Monday, May 14, 2007

Battle of the Boulevard 10k Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 2; 8th Edition

171.2 miles raced in 2007
Race: Battle of the Boulevard 10k
Place: Arlington, VA
Miles from home: .8
Course Difficulty: 8.5 out of 10
Course Enjoyability: 3 out of 10
Weather: 60s;
Finishers' Medal: N/A

When my friend told me about this first time 10k being run just a week after I had run back to back marathons I gave it some thought but not seriously. I had not run a 10k in over three years and wondered if I would be in any shape to try this distance. As I have told many people, I think the 10k is a tough race. One cannot give it the full all-out sprint they would a 5k but it is far too short to pace yourself. It is a tough distance. But, being that my goal this year is to set a PR in every distance, I figured it is hard to pass up an opportunity to run a race within walking distance of my house!

The Course:

What can I say about this course other than it was a toughie. Even though I knew the exact streets that the race would be run on and have driven them many times, I had never run them on foot.

As you can see from the elevation profile below, the first mile and change were on a steep downhill. You run through some of the shopping areas of an area of Arlington called Clarendon then onto the neighborhood of Courthouse. The middle two miles begin in Rosslyn, with the Marine Corps Memorial (Iwo Jima) about two blocks to your right. You then traverse a highway which is completely blocked off and is quite non-descript. Hitting the turn-around 5k point at some completely random place in the road you make a turn around a cone and head back the way you came. You can only guess that the hill at the end was no fun whatsoever.

My Race:

First mile:

I had a fairly good idea of what I could run a 10k, even though I had not been training for this sort of speedwork whatsoever. I was shocked to learn in the weeks leading up to the race that my 10k PR was only a 38:49. I knew I had only run a handful of 10ks when I lived in Erie but I could have sworn I had run faster. Oh well. Should be easy to set a new PR today, I thought.
A very large crowd showed up for this race, as crowds are wont to do for inaugural races. But together with "Neighborhood Days" in Arlington, there was also a 2k, a parade later on and a slew of other events. It seems counter-intuitive at first but I do not know all that much about the neighborhood just a mile away from me. I can tell you about some of the finer restaurants in Juneau, Alaska and where to swim with the stingrays in Grand Cayman but some of the niceties of my backyard escape me. So this little show of local camaraderie was not only quite fun for me but actually pleased me. With nearly 1,400 finishers for the 10k you can imagine how packed the little area was.

After a few words from local government officials and the owner of the Pacers store which put on the days running events, the gun sounded and we were off. With the first hill going nothing but downhill, I hoped to bank a little time here in order to make up for the eventual slowdown on the way home. Usually not a believer in "banking time" in a marathon, I hoped this shorter distance would contain different results. After about a quarter of a mile, I realized I was still right behind the leaders and knew that was too fast. Even slowing down I crossed the first mile in 5:20 or so. Whoops!

Middle miles:

My second mile was a much more reasonable 5:53 but my third mile, right before the 5k mark (obviously), troubled me. Running a 6:17, which was WAY slower than I wanted to at this point, threw me off. Sure there was a slight uphill on this mile but well, crap. I hit the 5k turnaround at 18:09, or 13 seconds faster than I ran JUST the 5k last week. This bodes well for me breaking my 5k PR later this year, I thought.

Turning back down the highway from whence we just came, I could see hordes of runners coming at me. It was awesome to see not only my friend Katie who was visiting the area from north Carolina but also slews of other people that I rarely get to see locally run because I am usually in Seoul or Texas when all the local races are being run here.

With three women ahead of me I decided to see if I could hold mile four steady and then track them down by the end of the race. However, with my fourth mile clocking in at another disappointingly slow 6:21, I could only attempt to make myself feel better about by persuading myself that my legs had intentionally saved up energy for the last big hills.

Last 2.2 miles:

Oy. I swear they had the hill on a jack and whatever it was we ran down, they hiked up a few more notches on the way back. Talk about a momentum and spirit crusher when you are trying to run fast!
Mile 5 took me 6:53 and I saw all chances of a low 37 minute 10k vanish. Even though the last mile was slightly less hilly, a 6:34 crushed my hopes of even a 37 minute whatever time. Now I just had to make sure I set a new PR.


With a 1:10 last .2 of a mile I was lucky enough to pass a few people, while never catching any of the three females in front of me (came close to one though!). I did, however, save just enough energy to set a new PR by 13 seconds as I crossed the finish line 36th overall in a time of 38:36. (Annie was kind enough to stop by for just a few minutes on her way to crush some tennis balls in order to catch this quick clip of me finishing here:

This was not the time I was hoping for but given the difficulty of the course I am pretty sure I have a shot at a 36-minute 10k time this year. This is hardly a time which will set the world afire (heck that might not event make its toes toasty) but I will be pleased with it.

Congrats goes out to Katie, Diana, Megan, James, Devon, Katharine, Adi, John, Bruce and a slew of other friends who made the run that day. Way to conquer the hill on a beautiful day in Arlington. Virginia is for Runners!


KK said...

Congrats on the PR! It was fun to cheer for you and Katie from the course instead of the sidelines time time.

Yellow Scuba said...

Congratulations on the PR, Dane! That hill is a b!$%h, but you still nailed a PR. :) You'll hit 37 this summer; I have no doubt. Yay for Tiny Katie cruising to a great race, too.