Sunday, March 1, 2020

St. Pete Distance Classic 10k

I got up at 3 am to run the St. Pete Distance Classic 10k this morning. This is the second year of this race. There’s a 5k, half and full as well as the 10k, all run at the same. Because of the potential for warmth the races all start at 6:30 am, hence the early rising time.

My training has been going really well, and I ran a really good 10k back in January so I was optimistic about this race. The temps were perfect, mid 50’s at the start, not much wind. The course was almost perfectly flat.

I got to St. Pete around 5:50, had no trouble parking, and was soon in line at the porta potties as usual. Even though it was only a 10k my stomach was still tied up in knots and I was eating Pepto Bismol like crazy trying to calm it down, it was really in revolt this time. I was a little afraid that my string of luck was going to break and I would be searching for a bathroom mid race but as usual I was fine once the race started. Every time though, it’s crazy.

It was a really beautiful course, along the Tampa Bay waterfront in St. Pete. We started in total darkness with a full moon overhead, ran as the sun rise shone brilliant pinks across the water, and ended in blue skies and sun. For the 10k at least the temps stayed in the high 50’s throughout the race.

I wanted to try to PR this race. To do that I needed to run better than 10:36 mpm. I made one stupid mistake and that blew my shot. GPS watches are not 100% accurate on race courses even if the signal is always good, because it is impossible to run the perfect route if a course has any turns, which this one did. The solution to this is to not use automatic lapping, but instead hit the lap button as you pass the course mile markers. But I forgot and left my watch on automatic. This made me think I was doing better than I really was so at points where I would have otherwise pushed myself a little I relaxed. It’s such a dumb mistake, I know better! But that extra tenth of a mile meant that my time ended up being 1:06:45. Not a PR. I now have around 4 races close between 1:05:50 and 1:07. Sigh.

Toward the end of the race I catch up to an older guy. We run along side each other for a few strides. “Let’s pace each other,” I suggest. He says, “this is all I’ve got, I’m afraid.” “Me too,” I say kindly, but in a few more strides I blow past him. Boom! I’m so competitive sometimes!

Well at least I got 3rd place in my division. This race gives out awards in a little ceremony so I decided to stick around for that. But first they were running late, and then they started with the 5k awards. 3 deep, overall, masters, grandmaster, and 5 year age groups both men and women, starting with 9 and under and going up to 80+! I went to my car and got my sweatshirt, when I came back they were still doing 5k awards. I went to the bathroom, came back and they were just finishing up. Then they decided to take a little break. I got some food, I waited a little more, and then I left. That was just ridiculous. I generally like it when races actually recognize the winners, but this was going to go on all day. It took over an hour to announce all the 5k winners and I was tired, hungry and cold. I went home.

One thing that was a good reminder for me at this race. While waiting around for the 10k results I talked to a couple of older women. One woman was the winner in my age group. She ran it in 58 minutes, a time I can hardly even dream about. She was ok with her results but not particularly excited. I think it was a pretty average time for her. The other woman that I talked to for awhile was in the 55-59 year age group. She ran it in 1:15, a time that would have horrified and depressed me. But she was happy with her place and time; it was a good showing for her. 

It just drove home the point that we are all so very different. I sometimes feel like it’s just stupid of me to care so much about how I place in races. But there is no point in comparing myself to the younger women (and some older women too) that regularly beat me at any distance. I am only competing against myself, me at this particular time and place. If I am unhappy with my results it’s up to me to figure out what went wrong and set it straight if I can, and if I can’t, make my peace with whatever happened and perhaps reevaluate my goals.

So I can see I still have plenty of work to do in the 10k department. I like the distance but it’s never a major goal for me. I use it as a marker to see where my fitness is at and to see if my marathon goals seem reachable. In that respect it was a good race. My next 10k is the Skyway Bridge at the beginning of March. Doubt that there is any chance of a PR there, since it involves going up a ginormous hill before we get to the other side of the bridge and go back down. There will be some great views, however!

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