Sun 13 Oct 2013
It was a beautiful, but warm morning in Santa Monica, California as a group of us readied ourselves for the Santa Monica 5000 10K scheduled to start at 8:30 am on Sunday morning, October 6th. My son, John, decided to run at the last minute so, as he hurried to register, Minh and I took a warm-up lap to the restrooms, my second time and her third time—you know those pre-race jitters. Well, I didn’t have the pre-race jitters as much as Minh. She was running her very first 10K. I was taking a break from marathon training to see how fast I could run a 10K despite the long runs I had been running for weeks.
Wendy, a running veteran, prefers to run 5K’s because, as a CrossFit enthusiast, she doesn’t train for 10K’s. But she wanted to support her friend and co-worker, Minh, and registered for the 10K. Paul, also, a running veteran, loves the half-marathon and 10K distance. His colleague, Larry, joined our running group at the last minute too. He was also running his first 10K. He smiled. “How hard can it be?”
We scattered at the starting line and I took my place at the 9 minute pace sign and fired up my IPod. Wow, what a beautiful course, much of it along the beach but gradually uphill much of the way until a turnaround at about mile four and then it was a fast finish downhill to the end. Yes, I worked at picking up the pace, used to training slower for the long runs (now at 18 miles) and before I knew it, the 6.2 miles was over. I crossed the finish line in 53:18, an 8:36 per mile average pace. One of the upsides of running mammoth miles is that six miles seems really short—really it does.
I’m happy to report that we all finished the 10K. Wendy supported Min as she crossed the finish line for her first 10K. Larry also crossed the finish line. He was still smiling despite his tiredness. “That was a little harder than I thought it would be.” But he finished. Way to go Min and Larry!
Paul was pleased with his time, even though he had set a PR on his training run the previous day. He’s an animal. My son? John is a physical guy and regularly works out but hasn’t been running that much. Wouldn’t you know it? He placed second in his age group 20 – 24, running a 44:49, a 7:14 per mile pace without training. The proud Mom is smiling.
Me? Well…I placed first in my age group 55-59. Yeah, it feels good. But, more importantly, it bolsters my confidence as I go into my toughest training for the marathon on December 06. The next six weeks I will build my miles to 60 per week before I taper down the next three weeks before the marathon. Why in the world am I doing this? I want to qualify for Boston again, it’s important to me to support the race. But, more importantly, I want to prove to myself that I can still break four hours—at 59 years old. I’m feeling strong…and confident.
But you know one of the main reasons we get up at an ungodly hour on a Sunday morning to run a race? Because, after the race, we celebrate. We go out for brunch and drinks and consume whatever calories we burned—and more. Who said runners don’t have any fun? It certainly wasn’t any of us!
Note: My book, Breaking Barriers, will be published in 2014. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to be included on the email list. “No, sheer effort is not the key to getting what we want. It’s much easier than that. Yes—easier.”