There I am, standing at the starting line, sore, tired and with a whole bunch of other things in my mind other than this race. It was the second time in as many days I wake up way earlier than usual. The day before was for a long run (woke up at 3:30 am!) that had to be cut a bit short and this particular morning for this race, which had a start time of 6:30 am (4:30 am alarm). This type of thing might not sound very motivational but at the very least, it lets me know I have grown to love running. I that wasn't true, I wouldn't bother with all of this.
When I signed up for this race, I didn't realize I would be smack in the middle of the peak of my marathon training plan. Having said that, I decided to run it anyway. The race is organized by the family of Mayra Elias; a runner who two years ago got run over along with several other runners while on their morning training. The driver fled the scene and the case caused a big splash on the news. Mayra was nearly killed but managed to survive. Her story brought a lot of consciousness not only to the importance of runner safety but also the importance of citizens cooperating with the police to solve cases: The driver was later caught thanks to people who called to report they had seen where he had hidden the vehicle.
This race is now held to raise money for Mayra's health care costs which are many (she is still in a wheelchair but her prognosis seems to be promising) and raise awareness about runner safety. I met Mayra during the Diva's Half-Marathon Expo and she handed me the registration form herself and I promised I would run it. After finding out I would be doing a 14 miles long run (which was cut short to 12 miles for other reasons) I figured if I wasn't feeling too bad I would run it. Not running it might have meant breaking the promise but I already had signed up and paid so if I didn't run, at least I had put my little grain of sand but it didn't come to that.
During the the long run, I got a call from my wife that my mother confirmed she could take the girls so we could go "talk to Santa". Well, say no more! I'm sure busy parents (with busy grandparents or similar situations) can relate with this. This was the window and had to take it so 12 miles it was. It's not like I missed the two miles too much. I went straight from the shower to a busy mall walking around like crazy so I probably made up for it there. However, even with that, I managed to wake up the next day feeling well enough to go run.
As the gun went off, I was not harboring any delusions of grandeur or anything. It had been a tough week (and weekend) and aiming for a PR was certainly stupid. On the other hand, I had not run a 10K since the end of February. A lot has happened since then so assuming I could finish the race, all I had to do was run at a decent pace and a PR was kind of a given. Notice I said finish the race. The course has become familiar by now. I have run several 5K's in this area of San Juan and most of this particular course is the same as the first section of the Diva's Half-Marathon. I'm trying to ignore Mr. Garmin for the most part as to not obsess over my pace and just run but after hearing it beep at mile 2, I instinctively glanced and saw a 12. A 12?!! Can't be. I'm feeling pretty good and not fatigued so I can't be running 12's. I blamed the number on a downhill section I had passed and kept ignoring Mr. Garmin.
Halfway through mile 4, my body finally decided it was not gonna take any more crap from me. "Race pace? Really? Today? Slow down pal!" My body seemed to say to me. From then on I took a couple of walk breaks here and there until the last half mile where everything went crazy. The police had allowed traffic on the course and were fighting between letting runners go by or letting cars pass. It was pretty scary. I almost got run over. I found it extremely ironic that something like this would happen on a race promoting runner safety but there you go.
After dodging buses and cars for several minutes came the last part which had no traffic (thank goodness!) as it's the entrance to a stadium. That's when I noticed the second major flaw in the race: The course was too long. Way too long. I stopped Mr. Garmin at 6.2 miles but a friend who ran the race and kept her watch on the whole way measured a bit over 6.5. I know these things cannot be perfect but that seems like a lot to go over. The good news is that they had plenty of oranges, bananas, water and Gatorade to go around several times. And the Gatorade was nice and cold too.
I could be harsh about the things that went wrong regarding the organizing and logistics of this race but the fact is that this is a bunch of family and friends of Mayra Elias trying to raise awareness and put together a very hard event to pull off. They are not pros and if they keep at it, they will get better. Ultimately, they are trying to do a good thing and overall I have to commend them for it.
What? You want to know my time? Oh yeah... that. World's Best 10K: 1:37:53
This race? 1:22:51. 15 minutes less than my previous race. It was kind of crazy.
This is not a matter of starting too fast. I just ran too fast the whole way. I ran 12's all the way to mile 3, then a 13 minute flat mile 4, then, after taking the walk breaks, I slowed to the 14's which is my "normal" pace for runs of 4 to 6 miles. Crazy. When I run the World's Best 10K again in February, this is gonna be hard to top.
You would think after all that, that I finally got some rest after getting back home. Well, no rest for wicked here. If I didn't put up the Christmas tree at home, my daughters could very well go on strike. So home I went and here you go!