Before the race today, there was a kid's one-mile run. It was cute - there were a bunch of small children lined up at the starting line looking deadly serious about the endeavor. The race began and every kid came flying out of the gate at an absolute sprint. I laughed at the naivety of these children. "They will never be able to sustain that for the entire mile," I thought, "It's all about pacing!" Children!
Thoughts that would come back to haunt me.
This morning Sarah and I made the short drive to San Juan Bautista to run in the Mission 10 Race. I was planning on doing the 10-mile run, and Sarah was planning on doing the 5k. I picked this race because I thought it would be a good training run for the Modesto Half Marathon. It's (mostly) flat and rural, which is just about the right profile. And it's at a mission, and I think missions are pretty cool because I am a huge nerd. My goal for the run was 1:40, which would have put me at 10:00 mile pace, the pace that I'm shooting for in Modesto.
After a lot of waiting (the race started at 10:00 a.m., for some reason), the (figurative) gun went off and the race began. Right out of the gate I felt fantastic. As the pack settled in, I found Dave, a man who was running at my cruising speed, and latched on like a remora. I crossed the first two mile markers in under 9 minutes per mile, and by the time I got to the third mile marker, I was under 27 minutes. For some comparison as to how fast this is for me, my 5k PR is 30:03; had I have decided to run the 5k, I would have obliterated my personal best. I was starting to tire a little at this point, but I still felt pretty good. The course was entirely flat on rural roads with the hills off in the distance, and I was able to settle into a trance-like zone.
As I started on mile four, I started having a little internal battle. The smart part of me said "Gee Matt, this is pretty darn quick for you. This is going to come back and bite you in the ass." However, the adrenaline-buzzed other half of me advised that I just keep pushing - common sense be damned!
We all know what happened, right?
Just before the four-mile marker came the hills. When I said that the course was mostly flat, I meant that it's entirely flat except for the hills between miles 3.5 and 7. It's only 210 feet of gain, which isn't overwhelming or anything. However, because I'd been running much faster than I should have been, the hills hit me like a ton of bricks. I immediately dropped to a walk as every part of me, especially my lungs, cried out in protest. My pace slowed to the high 10:00 area. It got ridiculously warm and I started to worry that I hadn't drank enough water. I got passed by a bunch of people I had passed earlier. It was demoralizing.
This went on until just past the mile five marker, when we we turned around and headed back down. At this point I was able to make up some of my lost time on the downhill and settle back into somewhat of a comfortable 9:30 pace. However, just after the mile seven marker, the land got flat again and my body just lost the will to push.
The last three miles were a painful blur. I ran/walked them while trying to keep up the best pace that I could. Because I had gone out so far ahead of my pace, I thought there was a chance that I could absorb a slower pace and still meet my goal. I started out positive, but as we got closer it became obvious that probably wouldn't happen.
I'm going to chalk this race up as a learning experience.
On the plus side, Sarah did the 5k and did a little better than she was expecting. So proud of her!
Some more photos: