Sunday, October 30, 2011

Plymouth Wicked Halloween Run, Plymouth MI, 30th October 2011

Today was going to be a little different as Bren had decided to sign herself up to walk in the 5k with the dogs - a horrible prospect for me, but she decided to go for it all the same.

The day started bright & early, as usual, for a race day, but cold. I'm not sure exactly how cold, all I can say is that it was damn cold. We got down there with about 45 minutes to spare as we wanted to make sure we could get a half decent parking space. The city was buzzing and filled to the brim with runners, all very strange for 7:30am on a Sunday morning. A stage had been setup so that a local dance troupe could start the racers with an all singing, all dancing rendition of Michael Jackson's Thriller. There was about 1,300 runners in the 10k, which considering this is it's first year, is pretty incredible. I decided to start a little down the pack, just to let those that stand a chance of winning get away. My plan was to try and average under 8:51 so I could break 55 minutes. I started out beside Chris, but I had my plan and a Garmin watch that would be nagging me the whole way about my pace, so I wasn't going to hang around too long.

So the starter gun went off and so were we. Initial starting was very slow, the pad you had to cross to start the timer was small and it was taking the field a while to get across. I was hoping that the field would start stretching out very soon after we started, after all, I had a time to work on, and quite an ambitious one at that. So I eventually got to amble over the line a minute or so after the gun, the place was mobbed. I knew I had to try a set an 8:51 pace and stick to it but the race was so busy that I struggled to find any space to run. I was constantly crossing behind people, slowing down, speeding up, trying to get some space, but nothing I did would get my pace down. I ended up putting in 9:26 which was almost 40 seconds off what I needed to try and beat the 55 minute target that I needed. Luckily I had set the Virtual Partner pace on my Garmin to 8:43, which I had set the previous week, while running around Walled Lake.

The course was nice and flat, and what with it being mid-fall, very pretty to look at. Plymouth really is a very pretty town and I think that helped calm me down. I was still having to jostle to find a gap to run in but the field was spreading out and I managed to find my stride, putting in a respectable 8:42 for the second mile. I had now resigned myself to missing my target, the choice was now, by how much.

I had been getting concerned that I hadn't been pushing myself enough and that I can do better than I have been. My first competitive 10k, had my heart rate peak at 192bpm, whereas the following runs were nowhere near. I realize that when I run myself, it is easy to fall into a slower pace and slack off, but during races it should be easier to push myself. My conscious effort to use the Virtual Partner had started to pay dividends though.

I decided that I had to keep going, I would do everything I can to try and maintain the 8:43 pace, as set on the watch. the aid stations came and went, I had at least a sip of water at each one. I now try and walk while sipping due to myself almost drowning while trying to drink and run. I know it loses a little time, but it is minimal compared with the embarrassment of almost drowning while running, nowhere near any large body of water. I also don't take anything from the aid stations that I don't normally take during training runs, a race is the wrong time to try anything new, so the Gatorade, from GU and M&M's were dutifully ignored. The third mile of 8:48 disappointed me a little as I feared I would start with my pace creep, so mile 4 brought another conscious effort to speed up a bit, when it came in at 8:44, I was pleased. I lacked the mental capacity to try and work out what my predicted finish time would be, but all I was hoping for was ~56 minutes and a new PR. Mile 5 & 6 came in respectably at 8:47 & 8:45. Mile 6 looked good as I kicked it up a notch to try and finish strong, with about 1/2 mile to go, I realized that I might just make the 55 that I was looking for. I knew we must be very close, but my knowledge of downtown Plymouth is very limited, outwith where the pubs are, of course. But there the finish line was, I kicked it up a notch again, crossed the line and stopped my watch at 55:03. It wasn't until I saw the official timing that I knew I had done what I set out to do, 10k in 54:59. If it hadn't been for that first mile, I could have done way better, so who knows.

So with my new tech shirt, my medal and some snacks, I settled down to the tough job of recovering and looking for friends to finish their personal battles.

I finished 51st out of 90 in my division, 426 out of 1264 overall, I'll take it

A great big thanks to Bren for being there, being supportive and doing the 5k with our crazy hounds...

Video of the start of the run -
Official results - 8

How the Garmin saw it -

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