After dealing with a knee problem all winter 2010-2011, I started running again last spring and raced (for the first time in months) the University City Memorial Day 5K. It was a good race, and it was the start of a year-long (and counting) progression to my current peak fitness. In the year since then I've raced 23 times, with 2 wins and 11 finishes in 4th place overall or higher. It's been a good year.
I was looking forward to this race again this year. Then a few days before I thought to myself, wait, isn't there also a 10K? I've already run two 5K PRs this year, but I've really been training for longer races, and I haven't even attempted a 10K race for the past 9 years. 10K it is.
Just like last year I knew it was going to be hot. Then there was the problem that I really didn't know how fast to run (not having raced this distance in so long). I fell back to my old formula of adding 30 seconds per mile when doubling the distance. Since my last 5K was 5:28 pace, I figured I would shoot for 5:58 pace for the 10K.
The 1400 runners in the combined 5K and 10K all started at the same time, though we were on different sides of the street, so we remained somewhat separated before the two courses split apart roughly 1 mile into the run. One 10K runner shot out in front of everybody. Another 10K runner was up at the front of the 5K lead pack. One other 10K runner and I were together in the next pack of 5K runners. I stayed in 3rd almost the entire race, with this guy on my shoulder the whole time. One of my goals was to run a relatively even pace (something which I still couldn't manage to do in a 5K). With this guy on my shoulder the whole race, pushing me harder and harder, we were able to do just that.
The guy out-kicked me rather handily at the end (he was 11 years younger), so I finished 4th overall out of 447 finishers in 37:16 (the course was a bit long). This was my 12th top-4 finish in my past 24 races (I like those odds). My splits were 5:54, 5:53, 5:59, 6:02, 6:00, 5:51, and change. I hit my 5:58 pace estimate exactly. There was only 11 seconds difference between the fastest and slowest miles (a difference I typically can't match in shorter races), and the final mile was actually the fastest (which is also extremely rare for me). The 85˚F heat was pretty tough. The only other time I've ever managed to run this fast in that kind of heat was the Trifesta triathlon I raced two days prior, where I averaged the same 5:58 pace for the 5K run (after a fast bike and swim).
This was my 3rd 10K ever, and while it was my fastest in 15 years, it was not a PR. I ran a 10K my freshman year of college in something like 33 minutes. I don't remember the exact time, and the results aren't online anywhere, so I'll probably never know. I certainly won't ever run that fast again.
Melissa and I "cooled" down in style by taking the long way home with a 5 mile jaunt through Forest Park. The day prior we both registered for the Howl at the Moon 8-hour Ultra in August. Bring on the heat.