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George Washington Birthday Classic 10k - Run10k

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Alexandria, Virginia
United States
Pacers Events
38F / 3C
Total Time = 37m 24s
Overall Rank = 20/602
Age Group = M40-49
Age Group Rank = 2/67
Pre-race routine:

Well, that was a strange way of running my fastest 10k since the 1980s. At 6k when I was stopped by the side of the road, stretching against a tree, I thought I would be walking it in.

I decided to do this race just a couple of days ago, inspired by Trishie's post on the MD BT forum. I've had a good few weeks of training without injury, and haven't raced since I started doing weekly speed work, so I thought it might be good to do a race as a way of better gauging my pace for upcoming races. I didn't have time to do a taper for the race, just a couple of days of easier running.
Event warmup:

Easy drive across DC to Alexandria. Race HQ was in the spacious foyer of the US Patent and Trademark Office. A nice place to stay warm before/after a winter race. Met up with Trishie an her fanclub (one of whom was looking a little bemused in his bright yellow Ironman stroller - who knew that they made such things). Warm-up felt good. I planned to set out at 6:00/mile pace and see what happened. The route was a very simple out-and-back along one road. I was wearing my new running shoes that I had first used a couple of days ago. That might not have been such a good choice.
  • 37m 24s
  • 6.21 miles
  • 06m 01s  min/mile

Mile #1 (5:40): I set out at what I thought was a comfortable clip. I thought I was holding back, and was worried that I was going to be behind my pace target. Er, not exactly. Quite surprised that it felt so comfortable to do that pace.

Mile #2 (6:01): Now I was a bit worried. Was this going to exceed all expectations, or was I going to crash and burn badly. I was running alongside the leading woman (usually a good move, as the fastest women tend to pace quite well), and all felt fine, except that my companion seemed to be pushing me towards the right of the road all the time. No worries.

Mile #3 (6:05): Concerns about running out of steam soon subsided when I felt a surprising tightness in my right calf, as if I was about to cramp. And it got worse. And worse. As the 3 mile mark approached and we headed up a small incline towards the turn-around I knew that I was in trouble. I felt full of energy, but it was difficult to run, and I had to drop the pace back substantially.

Mile #4 (6:53): And it just got worse. I felt like I was hobbling more than running, and I had to stop a couple of times to stretch. That didn't really seem to help. People were streaming past me, and I thought it was going to be an unseemly finish to what had seemed like a good idea at first. I passed Trishie running in the other direction. She seemed to be going well, certainly far better than I felt at that point. I was sure that she'd be catching me by the end, if I even made it to the end.

Mile #5 (5:52): After the 4-mile marker I decided that I'd just try to keep running, and see if I could make it to the end, despite the pain in my right calf. I seemed to be able to keep going, and was actually able to pick up the pace a little. I started gaining on some of the folks who had passed me earlier. I thought that perhaps I might still manage to crack 40 minutes if things went well, but was shocked to see that I passed 5 miles in only 30:31. It hadn't occurred to me that I might get back under 6:00 pace. Perhaps now I might even come close to 38 minutes. I felt good, thanks to the "recovery interval" in mile 4.

Mile #6 (5:40): Now I was going for it, trying to make up ground on more people in the last mile. The leg was still an annoyance, but I was more confident that I'd actually make it to the finish. I felt fairly good on the climb about half a mile from the finish.

Finish (37:23). But I had no idea that I had gained so much time that I got back to very close to my 6:00 target, with a 6:01 average. I would have been happy with that time at the start of the day, as it was my fastest 10k since around 1989. But I couldn't help feeling that I left a chunk of time out there on the course.
What would you do differently?:

I'm not sure what would have prevented the cramp that hit me 4k into the race.
Post race
Warm down:

Tried to jog around a little to loosen up the leg. It didn't help much. Cheered Trishie in - she had beaten her target by almost a minute. And then I found that I was 2nd in the 40-49 AGs, so got to hang around for a few minutes for the awards. Not a bad morning's work for Team BT. Strange to have that outcome, after I had been worried that I would be limping through the last 3 miles.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Cramp in right calf. Not sure where that came from. I used to have problems like that when I was fat and out of shape, and when I was restarting running. But not in a long while. Was it the new shoes (identical model to before, same insoles, so not much change)? Or was it the concrete road surface? Or the cold morning in shorts? Or the in-between pace (my intervals have been faster, my steady runs much slower)? No idea, really.

Event comments:

Overall, a nice low-key race in Alexandria, a place that I'm happy to have excuses to visit. Generally good organization, and the course couldn't be much simpler. Only gripe was the woeful supply of restrooms.

I may get flamed for this, but I appreciated that this race got down to business at the start, without the usual messing around with the national anthem.

Last updated: 2012-02-18 12:00 AM
00:37:24 | 06.21 miles | 06m 01s  min/mile
Age Group: 2/67
Overall: 20/602
Performance: Good
Mile 1: 5:40 Mile 2: 6:01 Mile 3: 6:05 Mile 4: 6:53 Mile 5: 5:52 Mile 6: 5:40
Course: Simple out-and-back, in an almost straight line. Almost entirely flat, except for a gentle 70' rise to the turn-around, and a short climb to an overpass close to the start and finish.
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
Physical exertion [1-5] 3
Good race? Ok
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2012-02-18 3:12 PM

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University Park, MD
Subject: George Washington Birthday Classic 10k

2012-02-19 8:54 PM
in reply to: #4054664

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Crab Cake City
Subject: RE: George Washington Birthday Classic 10k

Great job Colin! sounds like you had an excellent race and way to represent MD BTer's.

2012-02-26 5:06 PM
in reply to: #4054664

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Columbia, South Carolina
Subject: RE: George Washington Birthday Classic 10k
Nice job recovering from the cramp and not panicking.  Solid times!
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