of a workout mentality but I was good with that and I would get some insight from this first 10k race.
I got up around 5:30 a.m. and the weather was perfect. It was overcast and foggy with a slight drizzle. I hit the road at 7 a.m. to head towards Ventura then realized that even though I was only driving 20 minutes away that the drizzle could actually be a full rain in Ventura and I didn’t have a rain jacket with me. Oops.
In keeping with the workout approach to the race, I wore one of my favorite shirts which happens to be cotton. There is a portion of the race course that turns up from Surfer’s Point past the railroad crossing and there is usually a mean cross wind so I made sure to bandage up the nipples.
I got to the Crowne Plaza parking lot around 7:20 a.m. and took my time moseying over to the main race area. The last of the tables and signs were being put in place. I was a bit early for the the 8:15 a.m. start time. I didn’t worry about stretching too much and didn’t do any warmup jogs this time. I figured that in a 10k race I wouldn’t need that much water and there were plenty of aid stations so I didn’t carry any water on me.
My friend Dan was also running that day and we chatted for a while until it got closer to go time. I went over to take photos and video of the kids 1k Fun Run race then 10k racers filed into the starting area. People were pretty shy to head off to the front of the starting line pack and there was a big gap just behind the frontrunners.
At 8:15 the air horn soft of misfired but we headed off on the run. I didn’t get caught up in the early adrenaline of the race and took a nice steady pace, much slower than 5k pace. I felt good with the cool air and felt light not having to carry water. The only thing I had bouncing around was the iPhone in my front pocket. I had one earbud on and played my “5k run” playlist which has several songs with 180 beats per minute songs which encourage quick leg turnover.
The first aid station was only a mile out but I took some Gatorade, chugged it then crushed the cup and kept it in my pocket. My legs weren’t moving as fast as I wanted but I decided to go with the pace and see how I felt later on.
Not that I wasn’t having fun but one way to stay focused and motivated in a race is to zero in on people then reel them in. Olympian/runner/coach Jeff Galloway has a few other mental tricks that he shares like pretending someone up ahead has a giant rubber band around them and then one pretends to be pulled by that person in the rubber band. I don’t really like that kind of visualization because it relies on trying to take something away from someone else for one’s gain. But, I guess I was feeling somewhat competitive and found a couple of runners to reel in. This was actually a good mental exercise because I was behind them for about two miles before I caught up with them.
On the other hand, I think I was being reeled in by someone else. I heard some heavy breathing behind me near mile 3. The person didn’t pass me there then we got to little climb and I shifted into high gear and the breathing got louder but it didn’t fall behind.
At the mile 3+ turnaround I took down half a GU and got two waters, one to drink and one to pour over my head. After my Leona Divide experience I didn’t want to take any chances with dehydration sneaking up on me so I was pretty wet with sweat and water as I made my way back for the second half of the race.
Not long after the turnaround the heavy breathing person powered past me. A little after that I took a walk break and checked my heart rate and it was up to 174 which is pretty high for me. When I train by heart rate I usually take it easy when I get to the low 160’s. After this brief slow down I started the jog again and shortly after that passed the two runners that I mentioned earlier.
I didn’t panic and think “Oh, crap, I’m falling apart.” I’ve run the entire course many times and know how I react to different parts. There are just some areas where it feels like things get tough then they even out so I just kept moving at a moderate pace until things evened out. At mile 4.5 I hit the last aid station and once again drank and poured water on my head. Another person had passed me earlier on and I finally caught up to him again. It was mile 5 and there weren’t too many other racers around me and I couldn’t spot the other racers in front of me. Apparently the heavy breather had kept pushing on and was no longer in sight.
I started pushing the pace and passed a few people but they were either general beach runners or they were part of the Ventura Marathon training run that was going on. Because I didn’t have anyone to try and reel in I just tried to keep my form and run strong the last mile. The last part of the 10k run is the same route as the 5k and I remember that last year the final little turnaround before the pier seemed like it was miles away so I told myself that I had to go and kiss the pier. That made for a bigger target and I was glad that I didn’t actually have to go the extra hundred feet to the pier before the last turnaround.
I had a clear path to the finish line and could see that no one was close behind me so I just picked up the pace and cruised in for the finish at 1:13:10, a 10k PR since it was my first 10k.
Tale of the tape and some questions
The 1:13:10 time was at a 11:48 min/mile pace for the 10k. My 5k PR average pace was 9:13 min/mile and my half marathon PR average pace was a 11:34 min/mile pace. My 10k pace was slower than my half marathon pace!
I mentioned that I did a heart rate check just after the half way turnaround but the last half mile of the race was much higher at an average of 182 bpm! When I run there is usually a good correlation between heart rate and “discomfort” from running. In other words, if I feel like I’m hurting and I’ve been fueling properly, then I can be pretty sure that my heart rate is getting into the red zone. This race I tried to run just into the mild discomfort zone and my heart rate was super high. Does that mean that I was undertrained and thus my body had to exert much more to get a mediocre pace going? Maybe the cool weather helped block some of the discomfort that should have resulted after getting to those heart rate zones?
Either way, I felt fine the whole race and finished strong and not exhausted. Those are good signs but I just have to keep an eye on my heart rate I as continue training for upcoming races.
After the race I met up with Dan again and we stayed around for the bike raffle. I won a beautiful beach cruiser from the general raffle last year. I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t see Dan come by on the out and back portions of the race but then I figured out that he did the 5k race. He crushed it and came in 4th overall and first in his age group.He’s a couple of years older than I am so there is hope for me in that folks around my age are still kicking some serious ass in races.
Even though my pace kind of sucked I had a good race and learned some important things about the distance and how my body reacted.
You can see my race stats on Strava and feel free to follow me!
Have any races coming up? Leave me a comment. Feel free to leave questions in the Comments section as well and thanks for tuning in!