Sunday, September 28, 2014

Reston Perfect 10-Miler Race Report

My fastest 10-Mile race time came last year, at the Army 10-Miler.  It was crowded, but I managed to get a 1:23:xx time.  Normally, my "speed" 10-milers are done at the Cherry Blossom 10-MIler.  My record there, out of all my years running the course, is (roughly) 85 minutes and change.  Cherry Blossom is FLAT.  It is FAST.  It is also crowded, but, if you've raced enough, you can start to get better at taking tangents.

This race has a much tougher course profile.  It is hilly. It narrows in places. But, it's not crowded, as 10 miler finishers accounted for only about 550 people.

Reston Perfect 10 Miler course elevation

I arrived fairly ridiculously early, got a parking spot at South Lakes High School, and walked over in the cold to get my bib and shirt.  After relaxing in my car and doing the of-course-necessary last second port-a-potty visit, I made my way over to the start line, which looked more like a bunch of people milling about.  I --kind of-- saw where the start line was, and I --kind of-- saw a sign saying "8-9 minute pace," but I just kind of . . . stood.  There we 10K runners who were going to start with us, and then peel off just prior to the 10K mark as we did the course.

Oh, the course.  It's a strange form of concentric circles, first moving outwards, and then back.  I wish I'd paid more attention to the finish, however.  Because there should have been a sign at mile 9.7 saying "HAHA MIND FUK LOL OWNED" (but I'll get to that).

There was no real sound at the start.  Everyone was standing around, and then people just started running.  I really hoped someone had turned on the timer.

Bang!  Off we . . . went?

GO . . . ?
Note:  I'm only doing half splits for this race, because my two halves were fairly steady.

Miles 0-5:

43 minutes.  The hills forced me into wild pace swings, which I tried my best to keep steady.  Meanwhile, if I was struggling to stay steady, a lot of folks were NOT.  They would hit the downhills and run like they were . . . well . . .

I had at LEAST couple of people, I'd say at least 3-4, who I'd watch fly past me on the downhills, and then, sure enough, as we hit each uphill, they were almost trudging/walking or at least significantly slowed (depending on where we were in the race).  I saw them enough times that I'd say to myself, "Yup, it's him/her again," and would at least assure myself that as long as we kept seeing each other, it wasn't like I was in anybody's dust.

Miles 5-10:

Just under 42 minutes and a half minutes, so once again I'd managed some negative splits.  As we got closer to the finish, I picked up speed.  I actually started to, you know, run DOWN the hills, instead of holding myself back.

Probably what I looked like at the time.
I didn't see any of the usual passers again . . . until after I was done, and I watched them finish.  I was finishing up this race in a damn good mood.  I didn't smell a PR, but I could tell things were going well.

I once ran a race THIS BIG!

But then things turned slightly annoying.  Not a lot.  But enough.

Look, while I'm proud of the negative split, it would have been a bigger difference in times had I not been utterly crestfallen towards the end.  This is because, just as you approach the finish, you turn AWAY from the track (you finish actually on the High School's track).

Um, wait.  No -- hello?  The finish line is RIGHT THE HELL OVER THERE.  RIGHT THERE.

Nope.  Not time yet.

Instead, we're going to run down, ALMOST to the school property's exit point, and then turn AROUND and run back to the finish.  So yeah, a little out/back in your last point 3 tenths of a mile.

Basically said this for the entire last quarter mile or so.
All my speed from the last mile (which was about 8 flat-ish) was gone.  I'd moved into trudge mode myself.  But, I'd finished. My Garmin time looked familiar to me.  VERY familiar.  It turns out I'd run this race in a little under 85 and a half minutes.  In fact, I'd run it ONE SECOND faster than my best Cherry Blossom time.  This course was now my second fastest 10-mile time ever.  My PR was minutes faster, but . . . wow.  On a hilly course, with a suspect groin and zero motivation, I'd cranked out a time that made me almost feel happy about waking up at 5am.  Did I mention the course was difficult?  Oh.

Race by the numbers:
Overall:  Top 26%
Men:  Top 41%
AG:  Top 44%

This was about what I'm used to seeing, results-wise.  I'm usually in the top quarter of a lot of races, and in the top third or so for everything else.  It skewed slower for this race, but it's also skewed higher in others, so within the margin I'm familiar.  No biggie.  I was trying to test out myself, and to see if I could hold something for more than a short distance.  It was a nice race, and I was glad I got out there.  I have to give Potomac River Running lots of credit -- they run a tight, well-oiled ship when it comes to races, compared to one organization/race I won't mention.  Hmm, actually, I will.  

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