I’ve done 5ks.
I’ve done half marathons – lots of them.
I’ve done marathons.
But somehow, the 10k has alluded me these last two years of running. For some pretty silly reasons too.
First, they’re just not as common, so the opportunity hasn’t presented itself as readily as other, longer races. “Why do a 10k, when I can get a heavier, swankier half marathon finishers medal?”
Ok, if that sound like B.S. – you’re right. It is.
Here’s the real reason I was a 10k virgin until yesterday – I’m a BIG FAT WUSS.
See, with the 5k I know what I’m getting into. In the world of long distance running (it’s all about perspective here) the 5k is virtually a sprint. I run 3 miles all the time without stopping. I can handle that. Run it fast – got it.
With the half marathon, which is definitely a long race, I know how to approach that as well. My pacing strategy always comes down to 3 mile blocks, with water/walk breaks at those points. Run it steady – got it.
But the 10k – who knows with that one?! For me, the 10k is perplexing. Three miles is no problem to run, even five miles I can do without stopping. With that background, I feel like the six miles of a 10k should be no problem. Except there has always been a mental block for me. It’s JUUUST long enough to be intimidating to run my heart out for, but JUUUST short enough that I can’t simply zone out for a couple hours.
I decided to man up this week and at the last minute registered for this 10k in DeForest, WI. It wasn’t really motivated by anything other than I hadn’t done a race in awhile and since it is a holiday I figured this would be a pretty fun and lively one. I already needed to do a medium-length run for marathon training, and for $25 it delivered a new course, some comrades, a free t-shirt, and lunch. Not a bad deal.
Being over enthusiastic, as per usual, I dawned my red, white and blue. Pigtails (yeah, it surprised me that I did that too) flag ribbons, and a blue star clapper completed my ensemble. I figured I would be the “Freedom Fairy” with my little star clapper along the course.
I assumed I would fit in with the fine freedom-loving folks of DeForest, WI. Doesn’t everyone look for an excuse to get dressed up? Apparently not, because 98% of people were just there in their LuLu Lemon and Nike clothes. DID YOU MISS THE MEMO: It’s Independence Day. Hello! (I was a little disappointed I didn’t even see one person wearing a birthday hat for the occasion. Come on, that would be hilarious!)
I felt like Elle Woods from Legally Blonde showing up to the “costume” party in a bunny outfit, while all the Harvard YoPros (that’s young professionals for all you non-YoPros out there) wore their suit jackets and cardigans. After I recovered from my (very mild) embarrassment I was ready to run.
Let me tell you about 10ks. They’re not that much different from 5ks. Or half marathons. You run. And you do that for about 55 minutes. And then you’re done. I stopped for water, just like any other race, and I sprinted to the finish, just like any other race. Talk about building something up too much in my mind, again – as per usual.
I finished the 10k in 55:28, just south of the 9:00min/mi pace I have been striving for lately! I would have placed in my age group (W20-24) but being a small race the age group I fell into was W20-29. Either way, I walked away with a PR!
Having gotten my workout in for the day, I celebrated our nation’s birthday like I’m sure the founding fathers would have wanted us to – with a flag cake! (That’s what they envisioned when they wrote the Declaration of Independence, right?) And yes, I kept the red, white, and blue theme going all day – because I love America, that’s why.