Thursday, September 6, 2018

Run for a Child 10K: Traditions & Surprises

The short:

It's been awhile since I've come down the final stretch of a race to see a finishing time faster than expected with less effort than expected, but it's sure a great feeling!  This was my fourth consecutive year running the Run for a Child 10K, and each year I've run faster there, although I didn't expect to continue that streak this year.  My race plan of "win with the least effort possible" turned into winning overall female by over 5 minutes with a negative split and a 37:55, which was a course PR.  It was one of those races where I felt like I kept gaining momentum and couldn't slow down - and those are rare to come by (I think the last time I felt like this was the Phoenix Marathon).  I was pumped about defending my overall female title from 2017, I was ecstatic to break 38 on the hilly course in warm and humid conditions, but I was most thrilled about just how good I felt doing it!  I guess God knew I needed a little confidence-boost at this point in my training, and I am very thankful for it.
The big check photos prop never get old to me
Packet pick up; I always travel in
compression socks!
The long:

I keep going back to the Run for a Child 10K each year; I am picky about races so this is saying something.  I know it's always going to be warm, humid, and hilly, but for some reason I can embrace that for this race, I think because every year is comparable.  My only goal going into the 2018 event was to try to defend my overall female title from 2017.  That fate of that type of goal always depends on who else shows up, but I never stress about it like I sometimes do when I have time and pace goals, because I have no control over the former and a lot of control over the latter.  I have a goal 10K coming up on September 9, so I also went into this one hoping to save my legs for that one.  I'd briefly considered trying to better my 2017 time, but after running an 8 mile tempo that was really rough on me on August 29 (details here), including inducing a little pull in my right hamstring, I decided holding back was a better option.  My husband and I discussed the plan the night before:  try to win while running as slow as possible.

The best laid plans, right?  The race went like this:
Serious starting line debates with my friend
Daniel, who was the male overall winner
Mile 1 - As the field spread out after the gun, I positioned myself just behind the fastest women and sat there.  The first 1.25 miles of the race is nearly all uphill, so I always go out slow, but she was slowing from what already felt very conservative, so at about 0.75 I threw the towel in on my plan and pulled into the first female position, moving along with a male who was passing.  I looked at my watch when it beeped splits during this race because that felt right (I hadn't really thought about it beforehand), and mile 1 was 6:32.  It was relaxed, but my main thought was, well, I really don't want to run over 40:00 so I'll just run the least it takes to be in the 39s, which would be in the low 6:20s from there on.  I "knew" at that point that my time would be slower than the past 2 years, and I was fine with that because a win seemed pretty secure even that early, which always makes it easier to relax.  The grade-adjusted pace of that mile was 6:14, so it wasn't as slow as the numbers showed, but it was slower than I'd gone out there previously.
Can you see why mile 1 is slow?
Mile 2 - I fell in step with a male and I could feel him speeding up.  I thought, well, it's always easier to run with someone so even if he's a little faster than 6:20 it will be an easier effort than running solo the whole race.  The next split was 6:14 and I felt like I was striding out better.

Mile 3 - I continued stride for stride with the male, and we were pulling in other men.  I started to pull away a little towards mile 3, and encouraged him to come with me so he would move up in place, but he fell back and I was on my own.  I felt like I was in a good place; putting in effort but still feeling really relaxed.  Mile 3 was 6:08.

Mile 4 - I had to smile as I passed the halfway point, because typically in 10Ks I pass the 5K feeling like there is no way I can run that distance again at that pace (even though I always do so I know that feeling is a liar - it occurs in nearly every tempo too), but in this one it seemed like an easy task.  I passed a couple of men and focused on the ones ahead of them.  Mile 4 has a lot of uphill in it and in the past I've always slowed in that mile, so was prepared for that if effort stayed equal.  When I saw my split of 6:10 I knew I was really having a good day.  I then figured I could try to be under 39:00.  In the past I've always been hurting pretty good at the mile 4 point of this race, but this year at every point I passed I kept thinking, "I feel so much better than every other time here", which is always encouraging!

Mile 5 - I felt like I was in a great rhythm and the effort was brisk but not dying (usually mile 5 of a 10K feels like dying).  I was running alone but there were two men within striking range, so I decided I'd try to pull them in.  That mile was 6:07.  At that point I was thinking I'd be somewhere around my 2016 and 2017 times (38:43 and 38:19), which was good enough for me!

Mile 6 - At this point I decided I'd try to run under 6:00 for the final mile for fun.  I passed one of the men I'd been chasing and kind of just felt like I was barreling in towards the finish.  I didn't look at my watch during or at the end of this mile, but I just knew I was running sub-6:00 (I've finished a lot of tempo runs with the same "sub-6:00 for fun" idea, and although those are on flatter courses I have a pretty good sense for pace).  The split was 5:56.
You can tell I'm not falling apart because my arm
swing form hasn't gone to crap like usual, haha!
Final stretch - I was gaining on the other man, so I decided I'd pretend he was a female and really try to pound it to catch him.  When the clock came into view during my final sprint, I saw it was still in the 37s, and gauged that I could actually make it in under 38, which really surprised me.  At that point it became just me and the clock, and I didn't even know if I beat the man or not until I looked at the photos Jon took (spoiler, I didn't).  My last 0.15 on my Garmin was 5:06 pace.  This course is certified, but my Garmin always reads it a little short, which the OCD in me dislikes but has also happened to me on several other certified courses (Rock the Parkway Half, Rock 'n' Roll Phoenix Half, White River Half, Phoenix Marathon).  I'm not sure if I dislike it more when it reads short or long (yeah, I haven't gotten the newsflash that Garmins aren't perfect and like to think mine is, and it kind of was at CIM and Grandma's)!
Eyes on the clock
I'm pretty sure I lit up walking through the finish chute, thinking "what just happened?!".  In 2017, I wanted to break 38 on this course and I wanted it to feel like less than an all-out effort (I was kind of demanding in 2017, hah).  But that year I ran a 38:19 with all I had and was disappointed I didn't have more.  I guess I accomplished my 2017 goal 1 year late!  The slow first mile really threw me off on finish time expectations, but I'm glad it worked out how it did, because the pressure of a time goal may have changed the outcome.  I was really excited about my course PR (also my 3rd fastest lifetime 10K), but I just couldn't get over how extremely smooth I felt doing it!  Especially considering how not good I'd felt on my recent tempo run in similar weather.  Race morning was 74* with a dew point of 70*.

Official results are here.
Garmin splits - course splits would
be a shade faster at 6:07 average
I love Strava's grade-adjusted pace feature
I love that this race does the big check photo prop at the awards!  I also love how we combine it with a fun family weekend (many photos from that below), so this is a tradition I hope we can continue!  There will come a time where I won't run a faster finishing time than the previous year, and I've also made peace with that.
I hope to be running when I'm in my 70s like
Dr. Bob!
My progression for this race:
2018 - 37:55 and 1st overall female
2017 - 38:19 and 1st overall female, details here
2016 - 38:43 and 3rd overall female, details here
2015 - 40:22 and 3rd overall female (recovering from cryptosporidum so this one set the bar pretty low to start with)

Our traditional moms by the hotel pool selfie
Hotel pool = successful trip
Shel Silverstein wrote about this spot
Jon found a charging station for our Volt
Ice cream & Nickelodeon also make any
vacation successful
The Amazeum was pretty amazing
I'm not sure this was the safest children's' activity
Never stop exploring or believing!


  1. Those splits are so consistent and progressively faster. Then you add in the grade adjustment and it’s crazy what a great job you did pacing! I agree with the mile 5 death feeling for a 10k, that’s definitely my typical!

    1. If you don’t feel like death in mile 5, you’re running too slow, right?!!