P. Reaves and I met up for the Club 10M Challenge this brisk Sunday morning for what was to be a nice, steady tempo run, just under marathon pace @ 5:40/mi. We tacked on a 4mi warmup and cooldown to make it a nice 18 mile Sunday run. Since we were not counting it as a race, I figured it was OK to forgo my usual race attire and wear a shirt. Good thing, because I don't think it had quite reached the freezing point at race start.
Reaves and I ended up running together for much of the race. At the beginning, it was a struggle to hold back--we were so close to a pack of 5 or 6 runners near the front, and it was tempting to go with them. The first mile (if you can believe the mile markers...) was 5:23, and we decided it was a little faster than we wanted. We settled down a little, and after missing the second mile mark, we hit mile 3 at 16:24 (interestingly enough, this was 5 seconds faster for me than mile 3 at the 10K last weekend--go figure) and felt really comfortable. At this point, we were in the top 10, with the pack still visible up ahead. The halfway point was 27:30 or so, for a 5:30/mi average, still feeling good, not like a race. I didn't catch every mile--Reaves I think has them on his watch--but I'm pretty sure several of the markers were off. Mile 6 was very tough and hilly; I definitely pushed it too hard and sapped a lot of energy from my legs. I fell off pace a little at mile 7 while Reaves kept on. Together, though, we began passing stragglers off the pack. It's always a good feeling to be moving up this late in the race. For me, the last few miles were tougher than I would have liked, but I was able to keep a reasonable pace without feeling like I was going all out. We cruised it into the finish, with me a little behind. The unofficial results had Patrick at 6th place (55:42) and me at 8th (55:48). Not bad, 5:35/mi overall--pretty close to the effort that we wanted to put in.
For me, I relearned/reinforced several things to keep in mind when racing longer distances: 1) It is very hard to hold back at the beginning, but it is a must in longer races like this; if I was truly racing today, I would have gone almost as slow as I did through the first half. 2) I need to eat before a race of this distance, especially since I ran a 4 mi warmup (today I didn't eat, and I felt the lack of energy the last mile). 3) I shouldn't blow myself out on hills in the middle of a race just to keep on pace--I would have been better off dropping a few seconds on mile 6; I probably would have made up the time (and more) at the end.