Sunday, May 30, 2010

10k By The Bay

(Results) I almost didn't do this race. I was scheduled to give a math talk at the same time as the race start -- 10 am. However, this race presented such a perfect confluence of circumstances that my friends finally convinced me that I should re-schedule the talk and do the race. In particular, $200 was on the line and the majority of Rhode Island's fast women were out of town for the weekend -- Katie, Jackie, Michaela, Vicky, and Karen were all away -- leaving only Steph and Trish as likely competitors. So I went. My parents were here for the weekend, so they drove me down to Warwick.

I got there an hour and 15 minutes early, but they were already out of size small race shirts (and I was only #82 to sign up). We sat in the shade and I showed off my ability to identify my competition: My parents pointed out a pair of fit-looking women jogging across the grass and asked if I thought they would be fast. "They'll probably run 43 or 44 minutes," I predicted. My mom grumbled about this -- "I wonder if you would have looked at me before my 44-minute 10k and predicted me to run 48 or 49 minutes!" -- but in the end, only one of the two raced, and she finished in about 43:40, just as I predicted.

When I got to the line after warming up, I once again exhibited my poor prediction quality when it comes to masters-age runners (as I did at the Bedford Rotary 5k last weekend). There was a very skinny woman wearing just a sports bra and shorts. I was definitely worried, because she looked like she would be really fast (and if you had asked, I would have guessed her age to be 28). I whispered to Clay to see if he knew who she was, and he just said "gimme a break!" He turned out to be right...

The air horn went off and I found myself in about tenth place behind a bunch of guys. Over the course of the first half mile down the long driveway of the organization, I passed some overzealous men and soon found myself tucking in behind a pair of men. I sensed that I was not going 6-minute pace as I had planned, but decided to go with it. We passed the mile in 6:18 and I darted out from behind the guys and surged ahead. One of the guys laughed -- "I guess someone wasn't happy with that split!" -- and one, in a red singlet (in the results as Tom), came with me while the other stayed behind. I locked onto Tom's shoulder and hung on through two miles, with a second mile split of 6:28. He cut the tangents like a pro, and I was right there.

Somewhere in the third mile, Tom apparently decided he didn't want to run with me, and put in a surge, which I didn't cover, so he was maybe 50 feet ahead of me, a gap that stayed constant for the next few miles. At this point, two men were way ahead, Clay was maybe 100 meters ahead of me, and then Tom was 50 feet ahead of me. So Clay was in the money as third male, and I was in fifth place overall. Miles three and four were both around 6:30. Mile five slipped to 6:37, but this part of the course had many turns and it is possible that I didn't cut the tangents as closely as Ray did when he measured it. Anyway, it was hot and we were just winding our way among many turns in a housing development for most of miles four and five.

Just before the 5-mile mark, it got interesting. Clay, who had been running 6-minute pace, suddenly lost his speed and started coming back. I shouted ahead to him, to let him know that someone was coming to take away his third-place spot. But it was no use; Tom overtook him. But actually, I was getting closer too! By they time I passed Clay -- incredulously! -- the gap between me and Tom was about half as big as before. So I made my move and caught up to him and passed him right as we got back onto the driveway of the organization, with about a half mile to go.

I derive much inspiration from passing people and wanting to hold them off. Whereas I ran mile five in 6:37, I ran mile six in 6:20. I was quite happy to be third overall and I didn't want to see that disappear. Also, after passing six miles in 38:41, I thought I could probably dip under 40 minutes, which before the race would have seemed depressingly slow but now was looking pretty good. I kicked the last mile and down the hill to the finish line and managed to finish in 39:55 and third overall. Tom was 14 seconds back, all over the last half mile (and Clay was 30 seconds back). As it turns out, I was the only person under 40 years old in the top five, and the second female was two and a half minutes behind me, despite her weighing about half as much as I do.

I did a 4-mile cool down, part of it with Clay and his young daughter, so that I could count it as a "long run" and not have to try to squeeze in a long run on graduation day. The awards ceremony was successful, as I received cash and my parents were duly impressed that running had become so lucrative. $200 is the most I have ever won in a race, the previous being $175 ($50 for winning + $100 for course record + $25 gas card for double-dipping age division, last August). Unlike last year, this year the calculation (money won) - (money spent on entry fees) actually yields a positive number! But this will make up for the fall, when I do things like race at Franklin Park when dozens of very fast people show up and all I win from my entry fee is a fun race and a warm sense of well-being -- like in the half marathon, when I paid $50 and "all" I won was five minutes of fame, some good finishing pictures, an awesome story to tell the grandchildren, and a nice supply of happiness and glory that is still carrying me along.

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