Pike's Peek 10k - Rockville, MD
|Yes, we'll take two 10k PRs, please. Thank you!|
Before I get into the race details, I do want to briefly explain the race name, since I sadly only figured it out a couple of weeks ago myself. When people hear "Pike's Peek 10k", their first instinct is generally that the race is in Colorado, which clearly it is not. 'Pike' here refers to Rockville Pike. And 'Peek' - not Peak - refers to the fact that you are peeking (looking) at Rockville Pike as you run. Very clever name. Not exactly rocket science, but seriously, it took me way longer than it should have to figure it out, and I just wanted to save you the trouble.
The race begins on Redland Blvd., right near the Shady Grove Metro station in Maryland. You run on Redland Blvd. for about a quarter of a mile, and then make a left turn onto Rockville Pike, which you take all the way to the finish line near the White Flint Mall. This is a nice advantage, because with long straightaways, you can really build up some speed. Races with many turns tend to be slower, as they break your rhythm and momentum.
The race also features a 140-ish foot net elevation drop from start to finish (although the race website advertises a 190 ft drop). So, basically, you are running down a 14 story building over the course of the 6.2 miles. There are actually a couple of uphills along the way too, but the downhills render them nearly irrelevant. So, between the long straightaway and the huge elevation drop, you can see why this course is a runner's dream.
|Pike's Peek 10k elevation map - enjoy the ride!|
One of my goals for this spring was to break 38 minutes for a 10k, and to set a new 10k PR. My previous race PR had been a 37:55 all the way back in my senior year of high school. I also ran a 37:49 this past fall, but it was just by myself and not in a race. Most of my 10k races over the past year have been in the mid-38s, so I was looking to finally break through and PR in this race.
We had nice weather for the race. High 30s and sunny at the start. It was a "warm 39 degrees" if there is any such thing. There was minimal wind, which played almost no factor during the race. This was a welcome relief after a brutal windy stretch through Hains Point in the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler a couple weeks ago.
I was aware of the downhills, but still didn't want to go too crazy at the beginning. I was looking to dole my effort out consistently over the course, not just run 5:30s in the beginning and then try to "hang on" at the end. My first mile was a 5:50, which was basically exactly what I wanted to do. The second mile, I backed off a little and ran a 6:00, and still felt good. My third mile was a 6:02, and when I crossed the 5k mark around 18:30, I knew that I would break 38:00 as long as I didn't totally melt down in the second half. I stayed strong in the 4th mile with a 6:02, although the largest uphill on the course is during this mile. I was starting to tire out a bit during the 5th mile, and slowed down to a 6:08. On the final mile, I was really starting to feel it. I also figured that I had a PR wrapped up, so I slowed down even more to a 6:13. Luckily there was pretty steep downhill at the very end, so I ran the final 0.23 miles at a blazing 5:33/mile pace. I finished in 37:33 (6:02/mile pace), setting a new 10k PR! I finished 98th place out of about 2,500 runners. (Pike's Peek 10k Results) No awards for me today, as this was a VERY competitive race at the top of the field. Lots of Kenyans and elite runners. Just to finish 3rd place in my age group, I would have actually needed to run a 29:37!! A new 10k PR would just have to do for my award - which I was more than OK with! Here were my mile splits for the race:
1 - 5:50
2 - 6:04
3 - 6:00
4 - 6:02
5 - 6:08
6 - 6:13
last 0.23 - 1:16 (5:33 pace)
After the race, I met up with my wife who annihilated her old PR by about 6 minutes! We also met up with one of my college buddies from Syracuse (Go Orange!) and his "buddy", and all we went out for breakfast at The Original Pancake House in Rockville. Awesome spot for breakfast if you ever happen to be in the area - and hungry.
So, it was a great day. I was thrilled to set a new PR! After all, those don't happen every day. Especially when you consider that my previous 10k race PR had lasted for 17 years. It is pretty cool that I ran faster today than I did when I was a teenager. It also felt great to achieve one of my goals for the spring - breaking 38 minutes. I would still like to run some more 10ks - either this spring or perhaps in the fall, and see if I can consistently run in the 37s now. Obviously this course was very favorable, so it would be interesting to see if I could run a similar time on a more neutral course too.
|Pike's Peek 10k duffel bag. A welcome respite from race t-shirts!|
Overall, the Pike's Peek 10k was an excellent, well-organized race which I would recommend to anyone.