Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My first 10K!

Distance: 10K
Time: 1:06:30
Average Pace: 10:42

Although I was worried about injuring myself and not having trained for the past 4 weeks, I ran my first 10K race on Saturday. It was raining steadily, but the support staff came along as well to cheer me on. The race was being held at the local community college, and the events for the day included both a 5K and 10K. I picked up my packet and tried to stay somewhat dry under a pavilion before the race. Based on how wet I was just warming up and walking to the starting line, I knew that I'd never be able to see out of my rain-splattered glasses, so the support staff held them for me. As I wandered around in a world of blurry shapes, I hoped that the course was very well-marked so that I wouldn't end up following the 5K course or something. I should have asked, because I didn't even know if the 5 and 10K courses were different.

Because of the shin splint/possible stress fracture problems, I was not racing this 10K. I began way at the back and started off very slowly. We ran through some parking lots, out the back entrance of the college, and made a left onto the road. We had been given a map of the course in our packets, so I knew that the 10K course went a little way down this road and then doubled back. Not 30 seconds after we turned onto the road did the front-runners come flying past me after having turned around. A woman ahead of me asked a volunteer where the turnaround was and was told somewhere around mailbox number 50. That was a little odd, because we were passing mailbox 200 at that time. Those front-runners must have been running really fast.

We stopped seeing people coming back from the turnaround. Does that mean we missed it? Was I following a line of people wasting time by running down this road in the wrong direction? Was I following 5K runners instead of 10K? There weren't many other 10K runners around, but we all started talking about it. We didn't come to any conclusion, so we just kept running. When we did turn around, I should have asked the volunteer if it was both the 5K and 10K course, but I didnt. I doubled back and then headed out to another road, which was a long, steady down-hill. Of course, what goes down goes back up again in most races, so once I reached the bottom of the hill, I turned into the school drive-way and began the trek up "college hill". I took quick and light little steps and didn't have too hard a time of it. Up ahead I saw where the 5K runners branched to the right and the 10K runners continued to the left. People were shouting and waving signs, so I knew where to go. I continued on and saw that I had another hill. This one was steeper than the last. I continued with the little steps, although I can't say that they were quick or light. I almost felt as if I would be faster if I walked, as everyone around me was doing, but I kept running.

When I neared the top, I heard my support staff cheering me on. He was waiting at the very top of the hill, and it was so great to see him there. As I came by him, he started jogging with me. He told me that a lot of runners were complaining about the course not being marked well. I chatted with him about how I wasn't sure if I had run the right course or not. He ran with me through the parking lot at the top of the hill and stopped when I started down toward the back entrance, around where the race had started.

When I was on my own again, I was confident that at least this time, I was in the right place, since the volunteers were able to direct each runner. Somewhere here I noticed that I had blisters under my toes and that my right knee was starting to hurt. I stopped a few times to let the knee click and crack and kept going. At the turnaround point, someone took a picture of me, so unfortunately I may see my rain-soaked face on next-year's promotional info. A volunteer was commenting on how her poncho made her look like a penguin, and she asked me if I was tired. I said yes, even though I really wasn't. My feet just hurt. And my knee.

When I reached mile 5 I felt like cheering about how we were almost done, but there were no spectators around, and I figured that would be really dorky, so I saved my breath. I enjoyed the long downhill slope, took a sip of water at a water stop at the bottom, and then began the last leg up college hill. Like the first time, I didn't have much trouble, except my right knee started hurting very badly toward the top of the hill. It began to hurt so much that I started limping, and if the ground hadn't leveled off there, I think it might have given out. I heard my support staff cheering me on there, and I turned to make a loop around some of the college buildings before heading to the finish. I kept the pace steady, and once I began to get close I picked up the speed. I made it through the chute and there it was: I had finished my first 10K.

It turns out that the people who had passed the rest of the pack so early in the race had made a mistake and cut off almost a mile and a half of the course. Because of the mistake, no awards were given or times posted. The support staff reports that my time was 1:06:30, give or take a few seconds, so I at least have a good idea of how I did.

The most amazing thing about this race is that my shins didn't hurt at all. Not even the slightest bit! I don't understand what went right for me to feel so good during it, but I'm certainly not complaining!

I am so excited about having run my first 10K. I knew before the race began that I would have no trouble finishing the distance, but it's a good milestone. I'm already planning my next distance goal: a half-marathon next spring!

1 comment:

Chic Runner said...

YAY! I'm so glad you had such a good experience doing the 10k! And a half marathon!!! that is so exciting! Racing gets super addicting! :) Congrats!!!!