Last weekend I ran the Mesa 10K. This race is part of the Sprouts Mesa Marathon weekend and going into the race I was ready for it to really suck.
Not because of the race or the organization, but I didn’t think I was ready for it at all. To start with I haven’t trained for any kind of running race since mono in November. That’s mostly due to soccer season. Originally, this was to be the year of the 10K and when I signed up for it nearly a year ago I was still on track for that to happen. However, after the injuries and mono those plans changed, but this was still on my schedule. So, I decided to do it anyway.
Added to the lack of training I ran a very hard soccer day the night before. Lots of running and fast paced. Which is fun but exhausting and thanks to the overtime and PKs to decide a winner, a late night.
Coach V and I decided that Saturday morning in order to get to the race in time to catch the shuttle to the start line we needed to LEAVE the house by 4:15. Which meant getting up around 3:30 in order to have ourselves and the baby ready to go in time.
Well, we overslept, but just a little and we were out the door by 4:20. A little behind but recoverable. On the way there we discovered a section of I-10 that was closed and causing all the traffic to stop as everyone was trying to get off the highway. Now we were seriously behind and I was starting to worry about catching the shuttle to the start line. But, nothing we could do so I tried to think of other things. I got my nebulizer ready to do a breathing treatment using the AC outlet in the van only to discover that it draws more than the outlet can handle and won’t work.
“That’s OK”, I thought,” I’ve never used it before a race before and I still have my inhaler. Wait, were is my inhaler?” After a near frantic search of my race bag the compartments in the car and coach V’s purse I determined that I left it at home with no time to turn around.
“Well, I planned on taking it easy anyway.” I told Coach V who was trying to hide her concern. A sever asthmatic without his inhaler running is generally not a good idea. But, it wasn’t going to stop me.
After we parked, I got out of the van to discover it was a very chilly morning to be in a short sleeve shirt and my running kilt. As I walked over to stand in line for the shuttle I started visibly shivering. After what felt like forever, about 10 minutes, I got on the school bus that was being used for a shuttle. I haven’t been on a school bus since high school track and I remember having more leg room back then. The bus was slightly warmer and I stopped shivering. Although it was short lived. as soon as we got out of the bus I was cold again. I kept telling myself that once I start running I’ll be fine.
I milled around the start area with everyone else waiting for the race to start. Finally, they started playing the Start Spangled Banner. A cool thing they did was when it got to the line “and the rockets glare” they set off red fireworks. Which I thought was very cool although I wondered what the people in the neighborhood beside must think of these fireworks going off at 6:30 in the morning.
We lined up in a mob and got a 5 second countdown to the start. Ok, here we go. I started off at a light run but not looking at my watch. I now know it was about an 11 minute mile pace and slowly increased to around a 9:30. I was feeling pretty good.
My original plan before the late night and inhaler missing was to go light the first couple of miles, let the crowd stretch and thin out and then drop the hammer down from mile 2 though 5 and walk the last couple of miles in.
Coming up on mile marker 2 I decided to walk a little and do a quick system check. Lungs where fine, legs where feeling bouncy, I was smiling and having a good time, so why not. At the 2 mile marker I turned it on and went to about 9 minute miles. I went for about a half mile, took a .1 break and then went back at it. I kept that up for 3 miles, which was the goal. The 5K inside the 10K as I decided to call it was at about 30 minutes. Which I was pretty happy with. Another quick check, all systems good, so I kept the pattern up, running the last 2 miles in 9:19 and 10:17. I crossed the line at 1:20:38 and thought to myself, “Wow, that was kinda quick”. When I found coach V her coment was, “I thought you were going to go easy.”
The post race was great. The major sponsor of the Mesa Marathon is Sprouts Framers Market. For those who don’t know that is a grocery store specializing in natural and organic foods. They handed me a reusable grocery bag and then I went through the goodie line. By the time I was through it, I had califlower tortilla chips, squash pretzels, 3 different jerkies, and an assortment of other goodies overfilling my bag.
Overall a great race and as I discovered later in the day a PR for the 10K distance by about 8 minutes. Which for not trying I thought was really good and I’m extremely happy with the result.
I also want to mention the Mesa Police that helped throughout the race blocking the roads and keeping us safe while we ran. I’ve done alot of races and I have never seen a friendlier group of officers helping with a race. From friendly waves as we ran past to full volume cheering us on it made the experience very enjoyable and really helped to know that not only where they their doing a job but fully engaged in the run. Kudos to you all and thank you for all that you do!
The race did present something that got me thinking. somewhere in the middle of the course you come around a corner and there is a massive sweeping curve to the right. What struck me was that there were 3 lanes on the road blocked off for the runners but everyone was hugging the left hand side or the outside of the curve.
In auto racing the drivers attempt to make the curves into as straight of lines as possible. Generally going into the curve high, kissing the apex and coming out high. This helps them to carry as much speed as possible through the curve. And for anyone who ran shorter distances in track, namely the 200 and 400, the reason that the start is staggered is to normalize the distance between the lanes. If they all started in a straight line the inside lane would go a shorter distance than the outside.
So, with that knowledge I veered away from the pack and headed for the apex to run the tangent. I got a ton of strange looks from all the people hugging the left curb like it was a cliff and it got me thinking.
Has it just been so ingrained in them from their training runs to stay to the left that they don’t think about it. Or is it that one of the first runners through stayed left and everyone else is just following the person in front of them even though the better path is right there. I think that far too often we get stuck in the way we have always done things or following the person in front of us for fear of going the wrong way. This is not an issue I’ve had and yes it has gotten me in trouble a few times. I once turned a 10K into a 13 mile run because I thought I knew where I was going. I took 40 people with me by the way. But generally, it has served me well. Leading me to new places and meeting interesting people who seem to be as crazy or crazier than I am. If I had followed the safe path I probably wouldn’t have started running at all.
So, If you remember nothing else from these posts remember: Run the Tangents!
Until next time,…C-YA!