Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Reston 10 Miler - March 2013

Reston 10 Miler

My first race of March was the Reston 10 Miler, which starts and finishes at South Lakes High School in Reston, VA.  This was my second time running this race, having previously run a 1:11:40 (and finished 3rd in my age group) back in March 2011.

Another flattering race photo

This is a great, low-key, local race if you are looking for a 10-miler, but don't feel like dealing with a lot of hassle (i.e. driving into DC, finding parking, having to go to a dumb race expo to pick up your bib number the day before, large crowds, corrals, etc.).  The race is only about 10 or 15 minutes away from my house, so I was basically able to roll out of bed about 1:30 before the race started, and still got there in plenty of time to warm-up and make it to the start line. The only bad thing about the race, is that it is very hilly, and therefore not a fast course (see Elevation Map below).  There are much faster courses (Cherry Blossom, GW Parkway 10 Miler, etc.) if you are looking for a PR.
Reston 10 Miler Course Elevation Map

The registration is $35, which is pretty fair for a 10 mile race, and you also get a Nike dri-fit shirt and a finisher's medal.  The shirts were nice, but personally I think they should just save their money on those medals.  I don't think anything shorter than a half-marathon (or maybe even a full marathon) really requires a finisher's medal.  I even got a finisher medal for a 5k one time at the Arlington 911 5k!  A medal for a 5k? Really?!

Reston 10 Miler shirt and finisher medal

 My primary focus right now is on the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in April, so the Reston 10 Miler was really more of a tune-up race for me.  Still, I did run it at pretty close to maximum effort - I would say at least 90% effort - but I definitely felt like I could have shaved another minute off my finishing time pretty easily if I had wanted to do so.  The main disadvantage for me was that I did not taper at all for this race.  Because it was not a key race for me, I simply trained straight through it.  I did not cut back my mileage at all, and I also ran a tough VO2 Max workout (4x1200) on Wednesday before the race. When you run as many races as I do, you can't taper for all of them, or else you would never get any serious training done.  You just have to train through some races, and then focus on the important ones where you want to go for a PR.  The week of Cherry Blossom, I plan on taking it much easier, and going into that race well-rested, and ready to perform at a high level. 

It was extremely cold on race morning.  It was 30 degrees, but very windy.  The "feels like" temperature was 18 degrees!  I struggled a lot with deciding what to wear before the race.  I generally always like to wear shorts in a race, but 18 degrees convinced me to wear tights under my shorts too.  I wore an Under Armour mock neck shirt on my upper body, with a short sleeve dri-fit shirt over top of that, just to help cut the wind a little bit.  I also started the race with a fleece hat and thin cotton gloves.  One good thing about this course is that it loops back by the school around the 6 mile mark, so you can toss unwanted clothing here and easily retrieve it at the end of the race.  I thought I might have been kind of a "wuss" by dressing so warm for a race, but I actually felt really comfortable with my outfit the entire way.  Not too cold and not too hot....just right.  I did toss my hat aside at the 6 mile point, but decided to keep the gloves.

I started out with a 6:21 mile.  I was kind of surprised at how many people were running ahead of me during the first mile, but I figured a lot of them were just going out too fast, and would crash and burn later, probably around mile 4 or 5.  However, my hypothesis turned out to be wrong.  I actually only ended up passing about 5 or 6 people after the first mile, and 3 of those came during the final mile.  I wasn't accounting for the fact that the race was much larger and much more competitive than when I had run it just a couple years ago.

I was pretty happy with how I ran the rest of the race.  I stayed pretty steady, although I had a couple of slower miles when running uphill, into the wind, or sometimes both. Here were my mile times:

1 -  6:21
2 -  6:36
3 -  6:33
4 -  7:03  (uphill and into the wind)
5 -  6:24
6 -  6:30
7 -  6:57 (uphill and into the wind)
8 -  6:48
9 -  6:26
10 - 6:02 (Wow!)

I was really happy with my 6:02 last mile!  Around the 8.5 mile mark, I heard someone coming up behind me.  I felt pretty strong at that point, so I figured I would pick it up and try to hold him off.  He passed me momentarily around the 9 mile mark, but I still had a lot left in the tank, so I decided to really go after it on the final mile.  Not only did I hold off the guy who tried to pass me, but I also passed two additional runners before the finish  I really enjoy this race's finish too.  You run into South Lakes' football stadium, and onto the track for about 3/4 of a lap to the finish line.  It kind of feels like you are running the Olympic Marathon, and entering the stadium for the big finish with thousands of fans cheering you on.  Except no one there is actually an Olympian, and there are only maybe 100 people cheering.  But these are minor details.
The exciting finish on the track! Looks
like my 6:02 closing mile tired me out.

I finished in 1:05:43 (6:34/mile pace), taking 35th place overall out of about 1,100 runners. (Reston 10 Miler Results!)  I did not win an age group award this year.  The race has grown exponentially over the past couple years.  When I ran it last in 2011, there were only about 250 runners, and my 1:11:40 was good enough for 28th place overall and 3rd place in my age group.  This year, even though I ran 6 MINUTES faster, I was only 35th overall and 6th place in my age group.  But this makes sense, given that there were about 900 more runners to compete against this time. My wife made a big improvement too, setting a new 10 mile PR by about 5 minutes!

This race made me feel good about the upcoming Cherry Blossom 10 Miler.  Back in 2011, I ran Reston in 1:11, and then ran Cherry Blossom in 1:08 just a few weeks later.  So, based on that, I should be able to knock at least a couple minutes off this year's Reston time when I race Cherry Blossom in April.  My goal is to beat my 10 mile PR from last year of 1:03:19 (6:19/mile pace). It will be tough, but I think I can do it!

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