Since my next race is a 10K, I'm reposting this note from my Facebook page. Here's hoping my 10K (For Kids' Sake Race, Sept 24) goes better this time!
Notes on my first 10K: April 2, 2011
1) Make sure you show up ahead of time. This may seem obvious. I made the error of assuming that my 10K starting line was at the same place as my half-marathon starting line, since they were both in the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge. It was not. I forgot to bring a copy of our local running club magazine, which had the directions to the starting line in it, complete with GPS coordinates. I almost missed the start of the race because we took for granted that we knew where it was. The Refuge is huge though, and the miracle was that we found it just in time for Jon to drop me off and for me to run to the start/finish line.
2) Distractions are better left at home. During training runs, you have the leisure of thinking through problems and finding solutions. During a race though, you need focus and concentration. I was distracted by something that could have been huge--neither Jon nor I could find our checkbook, and neither of us could remember seeing it. I had visions of identify theft in my head. Turns out it was just misplaced. Turns out I could have concentrated better if I hadn't been distracted by that possible urgent situation.
3) A 10K is 6.2 miles. Your 10K race might be 6.3 or 6.4 miles. The source of my initial disappointment was seeing what I thought was an awful finish time (57:33) and thinking that was my time for 6.2. Turns out the race course was a bit off (I did not have my Garmin GPS watch turned on, but runners who did told me that the race course was a bit overlong. It makes a difference when you are expecting certain numbers and you get numbers that don't meet that expectation. Just to clarify, I'm not racing anyone but myself, and I was disappointed that this finish time was slower than my own practice runs. But my practice runs were on point at 6.2.
4) Decide if you are going to use music or not. Don't waffle. I waffled. I had my trusty SANSA Clip+ (product placement--hello! Sansa, send me free stuff) and headphones. But I was so discombobulated by showing up so close to race start time that I didn't turn it on. So the headphones (I use the over-the-head kind) became a liability, and I ended up carrying them in my right hand for the last two miles.
5) Expect hills. Unless the ad for the race/race flyer says "fast and flat," expect hills. Since this was partially the same course as the half-marathon I did in February, I don't know why I didn't remember that. The killer hill was the crest of mile 5 (during the half, I believe that same hill was between mile 7 and 8).
6) If you can't be good, look good. At least I was styling: pink technical wicking long sleeve shirt, black compression tights with dark pink racing stripes down each leg, and my trusty Asics (the same pair I used for the half).
7) Learn to grab that water cup!! Since I got to the race with only minutes to spare, I didn't get a drink in prior to running. I grabbed a cup at the first aid station; didn't at the second one. The second one was right before the killer mile 5 hill and I knew if I stopped to drink I would stop running. So I didn't get a second drink in. The first water cup I pretty much spilled on myself and only got a small sip of.
8) Make friends. I am still somewhat intimidated by the long-established runners in my community and get a little shy around them. But they are beginning to recognize me from these races, and they are always polite and interested in me as a runner.
9) Feel the disappointment and let it pass. That's what I'm working on right now, as I type this. I was convinced this was a horrible run (so many people passed me by; I couldn't figure out my "race pace;" I was thirsty, etc, etc). But later on I learned from a friend that I did get third in my age group. Since the race results have not been posted yet, I don't know how many were in that age group. I have to be proud of myself for getting a handle on my emotions (when we couldn't find the starting line, I was so upset I almost cried in the car), but I buckled down and ran the race. I could have bagged the whole thing, seeing that I was distracted and upset. But I'm working through it, and I'm looking forward to next week's 5K race. And because this was my first 10K, it's automatically my personal record (PR) at this distance.