This is becoming a regular event for me to run the 10k road race in Lehigh Valley Parkway on the Super Bowl Sunday. Last year was the first time I participated in the event and I was extremely proud of finishing the run in under 50 minutes. This year I had a soft goal as this is my B race I was not too concerned about running to kill myself. I need to be in shape on Tuesday for intervals session so the goal was to be attained only if felt good enough during the run. OK so what was the goal - sub-45 minute finish was what I wanted to get (I even thought about being minute or so faster if the running gods were on my side).
The run starts relatively late - at 10:30 a.m. to allow for the temperature to raise a bit. One never knows what weather will be like. Last year was horribly cold with strong wind so it was a real winter run. This year we got a very nice weather - the temperature was around 32 F (0 C) when I arriver to the parkway and the temperature raised to 40s before we started. Much better than what we had to battle last year. The event is always sold out and this year the Lehigh Valley Road Runners limited the field to some 500 runners. For the start I lined up on the side of the road in the first fourth of the field. I'm certainly in no position to stand with the big dogs in the front and I did not want to be too far back to avoid the crisscross in the first 1-2 miles until the field spreads out. It turns out that the line-up was spot on and during the first mile I passed only few people - maybe 30 and from mile 2 I was seeing the same group of people around me. But let's not get ahead too much.
After the gun (or shell I say shout :-) I kept to the side of the road and tried to avoid the crowding that happens in the middle. That worked quite well and I did not have to slow down in the first mile. I also kept eye on my pace to keep it just around 7:10 for the first mile - as always the excitement of the race got the best of me and I finished the first mile in 6:52, mile 2 through mile 4 are all in the rolling terrain, but first you need to climb uphill to the neighborhood above the parkway. I actually passed few folks on the way up the climb, it never gets old passing people. I'm not sure if you are familiar with the definition of rolling terrain around this area, but let's just say that some rolling terrain would qualify as pretty good hills in some flat areas of this country. In any case my next few laps were quite consistent - 7:16, 7:10 and 7:20. Then the race turns back to the starting line and it is mostly downhill and flat from here. Next mile was a bit faster 6:50 which may not have been such a good idea. I actually had to slow down right after passing the mile 5 as I started to feel little lightheaded and my stomach was about to launch my breakfast onto somebody's back. Some guy passed me and encouraged me to keep going with them (it was larger group). I explained to him what was about to happen if I kept pushing and let him go. Although I slowed down a bit I did not let the group get too far ahead of me. If I could catch my breath I may be able to pass them before we reach the finish line. After about 400m of slower running (around 7:45) I picked-up the pace again and focused on the group ahead of me. On the last half a mile I checked my watch picked-up the pace to 6:30 and kept pushing. The sub 44 finish was getting very real. In the finish stretch I looked at the countdown watch and it was showing 42:50 - I do not know where I got the strength to push even more, but I did. I crossed the finish line in 43:15 (or just about that time - official finish time will be published next week). I almost collapsed after crossing the finish and had to catch my breath. I got a nice red hat from the sponsor of the race that they gave to the first 100 finishers. I do not know my official place, but I know it is within the first 100 which is better than what I did last year (156 / 501). Time to celebrate with watching the game tonight.
If you are interested you can check the approximate path of the race on usatf.org.