Last year I ran the Man Up Father’s Day 10K as my first 10K, so I signed up for it again this year. Last year, I trained from January-March for a 5K and then for 10 weeks for the 10K, so I’d been working on speed the whole year. When I started to do some speedwork earlier this month after half marathon training all year, it became clear that I was in no shape to race a 10K, so I switched to the 5K.
The 5K race starts near Heinz Field on the North Shore. It goes past PNC Park then onto River Ave. that parallels the river trail. It loops back onto the river trail (where the 10K and 5K courses merge) and finishes beside the river in front of Heinz Field. It’s a flat course and one I run a lot since it’s very close to my house.
Lululemon Iris Flower/Pretty Purple Stripe What the Sport Singlet
Pretty Purple All Sport Bra
Black Pace Rival Skirt
My best friend from high school and college, Darcey, was also running the 5K, her first race after a very long hiatus from running. But she had an accident last week and wasn’t sure she could run the race. I encouraged her to run it slowly or walk it and told her I might do it with her. I told her if the weather was at all decent, I would race it, but if not I’d run or walk at her pace with her. (Funny story: She was so concerned about having a slow time posted in the race results that she called the race director to say she would be walking it and to not publish her results. Ha ha! He told her not to wear the timing chip.)
I had a late night Friday night for a bar crawl for a friend’s 40th birthday (so much fun!!!), spent all day Saturday on the move, and then stayed up late drinking wine Saturday night–all things I would never do before a race. But I was just going to be running it slowly and walking, so I didn’t really care.
My nonchalance continued on Sunday morning as I prepared for the race, such that I completely forgot to put my timing chip on my shoe and headed to the race without it. I had to get a new number at the start, which is why I have two different numbers in the pictures and why my results are listed under #1255 and not my name.
|My best friend from high school and college, Darcey, and me before the race|
Before the Race
It was 70F and 100% humidity when I left my house, but it was cloudy and breezy, which helped make it not feel so bad. By the way, I checked my running log, and it was 53F at the race start last year! I met Darcey and her boyfriend, who was also running the 5K, and Darcey excitedly informed me that she was going to run the race. There went my excuse for running it slowly! We were there early so had a lot of time to talk to people, use the porta-potties (which were disgusting from the Rolling Stones concert the night before), cheer the 10K runners on when they started, then get in line. I ran into Mike from Daily Mile and Kim from This Runner’s Fuel and got to meet Tony from Runderful Life. There were Steel City Road Runners members as pacers, and Tony was one of them. It’s awesome that this race has so many pacers!
I looked between the 9:30 and 10:00 pacers, unsure of my strategy. My 5K goal pace–which I have only achieved once–is 9:30. I knew I wasn’t in shape to run the whole race at 9:30, but should I start with the 9:30 pacer? I chose the safer strategy, to start with the 10:00 pacer and then, if I felt good, speed up. Plus, I knew that even 10:00 would be a challenge since my tempo run the week before at a 10:16-10:25 pace was very tough.
I introduced myself to the 10:00 pacer, Laura, and told her my strategy. Then I said, “I’m scared.” Just minutes before the race start, it hit me: I was about to race a 5K. It’s the same feeling I get before every 5K–I know it’s going to hurt, and hurt a lot, but I don’t know exactly when the pain is going to hit and exactly what it’s going to feel like and I’m terrified.
Mile 1: 9:48
Oh, that glorious first mile. I felt good. I felt strong. The pace felt very manageable. I found myself thinking, Maybe this is the day that I develop that super power to run at a fast pace while feeling it’s easy. I stuck close to Laura, even though I felt like I could speed up. My heart rate data shows I was running at my half marathon effort, which would explain why I was feeling so good. There was a water stop right at mile 1, and since I hadn’t brought my own water, I grabbed a cup and tried (mostly unsuccessfully) to drink while running.
Mile 2: 10:08
Tougher. Definitely tougher. But still doable. At this point we were on the trail. When I felt my stomach start to get upset and my breathing start to get very labored, I tried to push all thoughts out of my head except one: Stick with Laura. Just stick with Laura. I did. My effort according to my heart rate data was about 10K pace.
Mile 3: 10:17
Time to unleash the speed! I knew I wasn’t running at max and that I could speed up. So I did, passing Laura. That lasted for all of maybe one minute, before my body said, What’s this now? Aw, hell no! And my body responded by doing everything it could to slow me down. I was struggling to breath, struggling to move. I wanted desperately to stop. Not walk, just stop. At about the last half mile, Laura passed me. Could I have dug in, stayed with her? It’s easy to think I could have and should have now that the race is over. I just had a half-mile to go–why didn’t I try harder to stay with her? But you know how it is being in the moment, when your body is screaming at you to stop, and it seems like it’s all you can do just to keep going, let alone go faster. My effort according to my heart rate data was in my max zone, which is where it should be for a 5K.
My pace chart from my Garmin clearly shows my big surge in speed followed by my big slow-down at the beginning of the last mile. Looking at the chart, I realize that if I hadn’t tried to speed up so much (a 7:32 pace?!), I might not have slowed down as much (down to an 11:06 pace) and thus might have had a better chance at a more consistent, faster pace in that last mile.
My Garmin recorded 3.2 miles for this race, and I was able to push a bit for the last sprint to the finish line.
My stats according to my Garmin were 32:07 for 10:02 pace. Official stats were 32:05 for 10:21 pace.
After the Race
There was a lot of food, including ice cream and Eat N Park smiley cookies, but I only had a small piece of banana. I was pretty happy with my effort when I saw my Garmin stats. I knew a 10:00 pace would be a struggle, and I was happy to come so close. Of course I deflated when I saw my official 10:21 pace. I ran the 10K last year at a 10:25 pace–so I could run twice as long last year at just about the same pace. Sigh. Still, for it being so hot and humid, and for me not really doing any speedwork or preparing for this race, I’m not unhappy with how I did.
I saw Darcey, who did awesome and ran much faster than she thought she would. She was kicking herself for not wearing her timing chip since she finished in about 34 minutes when she initially thought she would finish in about 45 minutes. I was really happy for her! In the more than 25 years I’ve been friends with Darcey, this was our first race together, and her just being there made it a lot more fun for me. Her boyfriend also did awesome, finishing in something like 23 minutes and placing 8th in his age group.
|Happy after the race is over!|
I also saw Kim and Mike after the race. We all agreed that the weather was not on our side that morning.
|Kim, me, and Mike after the race|
Race Organization and Swag
This race is very well organized with great communication and great volunteers. I love that they had so many pacers, and Laura was a fantastic pacer. She made sure everyone knew when a water station was coming up, told us when we were halfway done, and in general was very encouraging. There are no medals, and the race tee is just a cotton one. But overall I think this is a really great race on a flat course. I would do it again!
- Not doing speedwork at faster paces this year has really hurt my speed. I did mile repeats and half-mile repeats as part of my half marathon training plan, but they were all at slower paces (9:50-10:10). I need to think about my speedwork for my next training cycle.
- I need to get comfortable being uncomfortable. My downfall in this race was mental. If I had enough energy to push for the last .2 miles, I had enough energy to push the last half mile. Instead, I let my body convince me I didn’t, and I slowed down. I need to get out of my comfort zone more often and learn to push when my body tells me to stop.
- Race-specific training helps. I trained for last year’s 10K for 10 weeks. Yes, it was cool on race morning, but I’m sure 10K training helped me run a good race last year. I would like to figure out a way to train for a shorter distance–a 5K or 10K–instead of just half marathons.
- I need to work on maintaining a consistent pace. This is something I’ve always struggled with, but seeing the pace chart from this race showed me just how much I need to improve.
Overall, I enjoyed this race because I got to see friends. With the hot and humid temps and not really preparing for this race, I did about as I expected–just okay. But I’m okay with that. The other good thing about this race is that it gives me a good gauge of my 5K pace on a hot and humid day, which is an interesting data point.