Race Report: 2014 Man Up Father's Day 10K

Yesterday was the Man Up Father's Day 10K (and 5K) on the North Shore. As I mentioned yesterday, this was my first 10K race and the first time I've ever ran hard for so long a distance. I'm happy with how I did though I actually didn't meet my goals.

But first the most important part--the race outfit! I posted this photo yesterday, but I'm wearing a Lululemon Cool Racerbank tank in Bali Breeze, Athleta Relay Skort in Midnight Blue, Athleta Hullabraloo Bra in grey, and Lululemon Run Like the Wind Hat in Rad Plaid. I look awful in hats, but they are a must for runs in the sun and I like this colorful plaid because it's easy for my husband to spot me at the finish line--no one else is likely to wear a wildly colorful plaid hat!

I read a tip on a blog a while back to use industrial-strength magnets for your race bib so that pins don't ruin your clothes (thanks to whomever gave that tip!) I bought these magnets for $3.98 at Home Depot. My bib didn't budge, but they're so strong that they're a bit unwieldy to work with.

Sunday morning was perfect running weather--just 53 degrees. It was very chilly when I took my dog for a walk before the race, so I considered wearing a longsleeve top. But I'm such a hot runner that I knew that was crazy thinking. Instead, I put on the cotton race t-shirt they gave out, which is probably the ugliest race t-shirt I own, to walk down to the start line at Heinz Field.

Before I left, I ate a banana, bagel with peanut butter and jelly, and took a salt stick. But I was running late so didn't get to eat chia seeds. I put some Nuun in my Nathan handheld to carry during the race. I may be a slow runner, but I'm a fast walker, so it didn't take long for me to warm up. On the walk, I took one of my Clif Shot Energy Gels with caffeine. By the time I got down to Heinz Field, which is 1.5 miles from my house, I was sweating. I took off my shirt and stashed it on top of an electrical box for after the race. I figured if someone took it, no big deal.

When I got to the start line, I saw that there were pacers! I found the 60:00 pacer and talked to her. She said it was the first year they had pacers. The training plan I followed was actually to do a sub-60 10K. I knew all along that was unlikely since I have not yet broke 30 for a 5K. But for two crazy minutes, I considered following the 60:00 pacer and told her I was going to. But then she said she would be running a 9:30 pace, and another runner wisely suggested I follow my strategy to start slow.

A woman sang a really beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, and then we were off about five minutes after I got to the start line as "Who Let the Dogs Out" was playing. I sadly let the 60:00 pacer go (a runner after the race told me the pacer started at an 8:47 pace) and tried to slow up. Everyone was tearing out of the start, and it was soooo tough to slow down. I felt like I was going at an 11:00 pace, but my Garmin said I was going 9:30, which is faster than my 5K pace. I eventually slowed to a 9:45 pace and stayed there for the first two miles.

While I didn't exactly have a time goal, the McMillan race prediction calculator factored a 10:08 pace based on my last 5K, so I was hoping to run about a 10:00 pace. I know I should have slowed down those first two miles, but I didn't. 

After we started at Heinz Field, we ran on River Road, which parallels the trail. The course went up to Washington's Landing and then on the trail on Washington's Landing before taking the river trail back to Heinz Field.

I ended up running pretty much right with another woman for the first three miles. She was a great pacer, and after the race she told me I helped her pace in the beginning too. At two miles, she said, "A third of the way there!"  I replied, "Yep, and this is when I'm supposed to speed up. Maybe after the hill!" I knew a hill was coming up to get Washington's Landing--the only hill on the course. She and I powered up the hill together, but it definitely wore me out and I didn't speed up. We passed the three-mile marker on Washington's Landing, which is when I started feeling really fatigued and falling behind (duh--I had been running at 5K pace, so no wonder).

I planned to take another energy gel after three miles because I knew from my training runs I'd need it. My stomach was a little upset, and the last thing I felt like doing was consuming mocha-flavored goo. Plus, taking one when you're running hard is really tough! I compromised and got about two-thirds of it down before I threw the rest away. In hindsight I wish I'd taken the whole thing, because it definitely replenished me and got some of my energy back up.

But I could not catch the woman I'd been running with, though I did keep her in my sights for the  rest of the race. I felt like I was running at a comfortably hard pace--very tough, but doable. I knew I wasn't giving it my all like I do in 5K races, but I really wasn't sure what my balance was between pushing harder and pushing too much and getting sick/walking/collapsing, etc. When I started to feel myself tire, my form fell apart and it got especially tough, so I focused on my form and that helped.

By the time I got to the part of the course where the 5K course cut onto the trail, the 5K runners were done and there were only 5K walkers...many with strollers and/or walking side-by-side who seemed not to realize there were still runners on the course. Luckily a woman in front of me kept calling "passing on your left" to help part the crowds.

While I had planned to get progressively faster every two miles, it did not happen. I kept slowing up until the very end. I had my Garmin set to average pace and don't know how to read splits on my watch (or it's so old that it doesn't show splits) so based on the average pace and how I felt, this is how I estimate I did:

Plan for Miles 1-2: 10:10 pace
Actual for Miles 1-2: 9:30-9:50 pace
Plan for Miles 2-4: 10:00 pace
Actual for Miles 2:4: 10:00-10:15 pace
Plan for Mile 4: 9:50 pace
Actual for Mile 4: 10:15-10:20 pace
Plan for Mile 5-6.2: 9:40 pace
Actual for Mile 5-6:2: 10:20, but at the end I sped up to what felt like a 9:40 pace

When I saw the 5-mile marker, I increased my effort, but my average pace didn't fall. When we got to the Clemente Bridge, someone had a bullhorn and was calling out that we had only .2 miles to go. Now, I knew that wasn't true because I run that trail all the time. It was still over a half mile. But I wanted to believe there was only .2 miles to go, so I really picked up my pace until I was running at what felt was my 5K pace. I did pass a few people...and by a few I mean like three.

The finish line was around a slight corner and out of sight on the trail, and everyone around me was exclaiming, "Where's it at? Where's the finish?" I was thinking the same thing! But then we rounded the corner and saw it. Yay! Here I am about dying from that final push as I crossed.

Here are my stats according to my Garmin.

The official stats had me finishing at 1:04:34 with a pace of 10:25. So, I did not execute my negative split strategy well at all, and my time was slower than I thought it would be. In hindsight, I do think if I followed my plan to start slow and pushed a little harder, I could have achieved that 10:08 pace. But I'm still pretty happy with how I did because this was the first time I've run for a hard effort for that long of a distance, and I did have a strong finish. And now I have a baseline and can work to improve.

Overall, the race was very well organized, and the volunteers were awesome. They were all super friendly and enthusiastic, many giving high fives and hootin' and hollerin'. There were volunteers spread out all along the course, including on Washington's Landing, to cheer us on, even those of us in the back of the pack. The race seemed to go by in the blink of an eye even though it was tough, and I think that was partly due to the large amount of cheering volunteers. There were also a lot of water stops. I didn't count how many, but it seemed like it was every mile, thought it couldn't really have been. I would definitely run this race again. I really enjoyed it.

My husband Dave brought Django to the finish line to meet me. It was a long walk for Django from our house, and he's extremely heat intolerant. Even though it wasn't really hot in the morning, it was for him. He barely looked at me when I came up to them after I finished, and I knew he was hot and cranky...so cranky that he refused to turn around for the camera. So here's a picture of me and my dog's ass.

Django usually gets a lot of attention anywhere we go, and this race was no different. Lots of people came up to him to say hi. He was polite but I could tell he wasn't enjoying himself. I got ice cream that they were giving to the runners and gave him mine, even though I knew he'd get the runs from it. That perked him up a bit. We started walking home and tried to keep to the shade. I found my t-shirt where I'd hidden it and picked it up, then we walked back on the river trail.

At the fountain by PNC Park, we let him go in because he was so hot and miserable.

He laid down to cool off.

He was really happy after that! He loves lounging in water, and the water must have cooled him off because he was a happy camper on the rest of the walk.

My running goals for 2014 I set at the beginning of the year were to train for and run a 5K, 10K, and half-marathon. Two goals met, one more to go!

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