Monday, May 14, 2007

Back to Racing - Battle of the Boulevard 10K

I ran my first race in months this past weekend. I hadn't considered any races up until recently and finally registered and made it to my first one since last year's marathon. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I had at least hoped I had made some slight improvement. My last 10K was about a year ago and I ran it in 7:47/mi pace. I ran the Army Ten Miler in 7:40/mi pace. So, I figured I could do at least 7:40/mi, if not faster. I ran through the winter, albeit with no real goal pushing me, and I only had a layoff of a few weeks due to my back injury. So, I didn't think I'd have really lost much fitness. In any case, I may not quite be where I thought I was.

I ran the first ever Battle of the Boulevard 10K this past Saturday. It was organized by a local running store, Pacers, and was tied to some sort of Arlington-centric festival. It was probably a cool event, but I wasn't interested in hanging around much. Besides, Jon and I were running it and it was his birthday and all, so we had more exciting things to do. Uh, or less exciting, depending on how you look at it. It was his birthday after all...Happy Birthday, Jon!

I had hoped to use the Metro to get to the race since the start/finish line was right near Clarendon Metro. But, I got up late and was concerned that I'd get screwed by waiting around for the subway. So, I drove, which turned out to be a good decision. First, it meant I could stop and get a small cup of coffee and actually drink it on the way to the race, something I couldn't have done on Metro. And, parking was really easy. Jon had found a lot that had free parking that morning and was just two or three blocks from the race. I met Jon in the parking lot and we just hung around until the race started. The crowd seemed very feminine - that is, there seemed like a whole lot of women were going to be running this race. My sense is that the ratio is usually pretty even and it may have been, but it felt like things were way out of whack. I think that the male-female ration in Arlington is probably not that even, so maybe it is just because of that. So, Jon and I stood around and stared at women while I pointed out some of the more "famous" local runners in the crowd, like Max Lockwood and Dane Rauschenberg. I guess I am becoming a bit of a running fan, so to speak, and like following the exploits of the local runners who are way better than me.

It seemed rather warm. Okay, it was rather warm, certainly for 8AM and definitely for a 10K. I don't know what the official temp was at the start of the race, but it was hot and humid and I sweat a heck of a lot. The weather was the first sign that this wouldn't be the best race performance for me. The other sign was the topography of the race. Starting in Clarendon and racing into Rosslyn and then down 110 means mostly going downhill, particularly the first mile and a half or so. I know I went out fast, but I tried to take advantage of gravity and let myself get pulled down the hills a bit. I any case, I held my speed for the most part on the flat section and well past the turn around. On my way back, I saw Jon and we high-fived. Not long after that, I passed a particularly sweaty and gangly co-worker of mine. I didn't notice her at all, but she called my name as I ran right past her. I said hi, wished her good luck, and kept going. Coming back into Rosslyn, I think I was still averaging a 7:30/mi pace. I felt good, but I knew that the climb back to Clarendon was coming and that it would be very hard to keep that pace. Yeah, it was hard alright. It was like climbing stairs and I felt like I was sucking wind. I knew I was slowing down so I didn't even bother to look at my Forerunner...I didn't want to know how bad it was getting.

The hill leveled off and I ran as hard as I could past the Whole Fields, Whitlows, and up to the finish line. I felt good, but wiped out. I grabbed a bunch of bottles of water and hung around the finish waiting for Jon. After Jon rolled in, we poked around the festival area a bit since I thought I had heard that they posted the times for the first 1000 runners, but we couldn't find it anywhere. So, sweaty and warm, we headed back to my house for a bit of birthday brunch in Jon's honor.

My performance was pretty disappointing overall. Having run a sub-8 minute pace in a 10K last year and a sub-8 minute pace in a 10 miler as well, I figured I would definitely run a sub-8 pace for this race as well. I was hoping for a 7:30/mi pace, but missed that by a fair amount. Admittedly, my training hasn't been as hard the past few months, but I still didn't think I had lost much. I am now doing some speedwork and will be giving it another shot in either a 5K or 10K soon. 7:30/mi or bust!

Battle of the Boulevard Bib # 4725
Arlington, VA
May 12, 8:30 am

Time: 48:45
Overall Place: 242/1314
Pace: 8:03