Brief Disclaimer: I actually hadn't thought to write an official race report but after reading Greg Strosaker's, I figured I'd like to get it down on paper while it's still in my mind.
The race was on Father's Day, a Sunday morning, about a 20 minute drive to the west of Paris on the other side of the Seine. I only agreed to run the race because it had a start time of 9:30 a.m. and with my preaching responsibilities at the church being at 3:30 p.m., it still gave me enough time to get back, shower and get to church. So, I left the house around 7:30 to get my car, picked up a friend, and we drove together to the race.
My legs felt pretty good during the warm up but I wasn't sure after a pretty intense week of training with a pretty solid hill workout on Thursday evening. I ran a couple of easy miles to get the legs juicy, saw a bunch of guys from the club, and was seriously thankful for the drop in temperature. After a marathon in the upper 80's and then a 5k in the 90's it was a RELIEF to run in the mid 60's for once.
We all got in the corral about 10 minutes before the gun, myself toward the front but still behind the Elite category, consisting of about 25 people who just oozed fast. Gun goes off and there's a slight descent right away. Of course there are about 100 people who think that means it's time to sprint and they go flying by. I ran with my friend Samir and at this point we just let them go. My strategy was just to try to run 5:30 and keep it even. Came through in about 5:28 but with the downhill, that was perfect. 5:25 second mile and I felt completely cruising and in control. The third mile isn't bad and the hill doesn't seem nearly as hard as the second time but I definitely slowed down a bit. I was just thinking that I needed to maintain contact with Samir and not let it get out of control. The mile was 5:45 and even though I lost some time, I still came through the 5k in around 17:20 so I was feeling great about things.
Meanwhile, we were just mowing people down left and right. The start-too-fast bunch we caught by the mile but there were some other rockets who went off a little early and they got drilled on the hill. It was not just us passing people either, there was a nice little pack who went with us at times.
The 4th mile was back to a bit of descent and I let the legs go for a 5:30, still feeling great but definitely starting to feel fatigued. The thoughts of "ok, 2 to go, you can do this" started in and I knew it was now the time to employ the guts. Mile 5 was 5:33 and by this time Samir was gone. He had really maintained the pace, even on the hill and had put about 10 seconds on me by this time. He finished 19 ahead because I died a bit on mile 6. The last mile was tough. My stomach was hurting, my breathing was labored and I just didn't feel in attack mode at all.
Usually in races I can size it up so that on the last 400 I'm just blowing it up but this one it didn't happen. Mostly because of the hill which caused a 5:48 6th mile but also because I got that "I'm gonna puke" feeling which was mostly mental I think but it slowed me down. I got passed by one guy who ended up finishing in 34:45 and he must have just been chilling most of the race because I was like walking and I ran a 5:19 pace for the last .3.
When I saw the clock toward the finish I could still see 34's and I about peed myself because I didn't think there was anyway I'd be close to this. Too bad I had no sprinting left.
After reflecting, I'm very encouraged by this race. I'm encouraged by where my fitness is at but also by my training. I'm looking forward to the marathon preparation but I'm also looking forward to racing a few more 10k's (maybe as part of the plan) and seeing if I couldn't get down into the low 34's. In France there is a completely different system but every year they have sort of amateur national championships for every age group. This is the benefit of having 60 million people in your whole country. Anyway, the qualifier for my age group 30-39 is 34:00. I'm starting to either get foolish hope or really focused for what could be. We'll see.
I love racing again.