Saturday, August 21, 2010

Woodland Wallahatchie 10K Review

Today's race was part training pace run and part redemption. Last year I ran the Wallahatchie 10K in a disappointing 53:09, and there was no way that was happening again. On the schedule today was a 7-mile run at a marathon pace of 7:30/mi., so I knew it wouldn't be a repeat.

Photo courtesy of West Marcus
My goal was to stick to my marathon pace as much as possible. The first mile was too easy and I kept trying to slow myself down, knowing the heat and humidity would sap my energy sooner than later if I wasn't careful. I glanced at my watch every 30 seconds or so trying to figure out where I needed to be, and finally worked myself down from around 7:00/mi. to a manageable 7:18/mi.

At around the 2-mile mark a few of us had settled into a pace and stuck together pretty closely. I was still running a little fast, but didn't feel like I was overexerting myself and decided to ride it out. I noticed on my right that a woman - Lynn, I later learned - was matching my cadence almost exactly, so I asked if she was pacing me. She replied that she was aiming for a 7:25/mi pace, so I figured I would stick with her as long as I could.

It turned out that Lynn wasn't any better at sticking to a plan than I was. We recorded  a 7:21/mi. average pace the first half, but at the turnaround we increased the pace. Miles 4 and 5 were both a steady 7:11/mi each. It was around the 5-mile mark that I goaded her into catching a runner ahead of us. I could feel that I was falling off and didn't want to hold her up. I still managed a 7:17/mi pace, and finished somewhere around 44:40.

I was very happy with this race. I took 3rd in my age group, 40-49, and won a coveted squirrel trophy complete with a nut! Most importantly, I erased the memory of last year's disappointment. Also, I was only about 15-20 seconds off my 10K PR, which was set last March when conditions were much nicer. Today it was 80° and 88% humidity. I'm excited to see what I can do once the cooler weather returns.

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