Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hilly 10K Victory

The 10K is my nemesis. Out of all the race distances from the 2-miler to the marathon, the 10K is the one race where my times don't line up with where they should be, fitness-wise. (Although the marathon is quickly becoming the nemesis distance-- but that's another blog.) According to the McMillan Calculator and my 5K from the spring, I should be able to run a 10K in about 46:26. I also have a recent 5-mile tempo run that averaged a pace of 7:42. I went into today's race hoping that I might finally get a 10K time that reflects my training and fitness level.

I lucked out weather-wise. Lower 60's and overcast with a drizzle is about as good as you can hope for in mid-September at 8:00am. I didn't study the course elevation profile before the race, but based on the max/min elevation from the map, I didn't think it would be too hilly. I was wrong.

This was the hilliest 10K I have ever ran, and perhaps the hilliest race of any distance.

My husband decided to sit this race out in favor of a long run yesterday. Since he's training for his first marathon, long runs are more critical to him. I felt like I could miss one this weekend, due to our training cycle being so long and already having completed two 20-milers. My father also came out to watch me.

This race, the South Fairfax Chamber Challenge, was small. There were only 108 people. It was very well organized. Chip timed, t-shirt available in my size, and high-quality running hat were included. I figured that with such a small turnout, I might be able to win an age group award, or even place in the top three overall females. I warmed up for 1.4 miles on the high school track and then lined up at the start.

Mile 1: 7:31
I went out fast and I knew it. My goal was a 7:40 pace, but the race started with a downhill, so I wanted to take advantage of that. There were no women in front of me until halfway through the first mile. Then, a woman passed me and I got the sense that I probably wouldn't be able to catch her.

Mile 2: 7:41
About 1/4 of this mile was a long, steep downhill followed by 1/4 mile of a long, steep uphill. When I got to the bottom of the downhill and looked up, I couldn't believe they were actually making us run that. I even commented to the guy next to me that this was the longest, steepest hill I have ever encountered during a race. And that includes Capitol hill. My heart rate skyrocketed at the top of the hill, and I had to run a bit slower afterwards just to recover. The turnaround point was at mile 2.5

Mile 3: 7:37
This was another hilly mile with plenty of rollers. And by this point I realized that I was going to have to repeat the whole 1/4 mile downhill, 1/4 mile uphill thing. When my Garmin showed 3.1, I looked down and saw 22:48. My second-fastest 5K ever. I was seriously hoping I wasn't going to bonk. But then I reminded myself that the bonking usually happens in hot, sunny races when I go out to fast. The weather was in my favor.

Mile 4: 7:48
Time to go back up the huge hill again, although I was mentally prepared. I was hoping I wouldn't expend all my energy on it, so I tried to run it at a steady pace that was probably somewhere around 8:45. Meanwhile, I had flown down the downhill knowing that I needed all the speed I could get on the easier parts. I would guess that my downhill pace was somewhere around 6:45. So, even though my split for mile 4 was 7:48, I don't think I ever ran that pace.

Mile 5: 7:47
This mile was still hilly, but at least the worst was over. I was just trying to hang on to my pace, I knew I'd be able to PR. I was also still the second female. The woman who passed me was still in sight, about 45 seconds ahead.

Mile 6: 7:53
This mile started off slow but I really dug deep during the second half to get it down to 7:53. I wanted a PR and I wanted it to be significant.

Last 0.2: 7:11
After the 6 mile marker, I looked at my Garmin and thought that it would be impossible to break 48:00, so I maintained my pace and headed toward the finish line (which, of course, was all uphill). But as the clock got into my sight, I realized that if I sprinted, I could get it. I mustered everything I had and sprinted to the finish, breaking 48 with a
47:55. The first part of that 0.2 was probably 7:40 paced, but according to my Garmin, I was sub-6:00 for that last bit.

1st Place in Age Group!
I was second overall female (out of 49) and first place in my age group (30-39). The winner was 27. My 47:55 is a PR by 0:59, with a pace of
7:42. I'm not all that excited about my time, because I know I could do a lot better on a flatter course, but given how hilly it was, I was very pleased. The first place female finished exactly one minute ahead of me.

I was so happy to have my husband and my father there to support me. That meant the world to me.

I went back up to the track and cooled down for another 1.4 miles, to make an even 9 for the day. Then it was time for the awards. I didn't think I was going to get anything fantastic, but was pleasantly surprised at the $100 gift card to a spa. Free massage!!!! I'm guessing that the first place male got something different.

I was really impressed with this race. For being so small, it was extremely well organized, well timed, nice prizes, an awesome goodie bag with a t-shirt and a hat, and really friendly people.


  1. Great job, Elizabeth!

    Did you mean you've done 20 2-milers or 2 20-milers? If 20 2-milers will get me to your speed, I'm all over that! ;)

    Have a great time at the spa!!

  2. Not excited about your time because it would have been better on a flatter course. Umm this wasn't a flat course so you weren't excited despite the PR?? Hmmm I need to send you a link after reading this blogpost... I may have sent it to you already but oh well I'm sending it again then... I'll mark the date of the blogpost since well it's almost 2020 when I'm getting to this... Oh God Dave why so slow to respond to Elizabeth... Took you 9 years to read this... Lazy bastard lol...