Solstice Run 10K on Saturday, June 23, 2012 in Northville, MI.
My good friend JD and I ran a summer 10K together not too long ago. While the race itself was terrific, JD and I have some work to do in the future if we’re going to try to run another race together. But I’ll get to that in a moment.
Early on race-day morning, I woke up easily and went through my routine: washing up, sunscreen, running clothes, you know the drill. I ate something fast and easy for breakfast—probably toast with peanut butter and a big glass of water—and snuck outside for a few early morning photos. JD showed up around 6:30 AM and we headed over to Northville, which is a suburb of Detroit not too far from where my brother and his family live.
(Can I just take a moment to say how I am falling more and more in love with Michigan every time I return for a visit? I know part of it is the vacation effect because I usually take a break from my own work when I’m visiting family, but seeing Michigan through an adult’s eyes is quite different from my experience growing up in the area. The food, the fun we can have with the kids, the gorgeous summers and spectacular fall foliage…I miss the Midwest so much sometimes. I love Texas, especially my friends and my work, but I miss my family and sharing my days with them. I’m sure I will touch on these feelings more on my other blog, but boy do I feel torn between people and places. Thank goodness for plane tickets and a we-can-do-this attitude.)
JD and I arrived in Northville, and our race started promptly with three huge road hills in the first mile. The 10K had a lot of participants, and the start of the race was really crowded. We started out slowly, thinking that we would use the first mile to warm up, but the crowd made it difficult for us to settle into a decent warm-up pace—I felt itchy to get going, and JD and I played follow-the-leader a few times before I darted ahead of him…and that was the end of our running together.
A view of one of the hills in the first mile of our race. (Photo taken on the drive home after the race. We were not dodging cars during our 10K!)
I was certain that he was right behind me, and that I couldn’t see him through the crowd. I ran steady, easy, 10-minute miles for the first three miles, turning around occasionally to see if I could find him and resume our run together again. At the three-mile point, I started running sideways, very slowly, to give us a chance to find each other again…but JD was nowhere to be found. I jogged slowly for perhaps 30 seconds or a minute, hoping to see my buddy, but no dice. At that point, I had to decide if I was going to run the rest of the race looking for him or if I was going to race the last three miles. To be honest, I was ready to race. I wanted to race. Even if my final time wouldn’t reflect a real 10K race, I wanted to feel like I was flying. And so, I raced. It was hard and glorious and I pushed myself to finish strong. I clocked in at 56:09, so that meant:
3 miles at 10:00/mile
3.2 miles in 26:09 or a pace of approximately 8:11 per mile (or thereabouts. I double-checked my math, but 8:11 still seems fast to me…)
Assuming my math is correct, I am very happy that I was able to pull off 3.2 miles at 8:11 per mile. During my training for this 10K, I struggled to run my long runs in the Texas heat, and while I did a bit of speedwork in the week before the race, I wasn’t even planning to race the 10K. I was supposed to be running it with JD, at a pace that worked for both of us, but well—we failed to do that.
Why did we fail? I want to say it’s all my fault, but JD disagrees. We had talked about pace before the race: our plan was to warm up by running the first (hilly!) mile in about 11:00, and then we would settle into a 10-minute-mile pace. I had assumed that I would be happy to run at JD’s pace, whether that meant working hard to keep up with him or running a comfortable pace through the streets of Northville. But then three things happened that surprised us both.
One. We lost each other early and could not find one another again.
Two. It turns out that on a race day, I want to race. I feel compelled to race.
Three. JD was more tired than he realized until we hit those hills in mile one. He’s been running races all month, and we think that perhaps his legs were not well-rested for this race. Sometimes you just run out of steam—that’s true in running and in life.
I have hope that JD and I can run a race together in the future. We’ve done plenty of training runs together at a pace that felt right for both of us. My feeling is that we might even be able to (oh my gosh, I can’t believe I’m about to say this…) run our first marathons together. It’s a distance that JD wants to run some day, and I’ve just begun thinking about whether the marathon is something I might want to do…some day. Not now. Not this year. But maybe some day.
I’ll end by saying a few words about the Solstice Run 10K as an event. In a word, it was awesome. It was well-organized, took us through beautiful neighborhoods, had plenty of water stations and food at the end, and cheerful spectators. I like the 10K as a race distance and would love to do another one. Next time, I’ll be more focused on racing the full 10K.
Onward and upward, friends!