Saturday, April 14, 2007

Race Report: United Way 10K

ORN: 10.1 miles total; 10km, 55:35, R5/W:30, 8:57/mile

I’ve been very fortunate this year to have several low-cost local races pop up at just the right time to let me test my revamped approach to running. Today was the third installment.

My next goal race is to go under 2 hours at the
Sunburst half marathon on June 2. To do this, I need to knock off 13.1 miles at a 9:08 pace. How will I do this with the run/walk??? Today was a test.

United Way 10K race took place this morning on the Purdue campus, just three miles from my house. As a world-class research institution, it seemed appropriate to do an experiement. I didn’t have to write a grant application though. I ponied up a mere $12, and ran the experiment; can I run at a 9:08 pace with a run 5/ walk 30 seconds pattern over 10km? How would I know how fast to run to compensate for the walking? Could I get the feel? How would I feel getting passed during the walk phase?

The day dawned grey and cold. With temps around 41, leaden skies and a stiff 20mph NE wind, it was hardly a sparking, inspiring spring day. I got to the start area about 90 minutes before the race time, got my bib and took off to do a 4 mile warm up. I wanted 10 miles for the day anyway and it proved useful to get everything loose on such a chilly day. The race itself went off on time and I got my answers. The course itself was very familiar…I’ve run every inch of it for years, as it is often at the opposite end of my normal route for runs over 13 miles.

My mile-times were 8:50, 8:57, 8:56, 9:41, 9:02, 8:47. Mile four was slow due to a long uphill climb and a loss of attention on my part. The loss of attention was quite instructive. I was pleased I caught it and cranked it up further. I wanted my last mile to be the fastest. Since the course had that mile dead into the wind, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was the case. I discovered that running at a pace of around 8:40 on the Garmin during the run phases was quite adequate. The mile splits were on my watch, not the Garmin, so I have some confidence that they were accurate.

I was very strict on the 5/:30 breakdowns. When the timer went off, I walked or ran. I was surprised, very surprised, at how invigorated I felt after merely 30 seconds of walking. It would not seem to be that way but it sure was. I also found that I fairly quickly got the feel for just what my turnover needed to be to keep the pace. It is this “feel for pace” I’m trying to find. Perhaps it came to me a bit today. During the first 3 miles of the race, I did see some people pass me while I was walking. In the last 3 miles, though our small field of 95 was spread out enough that I had my own space. In a bigger field, I’ll have to deal with it. I think it won’t be as big a deal as I fear it might.

I was also surprised at how well organized this small race in a small town was. The organizer had a new type of “chip timing” I had not seen. On the back of each bib was the chip, with a wire running around the perimeter of the bib. Nothing on the shoe at all. When we crossed the finish line, detectors on either side of the line picked up the crossing. I was in my car, heading home around 10:15am. Just after noon, I had an email, thanking me for participating, confirming my time and letting me know I was 52nd in the field of 95, but only 7th of 8 among men 50-54. Yeesh, on a college campus, I thought I’d be running with young kids…looks like all the profs showed up!

One funny item. For some reason, the mayors of both Lafayette and West Lafayette showed up to greet runners at the start. Why?? Who knows. Further, our local State Representative was there as well, not only to greet but she also sang the National Anthem, a capella and without accompaniment. I guess that’s what you have to do when in public office.

So, a good assessment of progress. On Feb 24, I ran a 10K race with a 3/1 split in 59:02. Nice to move that time down by 3.5 minutes in 8 weeks and have it be more enjoyable as well.



Backofpack said...

Nice experiment, nicer result! I hate getting passed during the walk phase, but find I end up leap-frogging most of the people who pass me. And often, in the last miles, I pass them for good. Have a good week!

Darrell said...

Continuous improvement! (I had to say it, sorry). This is great. Like Michelle I used to leap frog the same folks when while I ran and then they got me when I walked . We usually ended up finishing races nearly the same time. Getting to the finish line without injury makes the walk breaks worth it, I'd say. Will I get to meet the mayor?

susie said...

Wonderful! And way to regroup on the last two miles. Your plan is working well. 3.5 minute improvement? Way to go, Joe.

Wes said...

That's exciting to know that we can run walk and still come in under 9 minute miles. I can't wait to try that one out myself. My problem has been that I don't want the walk breaks early, and that's when they are absolutely necessary!!

I'm going to incorporate this strategy into my upcoming tri. I want to definitely come in under 30 minutes, but closer to my PR of 27 and a half would be nice.

Way to go, Joe! You continue to bring a fresh perspective to all of this. Thanks for sharing.

WADDLER26.2 said...

Quite an improvement! The run / walk always pays off in the end. Great race recap and analysis. You are on your way for the half.

David said...

You tempt me but I am stubborn. I presume longer harder training preps me for longer and harder race distances. So long as injury does not get in the way, I persevere in my way. A 5K is a sprint. A 10K is a lactic acid battle to the finish.
I do know that run/walkers do better me when I am not up to the muster.

Jenny, Maniac #401 said...

Way to go! How exciting to see your goal pan out. I like those smaller races as much as the big ones. Better sometimes. How cool to live so close to Purdue! Lots stuff happening all the time!

Sarah said...

Nice race! I'm really starting to prefer the low-key races. I think you'll be able to meet your goal at Sunburst, no problem!