Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dolphin South End Runners Club Waterfront 10-miler

Today was my first road race of the season -- running road race, that is. In late 2008 I seat a goal of racing the Austin Marathon in 2009. It would be a fairly tight schedule, but I'd thought I could do it. Things were going well, as I raced first the Dolphin South End Runner's Club Embarcadero 10km road race, then the Pacific Coast Trail Runs Woodside 17 km, then the Run Wild for a Child 10 km road race. But then poor health following a cycling trip to Thailand and Laos put a stick into the spokes of that idea. But I built back some running fitness in time for the Enviro-Sports Woodside half-marathon trail run in Feb 2009.

Cycling took my focus back after that. But in fall of 2009, I returned to a running/cycling mix to my activity. Unfortunately my enthusiasm got the better of me, though, and I ramped up my runs too quickly. Ever since then, I've had issues with my left leg, primarily the ITB. But I've been working on that, and it's coming around.

So finally this season a return to some racing. Last weekend I did the Coastal Trail Runs 17 km in Woodside (the same course as my first trail run), then this weekend, a return to my favorite low-key running series, the Dolphin South End Runners races. This time: the Waterfront 10 miler.

This race was on the same course as the Embarcadero 10km, except it goes further: past the Ballpark, cross the bridge on 3rd St, along Terry Francois, then left on Illinois to the turn-around at 5 miles. Return. All roads I know very well.

My goal: 70 minutes. I knew that would be a bit of a challenge, as I've been doing absolutely no speedwork this year, just focusing on getting some endurance without hurting myself. My trail run last weekend was my first bout of fast running. And that was virtually all up or down and on dirt or relatively soft trail surface.

It's really hard to keep enthusiasm at bay during the start of a running race. I felt we were doing a nice pace, slightly fast, when someone nearby wearing a Garmin told me it was a 6:15 mile pace. Whoa! No way I could sustain that. So I throttled back, tried to find a rhythm I could find tolerable for the more than 9 miles remaining.

Despite slowing, I still hit the first mile marker in around 6:40. I was ahead of schedule, and fast starts are always punished in running. But I wanted to keep my mile splits in the 6:50 to 6:59 range the rest of the way. I was feeling better than expected. If I didn't do anything dumb, 70 minutes looked fairly doable.

I almost did that. I lost a bit of time near the turn-around on an uphill, but near the end I really did start to fade. Still, it's important to not let goal-creep get you down: I handily beat my 70-minute target.
Here's some numbers:

10 mile race splits

Note the plot is mislabeled as 10 km rather than 10 miles...

Sure, I would have liked to be faster. I would have liked to not have faded. But hey: reality check! Each of these miles was one of the ten fastest miles I've run on level ground this year. I faded, but I never cracked. I'll put that in the bank and move on.

And, more important, I seem to have handled the effort okay, soreness-wise. So hopefully I can build on this one, rather than having it break me down.

My 10 km splits weren't so great in comparison to my goal of beating 40 minutes at that distance, this was a longer race, my longest road race ever, and so obviously it's going to be a bit slower. On the other hand, were I to extend it out to a marathon, it's 3:02:37. I'd still like to qualify for Boston, maybe in 2011, and this shows I have some room to give up pace and still do that. Obviously I'd need to get a lot more solid training in to do a full marathon, though.

Next race: back to Woodside for another Pacific Coast 17 km trail run in Huddart on 6 Feb. I love that course! It conflicts with the San Francisco Half Marathon on the same day, but while road running is fun and is good for setting absolute time goals, running trails is such a wonderful experience, I'll go with the trail run this time.

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