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Race Report: HOT Run 10K

Last night, I raced for the first time since July. A month or so ago, Tim said he was signing up for this 10k race put on by local race director Chris Lauber, and asked if I wanted him to sign me up, too. Sure, I said. (Some six-mile race over a month away? No problem.) The race was the HOT Run 5K and 10K, sponsored by the radio station HOT 101.5. It was out at Pass-A-Grille Beach, on a Thursday evening. This made it rather stressful to get to after work, but even in the hours leading up to the race, I was thinking, I'm just going to treat this as a training run. No pressure for time. But that never works. I even left my watch in my car, so I wouldn't be obsessed with looking at my pace--but also because it was raining lightly.

The course was a 1.55-mile loop; 5k racers would run it twice, and 10k-racers would run it FOUR times (I love running in circles!). The 5k group had a four minute lead on our group. This further meant that the time clock would display the time based on when the 5k group started (this will be significant later). As soon as the starting horn went off for our group, I was in race mode. It's unavoidable. I was instantly trying to push my way past those runner who really did seem to be taking it lightly; I suddenly had no time for that. The first lap felt like a 5k in itself. Without my watch, I had no idea how fast I was running, but it felt extremely uncomfortable, so I know it was fast, for me. And while I know I wasn't able to maintain that level exertion for the remaining three laps, I didn't back down. I never allowed myself to let go of the push, and I could feel that I picked up my pace in the final mile. I know what that feels like now; I've been practicing it during training runs. In fact, I did my final push a bit too early. I kept thinking I'd see finishing chute just around the corner; okay, the next corner; no wait, it's the next. When I finally did get to that chute, I made sure to look at the clock, as I usually fail to do that. It said 58:35. So I'm thinking, 58:35 minus the four-minute time gap from the 5k start would be around 54 and a half; not bad.

After taking a few minutes afterward to recover from near-hyperventilation from my too-long final push, I celebrated with Tim and some other friends. We had some drinks and food. We were in good spirits. Then we went to look at the results, which had been printed out and posted. The entries were arranged by time, so I was looking for my name around 54 minutes or so, and I wasn't seeing it. After looking farther and farther down the list, I saw my name and official time:

From coolruning.com.

57:44. Hmph. That couldn't be right. (This would've been a great time to consult my watch time; but alas, I didn't have one.) Tim's results were higher than he thought, too (he, too, ran without his own timing device). Even a stranger commented to us that the times seemed slower than they should be, and we readily agreed. We just couldn't figure it out. My posted time would suggest that there was less than a one-minute delay from the start of the 5k to the start of the 10k, and I know that wasn't the case. Not only did they tell us four minutes, but it felt like at least four minutes. Tim and I left in grumpy moods (one of us a more grumpy than the other--not saying who).

One cool thing that came out of this race is the medal:


I don't like to complain about races--and other than the timing, I think it was a good race (if you don't mind running in four loops). But the timing aspect is kind of important, and the numbers just aren't adding up. We'll likely never know if something went wrong with the timing, or if we were both just slower than we thought. We have, after all, been logging lots of long miles in marathon training, and our emphasis has not been on pace. But it sure as hell felt like I ran faster. And one thing's for sure: we'll both be sure to wear our own timing devices in future races--rain or no rain. This "not knowing" stuff is frustrating. I'm still glad I did the race, in the end. I needed to race at least once during training, and I need to remember what it feels like to truly push. Duly noted.

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