I remember a time when the 10k was my most dreaded racing distance. I ran two of them my senior year of high school and vowed never again! I knew nothing about 10k pacing and my strategy was basically to go out like I was running a 5k and hold on. Obviously this is a terrible race plan and makes for a pretty miserable last few miles. In college during track season I avoided the 10k and would gladly volunteer to run the 3 or 5k. In my 20’s if I ever ran a road race that had a 5 and 10k option I would always pick the 5k. Why run longer when you didn’t have to?
When I turned 30 I decided to give the 10k another try and I realized it wasn’t so bad if it was paced like a 10k not a 5k. Imagine that! Over the years my time went from a 41 minutes on down. The first time I broke 40 minutes I was really happy because that had been a goal I didn’t think would ever happen. In 2013 I broke 39 minutes and I thought sub 38 would be next. This proved to be harder than I thought. I spent much of 2014 dealing with or recovering from plantar fasciitis. This carried over into 2015 and it took me much longer to get back to my pre-injury fitness level.
I really wanted to 2016 to be the year I set a 10k PR. I would be turning 38 at the end of November and I thought it would be a good goal to try to do it before then. I’ve actually run three 10ks in 2016. The first was in April at Capital City Classic 10k. Typically I love this race but this year it fell 4 weeks after the Little Rock Marathon and I was getting over being sick and was actually on antibiotics. Not a good combination and I had a rough race. (39:08) In August I ran in a last minute 10k- Hot Pepper Nights in Jonesboro. This race was only 3 weeks after the San Francisco Marathon. I had no intention of setting a PR on that hilly course in 90 degree weather. (40:39) Maybe one of these years I’ll break 40 minutes there…
This brings me to my final 10k of 2016- the Breakaway 10k. I’ve run this race the past 3 years but we redesigned the course to accommodate more runners. This was the first year it was on the Arkansas Grand Prix Series schedule. I’ve probably run the course 50+ times and knew every turn, incline, and downhill. I knew if I was going to PR this would be the race. The course was flat, the weather would be good, and I would not be recovering from a recent marathon.
A couple months ago I told my coach that I had two big goal races for the fall- the Breakaway 10k (November) and the 3 Bridges Marathon (December). All of my other races were more or less workouts or untapered races. I really wanted to be ready for this 10k! Every time I ran the course it measured long 6.26-6.29 so I knew I needed to be prepared to run sub 6:05 average or it wouldn’t happen. My coach wanted me to run the first two miles more conservative (6:05-6:10) and then run the last 4 in 6:00-6:05.
My warm-up was a little different than usual. I ran two different volunteers to their stations and one was by the mile 1 marker. My older two children were also running the race and my mother-in-law and John were volunteering somewhere else along the course.
I was running this race to PR but I was also running it as an assistant race director. I wanted to see what areas we could improve on for next year and experience it as one of our participants. Every time I saw a volunteer or police officer I waved and thanked them. I was genuinely glad they were out there because volunteers are hard to find! I wanted everyone to stay safe and not get lost. In preparing for the race I actually ran the course with our local elite runner a few times to make sure he knew the course well since he would be the lead runner. I focused on one section at a time and it was very easy to break this course into sections since I knew it so well!
Mile 1- 6:07. Right on track. I wanted this to be my slowest mile of the race but could I really run 5 more miles faster than this?
Mile 2- 6:04. This was a little faster than I thought it would be. This mile has the most incline and I was glad once I made it past the mile 2 marker and started heading back downtown.
Mile 3- 6:01. This mile has a nice descent and I passed one guy half way through this mile.
5k- 18:50-ish. I just glanced down at my watch around the 5k marker and knew I was cutting it close. Basically I HAD to negative split if I was going to make it because I knew I’d be running longer than 6.2 on my watch. I reminded myself that the second half would be easier and I could do one more sub 19 5k.
Mile 4- 6:00. I was in the zone and motivated to pick up the pace. I saw my mother-in-law at her volunteer station just before the mile 4 marker and it gave me an extra boost of energy. I knew one last incline was coming just after the mile 4 marker so I was gearing up for that.
Mile 5- 6:02. This mile was a little tougher than I’d anticipated. It had the slight incline at the beginning and then about a half mile was against the wind. I reminded myself I just had to make it to the trail and I could turn right. I just had to keep pushing the pace.
Mile 6- 6:02. I was hoping for a sub 6 but this was the best I had in me. Up until this point I still wasn’t sure if I would make it under. when I entered the track I knew I had 300m to sprint towards the finish. I had about one minute on my watch to make it happen so I was trying to do the math in my head. I needed to be around a 5:40 pace or faster! I sprinted as fast as I could and when I rounded the final turn I saw the clock and knew I could do it. I made it in with 9 seconds to spare!
Mile 6.27- 5:42 pace avg.
Official Time- 37:51. (1st female) SUB 38!!!
The kids did great and they each ran their fastest 10k! I’m so proud of them!
After everyone finished I helped with the awards ceremony. This was my first time to be on this end of it and I really enjoyed it!
Overall the entire race went well. There are definitely some things we can improve upon for next year but most all of the comments I heard were very positive and everyone seemed to like the course.
Huge thanks to my coach for providing me with the guidance and strategies to run to my potential. I am also very thankful for J who knew I could do it and endured months of listening to me talk about this race. He also helped me in the early stages of designing the course. Then there’s my poor running friends who I dragged on countless runs to go over the course. Thanks for putting up with me!!
Marathon training continues- 4.5 weeks until 3 Bridges Marathon?! And this weekend is race #19 in the Arkansas Grand Prix series in Hot Springs. Only 2 races from Iron Runner!