Monday, June 5, 2017

Run For the Animals 2017 Race Recap

As I mentioned in my previous post - I was uncertain how I would fare at this year's edition of the Run For the Animals 10k. I had put in about 33% less miles going into the race than I had last year, but I was optimistic that I had retained my fitness from the Shamrock Shuffle in April. If this was the case then a 37:59 10k was in my sights if the weather was favorable.

After a 5 a.m. shakeout run of two miles in the city, I jumped in my car and headed out to the 'burbs. My dad had picked up my bib along with his bib (for the 5k) earlier in the week, so I met up with him at his house, put on said bib, and we headed over to the race in downtown Wheaton. On our way to the start area I bumped into Zoe and we said hi for a moment. After reaching the start area, I again spotted Zoe lined up about 10 rows back. She was running the 5k and she also mentioned that she was going to run the Pike's Peak Half later in the summer. After a lovely chat the national anthem was sung. I could feel the sun beating down on us as we listened to the anthem. This race traditionally has pretty warm weather and Saturday was no exception. I went over my pacing strategy in my head:

Miles 1 through 3: 6:20, 6:10, 6:05
Miles 2 through 6.2: 6:00, 6:00, 6:00, 6:00

Running those paces would get me right about to a 37:59. I felt this was realistic especially since I ran 5 miles at the Shamrock Shuffle at just around 6:00 mile.

After the anthem, the horn sounded and we were off!

The Race
Mile 1: This was a dual 5k and 10k, so I started a little ways back. I'd forgotten that this mile had a gradual downhill for the first half mile, so I was running just slightly faster than plan. I felt okay to start, but once I sped up to pass a couple of runners I began to feel a little off. 6:13/mile.

Start of the Run for the Animals. I'm in the neon hat and shirt.
Mile 2: I waited for things to feel better, but I began having the feeling that this was not going to be my day. I shouldn't have felt like I was forcing things this early, but I was. It's not that my legs were leaden, but I just didn't feel 100%. Maybe it was the heat, but it actually hadn't gotten too hot out at that point. So, despite not knowing the exact reason I couldn't get going properly, I sadly had to admit to myself that I needed to back off lest I crash and burn during the second half. My goal finish time would be out the window and my new plan would be to find a new, slower maximum pace that I could finish the race at. 6:10/mile.

Mile 3: I started to gradually slow down and right after the mile 2 marker, a guy running next to me said, "one more mile!" to which I replied, "four more miles"! We both had a laugh and then soon parted ways as he headed for the 5k finish line and I continued on the 10k course. 6:16/mile.

Mile 4: I realized that the only person left on the 10k course that I could see was a guy about 30 seconds ahead of me who appeared to be in my age group (spoiler alert: He was). 6:20/mile.

Mile 5: The second half of the 10k course is cool because it contains a mile or so loop around a nice little lake. I closed the gap between the guy ahead of me to about 20 seconds, but things were a struggle. I even slowed way down during a water stop to try and reset myself, which seemed to help a little and I started up at a slightly faster pace. 6:17/mile.

Mile 6: For the final full mile the course heads on a very gradual uphill, which helps to kill most momentum and really made me work when I didn't have the will or the energy to do so. The only thing that was keeping me motivated was to keep contact with the guy in front of me. 6:28/mile.

Mile 6.2: For the last two tenths, the road finally flattened and I used every ounce of my dwindled reserves to try and catch the guy ahead of me since he was likely in my age group. He sped up as well and I had nothing to respond with. Soon enough, I saw him hit the finish line 8 seconds ahead of me. 5:32/mile.
Finish line from 2016!
Race Summary: 
  • Official Time: 38:48 Official pace: 6:16/mile
  • Overall Place: 16th out of 484
  • Age Place: 3rd out of 25 
  • Third fastest 10k ever (out of 24 races)
I was completed gassed and stumbled over to a tree and layed down on my back in the grass to catch my breath. I hadn't felt this winded after a race in a couple of years. It really was a monumental effort just to hold the slower pace I had relegated myself to during mile 2.

My sister and her kids came over and congratulated me (and asked me if I was okay) since I probably looked pretty wiped out laying on the ground and all!

Soon enough, my dad made his way over from the 5k finish line and we went over to the kids race to watch my niece compete in the half miler. After her strong finish, we went to the after party where I got my free Sam Adams. I took a couple of refreshing sips and checked the posted results on the big leaderboard. Two younger guys also looking at the results noticed that eyes were scanning near the top of the leaderboard. They then started peppering me with questions about how I got so fast! Talk about a boost for my morale! I guess that put things in perspective: I had what I considered a disappointing day, yet guys 10 years younger than me were astonished at my pace. I guess I might be too hard on myself this year since I had such a stellar year of training last year and subconsciously think that I should be near that level this year. I still had a good race. Not everyday goes as planned I can't really have similar expectations like last year. I'm not doing huge mileage volumes now, so I can't expect to feel the same way I did when I was.

Anyway, we all headed over to breakfast at a nearby diner. After breakfast, my dad walked back to the awards ceremony and got both of our medals. My dad got 2nd place in his AG!

Race Takeaway:
It was a tough and disappointing race since I finished almost a minute slower than goal and almost two minutes slower than the PR I set there last year. It also sapped a lot of energy out of me early on, and I was riding the struggle bus most of the race. It was just one of those days when things didn't click and I had to gut it out. Perhaps I am a handful of miles per week short of a breakthrough, or maybe it would be best to just maintain my mileage and see if a base of more weeks at the same mileage will pay off better in the long run? In any case, this is a recovery week so I'm going to do low miles and some swimming!

 BTW, next year the race will be on my birthday and I will be the youngest runner in my new AG!

Next up:
Grim Mile on 6/4!


  1. Congrats on your race, man! My eyes popped out of my head when I read you wanted a 27 minute 10k ;) and hey, you sis the Grim Mile after all! Can't wait to read about it. I just wrote my RR for a 10k I just ran, and wow....I think 10ks are really freaking tough. I find it such a calculated distance and one that is hard to get a feel for. I'm impressed you've run so many! I would be surprised if I've run 10 in the last 10 years!! Anyway, good for you for honing your mental toughness in the wake of a challenging race. Hopefully you felt better at the mile. Inspiring as always, friend!

    1. It's a challenging distance as you can't just try and "ignore the pain" like you can in a 5k. Unlike a 5k which is over so quickly, the pain has enough time to catch up with you - therefore you have to "respect the distance" and be hyper aware during the first 5k how fast you can realistically run and not flame out in the second 5k. miles. 10ks used to be the "normal" street race distance until 5ks took over the world about 10 to 15 years ago. So whenever I run one I feel like I'm paying tribute to our running forefathers! Thanks! :)

  2. Wow, at first I was like 27:59? but then I saw your finish time I figured it out...Great job pushing through a tough race. It was pretty humid on Sunday and we really haven't been able to train in those conditions at all--pretty sure that made it tough for you. Way to tough it out.

    1. Thanks. Yes, if I had had a couple of weeks training in the warmer temps things might have been a little different. Thanks!

  3. Congrats on your third fastest 10K! I think that still says a lot, despite being on the struggle bus. And seriously, it's okay to partially blame the weather on this one. This was our first humid & muggy weekend and we were all in for a shock! That being said, I know what you mean about wanting this year to be as awesome as last year. That was me, last year... but also not running as much or doing as much as I was the year before! LOL.

    Love that those younger guys said that to you! I hope you gave them some good tips ;)

    1. Thanks! Okay, I think I will blame the weather on that one. My shirt was pretty soaked at the finish, which hasn't happened in quite awhile! Yes, mentally I need to just chill and realize that this is not a PR year! My main tip was for them to gradually increase their weekly mileage volume. I know - shocking ground-breaking revelations! :)

  4. Congrats on a great time even if it wasn't what you wanted! I think it's definitely because of the hot and humid temps. Our bodies are still getting acclimated.

    1. Thanks Sara! I will blame the weather (too a certain extent)! :)

  5. Congrats on running your best even when it wasn't your day! Still an impressive time and I can't believe it was only good enough for 3rd in age group (still impressive!)! Btw, I love running near water, ponds, lakes, etc.

    1. Thanks Amanda. Yes, my AG is pretty fast. I missed second place by nine seconds. Oh well! :)

  6. Congrats to you and your dad! Don't be so hard on yourself. And yes how great that those guys were asking you about your speed. Great job!!!