Striders 10-miler. Dee Events Center (again). Weather was overcast with an occasional ray of sun. Light breeze, enough to be noticeable as a headwind at times, and cool temperatures, in the lower 40s. Pretty good racing conditions, and just warm enough to go with the singlet and shorts (and gloves).
My goal today was to back off a little at the beginning and then race very hard the last half. This would ensure a quality workout, a good overall finish, and faster recovery. I also wanted revenge on that last hill of the race from the 10K, and going out a little slower would help that cause.
The field was good, but a little less dense that the 5k and 10k. I think people are a little tired of racing every other week, and are tired of painfully difficult courses. Plus, 10 miles is not a popular distance. I suspect that those not committed to the entire series just stayed home.
Right at the gun, Joe jumped out to a lead, and no one bothered going with him. I soon found myself running with Bob, and by the end of the first mile, we had separated from the rest of the pack. Joe was already was out ahead by that point. I did not intend to get out this fast relative to the pack, but I had someone to run with and the pace felt good, about MP. However, the first couple miles were downhill, and although it felt very easy, I was a little worried about coming back up them the other way and wondered if I should have stayed back with the others. But for now things were good, and working in with Bob was helping. First two-mile split was 10:55 (missed the 1-mile mark), 3rd mile was 5:53 (long?), 4th "mile" was 4:19 (short; apparently the race cut off a block).
Things got hard around Mile 5, where the course climbed a bit more steeply before it went back down toward the Ice Sheet. Bob dropped me temporarily here, and I went a little bit anaerobic up the hill. This made me uneasy, since there was still over four miles and a really big hill left. But I recovered on the downhill and caught back up to Bob right before we started the "real" climb during Mile 7. Joe, meanwhile, was somewhere out there still, a distant speck. He looked strong, but seemed to have stopped pulling away at least. Mile 5 was 5:43, Mile 6 was 6:17.
Bob and I worked up the big hill (which I've nicknamed "Stairway to Hell"), and again, Bob pulled away toward the crest. But I was still feeling okay and knew that I would be basically home free at the top. I crested the hill and started hammering back down, made up lost ground on Bob, and caught him before Mile 8. We then started working together to try to catch Joe, who seemed to finally be coming back a little. I started to struggle a little, and Bob took over and blocked the headwind for me, and also started surging pretty hard. I was able to work in with him and stay tucked in. But unfortunately Bob's calf went out right before 9 miles, so I went on solo. It was really too bad, because I was just starting to remember how to work with a teammate again. Two people working together can always pull more load than the summation of two individuals working by themselves. Basic rule of pack running, and something I haven't done much since college. It gives me hope for marathon pack running with teammates though. Mile 7 was 6:26, Mile 8 was 5:01, Mile 9 was 5:16.
Regardless, I was feeling good enough with a mile to go to make a good charge up that final hill (a big goal for me) and then have a very good kick during the last 800 meters. I still finished about 25 seconds behind Joe, so some ground was gained, but he ran a very strong, complete race. Final time was 55:20. Last mile was 5:28. Final results are here.
All in all, I was quite happy with this race. It was definitely better than the 10K, and maybe a bit better than the 5K. I still struggled on some of the uphills, but I think there was some improvement, and I seemed to be able to recover and surge well on the downhills. Looking back at the splits, perhaps my uphills were a little better than I originally assessed, but I can only gauge at the time by how I feel (hurting a lot) and by the competition around me (Bob and Joe). So maybe I'm an okay uphill runner, but Bob and Joe are just really good at it, I don't know.
Talking to people with Garmins and to Bill, we generally agreed that the course that was run today was a little short, probably about 0.12 miles, which is exactly one block. Bill said that a block was cut off from the certified course, so there you have it. Regardless, even with adding a minute or so, I'm still very pleased with my time, as I didn't expect to run much under 58:00. The course was pretty fun, and seemed to allow more recovery than the 10K course. It's no wonder that times were relatively faster.
(Burn: 66 miles)