My goals were varied but a lot clearer than for other races.
A) To break 1:20:00. This could amount to a lot of wishful thinking. A lot of things were gonna have to go right for this to happen but I have been running pretty strongly lately so who knows.
B) To PR: My best 10K was last December. To break it I would have to do better than 1:22:51. This, I felt was doable. I was forced to take several walk breaks the last 2 miles of that 10K so if I managed to run the whole thing, a PR was definitely in the cards.
C) To finish somewhere near my best 10K time: Safety net obviously. I was having doubts about having done enough for this race. If I wasn't feeling it, I could very well take this easy. I just ran a marathon a month ago you know?
It didn't help that on Friday I went through the worst packet pick-up and expo ever. I will vent my frustration about that in a separate post but the end result of that little fiasco was me being pushed from Corral #3 to the very last one. Not exactly PR friendly.
Even with a grumpy cloud hovering around me it wasn't all bad. I did get to meet Jared Fogle. Yes, the Subway guy. He came all the way here to do this 10K. He says that he gets recognized more often here in Puerto Rico than in U.S. Considering that this island is merely 35 miles North to South and 100 miles across, yet there are well over 200 Subways, that information shouldn't be too surprising.
Yes, the guy lost a whole bunch of weight. In my opinion though, the impressive thing is how he has managed to keep it off for so many years. Really inspiring.
Anyway,back to the race. I was supposed to run into some friends but they were in Corral 3 and I didn't get to meet them in time. They called and we decided to meet after the race. It's not like I was gonna keep up anyway. Frankie had no intention of being relaxed. He was gunning for a sub-60 minute race. Gilbert was having trouble with a knee but he was thinking 1:08-ish so maybe it wasn't a bad idea to start apart.
Living up to it's reputation as Puerto Rico's biggest race, the start line was packed. Early on people were jockeying for good position. However just like last year, the race was pretty well organized so there no major problems. When I got to the corral I saw the 1:20 pace group and decided to stick with them. It seemed like a good idea. Since taking off too fast has always been a problem, having someone else keep the pace for me might actually help to PR in this race so I found a spot behind them and waited until the gun went off.
It took ten minutes to get to the start line and just as I feared, it was a total mess. The pacers were zig-zagging around walkers just trying to find a spot and the people following them were having a hard time staying with them, including myself. Every time I seemed to find a groove next to or behind the pacers, we would have to break formation and start over. They were running at a pretty comfortable pace. The problem was staying together in the crowd. Some time after the first mile I took my eyes off them for a moment and lost them. I didn't want to either stop or look back in the sea of people for fear of getting trampled so I kept going until I found one of the runners who was in the pace group and when he saw me he started running with me. I figured he was trying to keep the 1:20 pace so if the pacers disappeared, I might as well follow him right? Well, it seems he was following me. Not the other way around which was a horrendous idea. He kept getting separated from me and coming back, then getting ahead of me and coming back, then falling behind and coming back. Not the most reliable rabbit if you ask me but that was pretty much the dynamic for the first half of the race. Finally, after the 5K marker, he started walking and I didn't see him again. Hope he made it.
About a mile later, the frantic pace and constant zig-zagging caught up with me and I started to fade. I tried to keep running but as we reached the "hump" on the road that takes you to the final leg of the race I had to walk. A couple of minutes later, I was passed by the pacers. Crap. I did it again. I was running too fast and burned out. I ran/walked the final leg of the race mumbling not so very nice things under my breath and tried to pick it up the final half mile but the damage was done. Official time: 1:24:01
Last year, I did this race in 1:37:51 so in a way, this was a success I guess. That's over 12 minutes of improvement but the reality is, I wasn't measuring this race against last year's time. I was measuring it against my PR. and I fell short. The fact that I finished so close to my PR despite all the walking shows just how much above pace I was. I only accomplished my C goal so I guess I will grade my performance based on that. So C- for me this day.
So up next, is the Puerto Rico Half-Marathon. Needless to say, I got a lot of work to do. I'm not looking for a PR on that one but still I got to get my stuff together and practice longer distances at faster paces.