With just two weeks to go until the marathon, this served as my last race. I was looking to run a pretty hard effort to get some confidence and sharpen my racing mentality. I heard the course was fast and if the weather was good, I was hoping to average under 5:00 pace. All of the lower/sub 15:00 guys were doing the 5k (Ryan Chastain, Ryan Snellen, Ted Towse and Dan Mueller) but I didn't know who would show up for the 10k.
I saw Alex Moore in the parking lot, who was also the defending 10k champion, so we warmed up together. The temperature was pretty good but it was insanely windy, so I didn't know how fast I would be able to run. However, I still planned running a solid effort, regardless of conditions.
The 5k ended before the 10k started, and Ryan Chastain beat Snellen by a few seconds to win in 15:06, which was pretty impressive in the windy conditions. When it was time for my race, I got in a few hard strides and was ready to run.
When the gun went off, I took the lead right away and tried to immediately get under 5:00 pace. Because of the incoming winds, the 10k course was run backwards this year in hopes that it would make it less brutal.
We had a nice tailwind at our backs for the first half mile or so but right after that, the wind was right in our faces. I could definitely tell I slowed down my speed but I tried to push through it and keep a hard effort. I hit the first mile in 5:01, which was slower than I wanted, but with the wind factored in, I knew it was pretty fast, so I tried to keep my rhythm.
I was hoping the wind would die down in the second mile but it was in my face the entire way. My two mile split was 10:29, which gave me a 5:28 second mile. That really frustrated me and I thought it killed my chances at running under 32:00. Shortly into the third mile, the course branched off onto the greenway. I knew this meant it would be flat for a while but the wind would be mostly hit-or-miss because the greenway is mostly a straight line.
Once I got onto the greenway, the wind was mostly at my side and partially in my face. It was annoying because it pushed my singlet and race number strongly to my right side, so my right arm was hitting the number with arm swing, which got really annoying. I hit my third mile in 15:39, which gave me a 5:09 split, but meant I was almost halfway done and still over 32:00 pace.
The fourth mile was entirely on the greenway and I found my rhythm again with a 4:59 mile split. The "Ryans", Ted, Dan and Justin ran their 5k cooldown on the greenway, and when I ran by them, they gave me some motivation to keep on pushing. Most of the 5th mile was still on the greenway and I kept my rhythm pretty well with a 5:01 split. Running my last two miles in 10:00 got me back under 32:00 pace, and if I ran under 5:20 for the last mile, I would be under 32:00.
Unfortunately, the last mile was mostly headwinds, but I was determined to break 32:00, so I pushed as hard as I could. To be honest, I thought I was running over 5:20 pace, but when I hit the six mile marker in 30:44 (5:05 split), I knew I had sub 32:00 in the bag. I kept my rhythm and finished in 31:45, winning by a few minutes.
The off-and-on winds made it really challenging. Whenever I felt the winds disappear, I would try to grit down and push. A couple of times I caught myself in cruise mode, and when that happened, I tried to pick it back up. I felt really strong aerobically but my legs felt like they were almost sprinting the whole time. I'll take that as a good sign because hopefully it means my gas tank is really strong while being a little inefficient at faster speeds, which is exactly what I want two weeks out from the marathon.
I also won 12 free Purity ice cream coupons and with a pregnant wife at the home, will be put to good use. All in all a pretty good day and a good confidence booster for the marathon in two weeks. I don't think I could have won the 5k, but I would have loved to race those guys in the 10k to see what would have happened.
And you couldn't have asked for a race to give you better post race food than ice cream, chocolate milk and hot, homemade macaroni and cheese.