3 mile easy run in the morning with Andrea. Then a half day of work and flew to Portland. We landed and all the stereotypes about the city were confirmed within minutes - it was raining, our rental car was a Subaru, and there were bike lanes and complicated recycling options everywhere! Got to the hotel, took a nap, then headed over to the track at Lewis & Clark College around 6:30pm. Watched a few of the other races, then started warming up ~8pm. It felt weird to be starting my run at the time I'm usually getting ready for bed.
This was my first track race since 2008, and first 10K on the track since 2004. It had been a long time since I had been in this type of environment. The rain had stopped and the weather was nice and cool - it was a perfect evening for racing.
The field was a little more than 20 guys, so when the gun went off there was some jostling, but I managed to avoid getting spiked and also managed to avoid jumping out too quick.I settled immediately into the rhythm I wanted - 72 second laps. First 3 miles (1600m splits) were 4:48.5, 4:47.0, 4:48.6 (14:24.1 at 4800m, and ~15:00-15:01 at 5K). Perfect.
The leaders were wayyyy out front, and I had positioned myself behind 2 guys in light blue singlets who were clearly working together to try and break 30 minutes. We were sort of the "chase" pack, although we weren't really chasing anyone. The blue guys went out a little faster than me, and it took 4-5 laps to catch up to them. Once I did, I sort of hung behind for the next 6-7 laps. Apparently they were not too happy that I had latched onto their group, and one of them said something to me about sharing the work, so I jumped out to the front at 5K and took over the pacing for a while. Next two splits were 4:49.3 and 4:50.7 (24:04 at 8K, a little slower than I wanted). The pace was just lapsing a tiny bit - 72.0s were becoming 72.5s, but those 0.5s add up!
5 laps to go - one of the blue guys is long gone off the back, the other one passes me and puts a gap on me. The lapping game is heating up now as well. I'm running in lane 2 passing the slower runners, and also being courteous enough to move out to lane 2 when I'm being passed by the faster guys. I'm starting to think sub 30 is out of the question. The sixth split was 4:50.4 (28:54.6 at 9600m). I mustered up what I had left and closed the last lap in 68.0. As I approaching the finish line I heard the guy calling out the times - 29:58, 29:59, 30:00, 30:01, and THEN I came through at that point and just said "D@MMIT!" With a smile on my face, of course. Heck, I can't really complain about running 30 flat for 10K when I've never broken 15 minutes in a 5K on the track.
Ahhhh so close, but no cigar. Final time was 30:03 and I came in 9th place (haven't seen official results yet). I gave it what I had. Obviously 29:59 would have been a much nicer number, but in terms of my fitness, its the same thing. I'm content for now. This is still a big jump for me, a PR by over a minute. I ran about what I expected tonight.
Racing on the track is different... its honest, its exposed, its a bit intimidating in some ways. There's nowhere to hide out there. If you slow down, everyone watching knows it. I love it - and I hope to continue to race more in these types of meets.
I cooled down for about 4 minutes, then went out for ice cream w/ Andrea and two of my friends who live in Portland. It was good to catch up with them, and we all had a good night. Almost on cue, the rain started pouring again once the track meet had ended for the night.
Its very late, so I'll wrap this up. A good race for me, even though 30 flat isn't "equivalent" to a sub 65 half-marathon, I believe I'm capable of that next weekend if I have a great race. I can hold pace pretty well when moving up from 5K/10K to the half.
Oh, and when you haven't worn superlight spikes for anything longer than 200m reps, running 25 laps in them will beat your feet up really good :-)
Looking forward to the rest of the weekend - running in Forest Park tomorrow morning, then off to the coast.