The start of this training week I pushed the envelop, just a tad. I had won an entry to the U.S. 10K Classic for September 6th. I had decided to run this race to make up for my poor showing on the course last year. Not to make excuses, but 3 days prior to the race, I gave blood. I had no idea that it would effect me a few days later like it did. So, this year I needed a little payback to myself.
The race was to start at 7:45AM for the runners/walkers. I arrived at the Cobb Galleria about 1 hour and 15 minutes prior to the race. At that point I felt good, so I decided to make this 10K race into my 15 mile training run.
I started a 3 mile pre-run 25 minutes prior to the start of the race. I ran out 13 minutes and back for a little less than 12. Arriving at the start line there was less than 1 minute to go before they began the race.
I jocked myself about a quarter the way in from the front. I did not want to be in the front because if I was the pace out would be fast.
I hung back a little in the pack, but noticed a huge group of similar white shirts taking up most of the road holding hands. By the size of the participants I knew they were walkers, so I quickly got in front of them right as the gun went off.
My goal was to push a 7:10 pace out and then grab a drink and turnaround and head back in the opposite direction. 12.4 miles was the goal.
The first mile was fast at 6:44. I slowed the pace and had to continue to think about the return journey. Runners of all shapes and sizes passed me while I was cruising along at a 7+ pace. I kept thinking in my head, "how can this dude that is overweight be passing me"? But, I had to remember that he might only be training for this race, or he is a short distance runner. I had to think about this a lot as women, men and kids passed by. Now, don't get me wrong, I passed more runners than passed me, but it does mess with the brain, especially when you know you could take them any day of the week. Stick to the plan.
The hills on this course are brutal. They go, up, up, up, then a sharp steep drop down then right back up. The inclines are not short. Each one is 1/4 to 3/4 of a mile long upwards. I held pace on most of the hills except for the monster on mile 4. It is long and steep. I dropped pace a little to conserve energy. A few runners passed, but I said to myself that they are not running back to the start so let them go!
At about 4.5 miles into the race, a female runner in her late 20's came up on my left. We had just started a decline and she floated down the hill as I felt heavy and awkward.
Right after the decline the road rose upwards again. This time it was I that floated up while she labored. Back and forth this went, she took the downs and I took the ups. On the very brief flats I was a little faster but only by a step. I decided to dial in behind her to mimic her pace for the last mile.
The uphill I moved ahead. The downhill she took the lead. Once we passed the KFC Chicken on the right, I noticed her pace increase. With the finish (for her) in sight I increased my pace and took the uphill fast. A downhill followed as she was right on the left side of me. With around 600 meters to go, the track instincts took over and I bolted ahead. Out of the corner of my eye I saw another runner gaining ground on me from the right. I was at a sub 6 pace at this time and had to hold back as I let him go. When I hit the line I said, 6.2 more to go.
I grabbed a few drinks, downed one Gatorade, got my shirt and hat and headed back towards the finish. I secured all my prizes from the 6.2 mile race and headed back out on the course on the opposite side to complete my 15 mile run.
About a 1/4 mile from the finish I heard a familiar voice, Ann Marie was barreling down the hill behind all things a stroller. She said, "Hey Corey" as I waved and chuckled, thinking this is going to be a good story about the kid in the stroller.
Making my way back to the start, I was amazed at the amount of runners I saw running the race. As far as the eye could see up and down the hills were bodies in motion heading towards their final destination. I ended up seeing the last runner/walker at the 2 Mile marker heading out (Mile 4.2 for me) at about 1 hour and 20 minutes. All I could think of was that this is going to be a long day. 1.25 hours to travel 2 miles puts their race north of 3.75 hours for a 10K.
It made my trip back not so painful as I made my way over the very steep hills that were my downhills just an hour earlier.
I was glad that I am able to adjust my patterns in a moments notice when I decided to make this a 15 mile run. It also gave me the ability to fatigue the legs and grind through the last 6 miles just like in a marathon. The race doesn't start until mile 20 on a marathon and I felt that on Monday.