Texas Hill Country
October 12, 2020
Uptown Classic 10K
Heading into the 10K I was still unsure of everything. I didn't know where I stood compared to my competition. I didn't know how fast I could really run a 10K if I tried. I didn't know how to pace for one either. And my left achilles tendon had been bothering me the week before (yeah, THAT tendon).
Peyton was also running the 10K, so we both headed up there early in the morning, still slightly dark out. We wound up having to walk about 15 minutes to the start line from where we parked. After stretching and taking one last stop at the bathroom (I sometimes get stomach problems if I don't), we tossed our jackets behind some bushes and joined the masses behind the start line.
I managed to squirm my way to the front of the pack and did a little last-minute extra stretching before the gun sounded. Since I didn't know how to pace, I just started running hard and tried to stay with people that looked fast. After about a half mile, someone around me mentioned we were on roughly a 5:40 mile pace. I was aiming for a 6:00 mile, so I thought maybe I should slow down. But somehow I didn't feel like I was getting tired, so I decided I'd see how long I could keep it up.
Some of the runners around me looked like seasoned veterans so I figured they'd be pacing well. I put myself behind a tall one and started drafting. By mile 2, I was part of a group of four. At miles 2 and 3, still chugging along OK and still holding a 5:40 mile. Nice! Better than I thought I could do! Would I hold up late in the race though?
Mile 4 introduced us to a few hills. On a downhill, I moved to the left and led the charge down the hill. By the end of the ensuing uphill, the rest of the pack was a few steps ahead of me again. I went back to drafting.
Just before mile 5, The pack I was with started getting away from me. I didn't even really notice until the gap had stretched to about 12 feet. I realized I was falling off pace and that I could stay with it and gut it out for another mile and a half. I dug in and caught back up with the pack.
With 32:30 showing on my watch, I knew there was only about three minutes to go. Figured it was a good time to go for a last push. I moved to the left again and opened it up a bit. The guy I was drafting off of let me go and said "Go get it, man!" One of the pack followed me.
After about a minute of surging, I was probably back down to my normal pace. I'm not good at sustained surges. I rounded a corner and saw the finish line only about a minute away. I sprinted through it, waving my arms to pump the crowd up. Gave a fist pump at the finish line. Time: 35:18. Damn! I was hoping for 36:30 at best.
I got my jacket, a post-race banana, and some sorta recovery drink they were handing out. Got my clothes and stretched a bit. Made my way back over towards where the finish line was and watched Peyton finish. "GO PEYTON!" twice. She didn't notice somehow. She finished in 53 minutes, better than the race's average time of 60 minutes.
I found Peyton after she finished and we got some free post-race lasagna (nice!). Walked around a bit. Heard that the results were ready and made our way over towards the results table. I told them my name and age division. They pulled out the sheet and before they even told me, i saw my name at the top. Before I could stop myself, I yelled "HOLY CRAP!" I won my age division! By three minutes! My prize was a $10 gift certificate to a seafood place and a $50 gift certificate to a running store.
It turned out the guy I was drafting off of won the Master's division (the 45+ division). He didn't look that old to me, but maybe that's due to healthy living to the point of being able to run a 5:40 mile at the age of at least 45. I found him and congratulated him. He told me I ran a great race and he'd be watching me through the distance challenge. That made me proud.
My legs were obviously tired, but my back really seized up later that day, major pain. Weird.
So after the first event, which I thought would be my weakest, I lead my age division by three minutes. I think some of the people who had done it the year before weren't doing it this year or something, or one of them would've probably beaten me. In any case, form here on out, I control my destiny. Just keep winning and I'll win the whole thing. My goal for the next one (a 10-miler) is to stretch my lead to at least five minutes.