Tagged: 10K

Seki 10K Race Recap

On Sunday, I ran my second 10K race of the year, one month after setting a surprising 40:40 PB in Kani.

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I originally hoped to challenge that PB because the course wasn’t nearly as hilly, and I was coming off the back of a strong half-marathon three weeks earlier.

My expectations fell somewhat when I got bad hay fever and the forecast predicted a warm day, over 10 degrees higher than we had in Kani. Still, I held out a glimmer of hope and ran as hard as I could.

What went wrong

Firstly, I forgot my wallet. That meant I didn’t have a pre-race drink, other than a small bottle of an unknown Japanese energy drink. I was also without my usual tuna rice ball. All I had was a banana and a vitamin jelly a friend gave me. I was parched before the race even started.

I then made the mistake of going out too hard. The first couple of kilometers were downhill and I started near the front so I was pulled along at around 3:50/km pace out of the gate. This happens to me often with downhill starts, and this time I paid for it. When the road evened out there was a huge gap in front of me. I must have been 80m behind the guy in front and the gap was widening. I’d much rather be sitting on someone’s shoulder than running on my own.

A few guys went past me, but I had already used my turbo boost at the start and wasn’t able to go with them. Instead, it was a bit disheartening to have so little to give so early in the race. The water station at 6km was a welcome sight and a mouthful of water made a big difference. I felt more in control and ran well for a bit before a long uphill drained me of my new found energy.

By this stage, I was zigzagging, trying to find holes in the large groups of tail-enders running the half-marathon, who had started 15 minutes before us. Had I been on target for a PB I would have been cursing the race schedule. It should have been obvious to the planners that the fastest 10K runners would catch up and have to run through the slowest half-marathoners, sharing a single lane!

I did get through, though, and battled with all I had left up the last hill to the race track where we started. Unlike the previous year where I got a big high five from Olympic gold medalist and former world-record holder Naoko Takahashi, she was busy cheering on the kids doing the 3K. When she saw me, arm out-stretched, she reached and our fingertips touched just before I crossed the line. It was rather symbolic of my race – close, but not close enough.

I finished in 42:19, my fourth best time for a 10K. I did learn some lessons that should help in next week’s half-marathon, but I’ll save them for another blog post.

Kani Hana Festa 10K: How I Set a Personal Best

I broke my PB, smashed it actually, but how could I knock 1:21 off my previous best when I’ve spent most of the last four months struggling with knee problems and using the couch to 10K program to rehabilitate myself?

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I have some theories. My 10K PB until this race was 42:01, which I managed in March 2011. At that time, running was all I did and a half-marathon was my longest race. A lot has happened since then.

I bought a mountain bike and spent whole days cycling around Gifu. I learned to swim and went to the pool every week. I started hiking and trail running. The mountains here in Gifu and around Mino are beautiful and I’m sure the steep climbs have done wonders for my leg strength, stability and endurance.

All this, plus running my first marathon and completing a homemade half-Ironman triathlon has helped my mind and body adapt to stress and long-periods of sustained activity. So even though my workouts were less intense over the winter because of IT band syndrome and whatnot, I think I still had a good base to push for a 10K PB. The cold weather and my new, super fast running shoes might have helped a bit, too.

Saying that, running a hilly course at a fast pace (for me!) is not a fun experience. My eyes glazed over, the Red Bull shaking around in my stomach made me feel a bit sick and my chest started to hurt towards the end. The thought of pulling out crossed my mind, but I’m glad I didn’t because when I saw that time of 40:40 I realized why it was so hard!

Next week I’m running the Inuyama Half-Marathon. My PB for the half is 1:31:54, which means I’ll be especially hard pressed to beat it, but I’ll set out with that intention!