|The DART crew post-race|
We had enough time for a quick warm-up, and the first thing we discovered is that the start of the race isn't exactly downhill, as I had thought in Thursday's strategy post. To the contrary, it was the steepest uphill segment on the course. Here's how my Garmin profile compares to profile I'd planned for (the course repeats the same 5K loop):
|Above: my planned profile; Below: The actual profile|
As we lined up for the start, there was another surprise -- pace teams! I'd never seen a pace team at a 10K before, but given the fact that there was a 7-minute pace team, I figured I'd join up. After a "ready-set-go," we took off, up that tough little hill. My hopes for a 6:40 first mile were dashed almost instantly. Instead, I struggled to a 6:58. Mile 2 was mostly uphill, but there were some small bits of relief, and I ran it in 7:01. I knew Mile 3 would start with a downhill section but end with a long uphill, so I just hoped to hang on until I could make it to mostly-downhill Mile 4. I passed a couple people heading up the hill, but as I neared the crest, one woman passed me back. She was a 5K racer, and sprinted to the finish while I headed back up the steep hill we had started on.
My time for Mile 3 was 7:06, but I was tiring fast, and as before, I hadn't really counted on the steep uphill start to Mile 4. At this point I had dropped the 7-minute pace team -- I guess they couldn't quite handle an actual 7-minute pace! There was no one in sight ahead of me; I knew there were at least three runners in front, but I also knew there was no chance of me catching them. The new goal was to avoid being caught! When I finally reached the downhill section of Mile 4, I knew there was no chance of making up time; I just had to hang on. Mile 4 split: 7:11. I still had some gas in the tank, but I wasn't sure I could hang on until the finish without slowing more. During Mile 5, I spotted the two race leaders, who turned out to be Jason Holder and Aaron Linz, guys I had seen at races and on Facebook but didn't really know. They had already finished the "lollipop" loop at the end of the course and were heading back on their final mile, looking strong. I pushed onward, finishing Mile 5 in 7:19.
One mile to go, all I needed to do was hang on. Mile 6 starts with a downhill, and I tried to cruise as fast as possible while still taking a bit of a breather. Now there was just .7 miles, uphill, to the finish. I pushed as hard as I could, around a corner beyond which I hoped to see the finish line. The hill just kept going up. I slowed a bit, then reminded myself that there was surely less than a half mile to go. I pressed on harder. The last little bit of the course was a slight downhill, and I tried to pick up the pace even more as I raced to the finish line. I was disappointed that I wouldn't make my goal, but I knew I had run a solid, hard race.
Then, surprisingly, I saw the timer at the finish register just 43:00, less than 100 meters away. It ticked 43:17 as I crossed the line! Somehow I had run sub-seven-minute miles even though my only sub-seven-minute split was a 6:58. It took a few moments for me to remember to stop my GPS, and it had only recorded 6.07 miles, not 6.21-mile 10K. So the course was probably a little short. Still, Garmin recorded my average pace as a 7:09, which would still be a PR for the 10K distance.
The official results are here. I got credit for a 6:59 pace, and finished in fifth overall out of 62 participants. Tim ran a great race and finished third, while Terry placed first in his age group and Mark was third in his group (I was first in the same group). A great day for DART!
I actually got a $25 gift certificate for the age group win, so this race was effectively free for me (assuming I make my way down to Charlotte to cash in my prize). Not bad for a morning's work!
This was a well-run race with good timing and excellent support on the course -- there was never any question which way to run. The only thing I'd suggest to make it better would be to place mile markers on the course and make sure it's a legitimate 10K distance. And maybe smooth out some of those hills!
The details of today's race are below: