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Apr13

Race Report: Run the Valley 10k

My race season was kicked off with the “Run the Valley 10k” in Golden Valley, MN on Saturday.

2nd Overall, 36:38

When I signed up for this race I had high hopes for a cool spring morning race, not a snowy and cold November-like event.  So I was less than thrilled with the conditions that I and the rest of the racers were presented with on Saturday.  But I learned many years ago that the conditions are the same for everyone and the sooner you come to terms with them the more successful you’ll be in performing to the best of your abilities.

Start

As I stepped up to the starting line I really had no idea what kind of competition I would have.  In looking at the results from the previous years they were not all that impressive but every year is different.  As the horn went off there were 5 or 6 guys including myself that took the lead.  For the first quarter-mile no one seemed interested in attacking and the pace was right where I was wanting it to be so I felt good about my prospects for a good finish.  Approximately a half mile into the race one of the guys in the lead pack challenged for the lead and we all let him go.

Mile 1

The first mile spilt on my watch read 5:47 which was pretty close to being  where I wanted it to be.  My goal  for the race was to average 5:45 splits. With the intent to start the race on the conservative side, this was perfect.  Given a successful first mile I tried to continue with that same effort going into the second.  At this point, from what I could tell, the race had thinned out to the lone leader and me leading a small pack of 2 or 3 other runners.

Mile 2

At the second mile the split came up as 5:58.  RATS!!  That was not where I wanted that one to be.  I knew I shouldn’t panic, but I wanted to get the pace back up to where I wanted.  I tried to keep the effort smooth and let the one runner that was still on my shoulder push me to get back to the pace I had planned on.

Mile 3

Mile 3 came up with a 5:36.  Aww Crap!  I pulled back the time I lost in the second mile but now I was concerned about spending a bit too much energy and the consequences that it might have later in the race.  Fortunately, though, I was able to open up a bit of a lead on third place which was comforting.  Also, it was time to go to work in the second half of the race.

Mile 4

I was excited to see the split for the 4th mile,  but when it came up as 5:53, I came to the realization that I was not likely to hit the pace goal I had in mind.  I was disappointed with that at the time but I had to quickly shake it off and stay focused to make the best of things.  My legs were starting to fight for my attention at this point but the internal argument in my head was telling them to shut up.

Mile 5

The fifth mile, I knew from having driven the course, was a straight flat section that starts with a slight decline.  This bit of knowledge gave me high hopes that I my be able to get after the pace a bit.  Unfortunately it came up as a 5:55.  At this point I was really having to cheer myself on to keep up the intensity.  Fortunately, my lead over third place seemed to be holding and I was determined to hold him off.

Mile 6

At the end of the sixth mile I was deep in the pain cave and had no desire to see what my split was, which happened to be 5:59.  The only thing I was interested in at this point was seeing the 5k 3 mile marker signifying a 10th of a mile to go and the and the finish line.

Finish

At the finish I was spent and happy to have hung on to 2nd place.  Seeing a finish time of 36:38 was a bit disappointing at first though.  I really thought I had a shot at an even better time than that.

Overview

I had two rough goals for this race as I discussed in my race preview post on Friday.  The first being to set an open 10k PR and the second being to execute a well paced race.

On the first goal I ended up being quite successful.  My previous open 10k was at the Running Opener in St. Paul, MN last year at this time with a time of 37:18.  The conditions of that race were much better than the cold, windy, and wet ones I experienced yesterday.  So to have a 40 second PR really is quite an improvement and one I have to be proud of.

At first glance I was dissapointed with myself as far as the second goal of having a well paced race .  Not only did I not hit the pace of 5:45 that I wanted, I originally thought my splits were all over the place during the race.  The beauty however of competing with a Garmin, or other GPS enabled watch to record your data, is the ability to review it later.  As I got a chance to evaluate the race later that day, I realized that overall I did execute the pacing fairly well.  No, I didn’t hit the pace I wanted to but as a whole the splits were pretty even, which has always been a struggle for me.  It seems however that the base run volume that I’ve done in the off-season has gone a long way to training my governor.

In the end, this race has served as a good run fitness check and motivator as I head into the Multisport season.  Now if we can get a spring I’d really get excited for things to come.  If you’re interested in the geeky details of how the race went down feel free to check out the data on Garmin Connect at the following link: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/297428374.

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