This past weekend, I ran a 10K race. This was at the Shoreline Park in Mountain View, which houses the Shoreline Amphitheatre, a site for music concerts. This is what it looks like during the day.
More than a couple of years had passed since my last 10K which was in 2004 and which was essentially my last race. This was a condition-gauging race, with the prime objective being to see where I stand in my current state.
The race was conducted by a charity organization, Asha. One of my colleagues told me about them last year when he was training with them for a marathon. Check them out at ashanet.org. Their primary objective is education and they are very efficient in their fund-raising. Take a gander at their efficiency rating over at charitynavigator.org and you'll see that they score 39.70 out of a possible 40. Mighty impressive.
The race was an out-and-back course and started at 9:20 a.m., a wee bit late into the day for a warm spring day. Most of my races have started by 7-8 a.m. If I were primed for an optimal performance, that might have been a concern, but in this case, it just merely a passing thought. There were about a couple of hundred entrants in the 5K and 10K inclusive. This was a low key race and there was no gun to start us off, just a human voice counting down from 10 downwards. Off we started. I found myself bunched up behind a few slower runners and started weaving my way gently to the front where I found myself in a pack of about 10-12 people. Mile 1 came even before I realized - in 6:20. Mile 2 and 3 followed in 7:28 and 7:52. This part passed by marshlands and we found ourselves fighting swarms of little bugs, the kind that you find on ripe fruit. Trying to keep them from entering the eyes and mouth. However, my legs were starting to tire by now and so, eschewing mouth-breathing wasn't really all that difficult. The turn-around came soon after and miles 4 and 5 were in 7:55 and 7:49. This was even worse since, by now, my face was covered in sweat and going back through the buggy area saw me come out with dozens of bugs stuck on my neck and face. A few made their way into my eyes. Soon after mile 5, there was a marker which said 0.2. That was a neat concept which I haven't seen before. What this means is that, at this point, you are done with 5.2 of the 6.2 miles that constitute a 10K and that you have exactly one mile to the finish. If I were in better shape, that would have been an invitation to change gears and blast it all the way through the end. However, the combination of tired legs and the bugs prevented me even trying to do so. I did manage a slightly faster mile and finished in 7:14 for a total time of 45:18. I reckon I finished about 7th or 8th overall. My pace was 7:18 min/mile. Can't say I was too disappointed but I had been hoping for a sub-44 minute time since that would've given me a sub-7:00 pace.
The guy that finished just before me (about 20 seconds ahead) ran the entire race barefoot. Part of the course was over dirt trails and I was impressed. The overall winner was a Stanford University track team runner who finished in 32:XX while looking like he'd just finished a leisurely Sunday morning jog.
My weekly mileage for the month leading into this race was a bit on the low end - 12.5, 19, 18, 16, and 10 - in addition to about 85 miles of biking and 0 miles of speedwork. Speedwork was something that I'd last done back in 2004. So, overall, I wasn't exactly expecting to do too well, however, I was satisfied with what I did. At least I know where I stand and this gives me a base to shoot from for the next target. I think I'll be aiming for sub-40 which is a 6:27 pace. It'll be tough, but it has to be done. :)
Shoreline Park is a nice place, especially on a night where a full moon is rising. However, it's probably not the best place for a race if the race has to pass through swarms of marsh bugs.