I was extremely excited when my wife told me about an inaugural 10K in her hometown, Mobridge, SD. The Chamber of Commerce put on a 5K on Fri evening and a 10K on Saturday morning to raise funds for a new indoor community pool.
The 10K is a new race distance for me, as I have competed in 800m, 1Mile, 2 Mile in high school and have run only a 5K in cross country. The next highest distance has been the marathons I've run. Therefore I was guaranteed a personal record :).
My aspiration was to run a sub 45min race and take it as a learning experience in regards to pacing. This way I learn what pace I can hold steadily and what it feels like to run this long distance at anaerobic level.
In the distances of 5K or less, I usually start off with my fastest pace right from the beginning and try to hang on for dear life afterwards. During the marathons, I give myself a rather long spell of recovery towards the 3/4 part of the race, before trying to pick up the pace towards the end again.
I imagined this 10K to be closer to the marathon pacing (at faster speed obviously), especially since I had just finished the Brookings Marathon the prior weekend.
After a brief warm-up I met up with my wife and her friends who had also signed up. I turned on my music, which was going to help me keep the same consistent pace. However, when the gun sounded I completely disregarded the music and sprinted out up front. I have never led a race before so I wasn't sure what to think. I looked back to make sure everyone else started as well and I wasn't a dimwit running off by myself :).
My watch showed that I was going out too fast and there was no way I could sustain that speed. As on cue, I was passed not even a half mile after the start. However, I expected more people to pass, but it remained only one guy. He had also slowed his speed and was a consistent 10 meters in front of me. A quick turn put us on the trail along the shore of Lake Oahe. I immediately felt the head-wind, even though it wasn't as strong as it normally is out there. There are little to no trees, absolutely no mountains and the lake is only surrounded by miles and miles of prairie. Nothing to block the wind.
I sped up briefly to catch up and try to draft of him by running behind him. From the trail we could see the rest of field trailing and I had a chance to waive towards my wife and her friends. The course was an out-and-back and I was looking forward to the later part of the race to see her again.
The other runner (I later learned his name to be Junior) and I distanced ourselves from the 3rd and 4th place and ran along each other towards the turn around point, which also was the only water station. I didn't need the water as I was carrying a small handheld water bottle and continuously drank during the run. Junior wasn't so fortunate and seemed to get tired and I looked forward to putting some distance between us when he would grab something to drink. However, he shocked me by skipping the aid station all together and stuck with me. Now it was only 3 miles towards the finish and the clock was right around the 21:30 minute mark (exactly my recent 5K race time).
We started running by the other runners that hadn't reached the turn around point and I knew unless we completely broke in, the race would be decided between the two of us.
After high-fiving my wife, I started speeding up for short bursts as I was planning on tiring out a now de-hydrated Junior. Surprisingly he started doing the same thing and it was bitter to taste my own medicine. In retrospect, this strategy helped both of us to run personal bests that day. After the second to last turn we both began our kick and I just couldn't shake him and h actually passed me as the last 500 meters were uphill towards the finish. I took the last turn at a high risk-high reward speed and passed him with about 100 meters to go. My lungs screamed at me in agony and my legs begged me to stop. I could feel my stomach turning inside out. As I crossed the finish line, breaking the tape, I could feel nothing of this anymore. I dropped to the ground breathing heavily, but feeling priceless. My mind was blank but I was overly elated. I had never won a race outright before and didn't know what that felt like. I shook hands with Junior who finished about 5 seconds behind and I heard the finishing time to be 43:07min. I basically doubled my recent 5K, including the exact pace. I immediately thought about what it would take to run below 40 minutes, but that would be for another day.
Then my senses came back. My music was still blasting. I hadn't noticed it in the last 45 minutes at all. I decided to go with the rhythm and continued running down the trail.