Today, I ran the Lou Gherig's Disease 10K to benefit the ALS Foundation. I have done this race five times and it has always a big race for a good cause. It includes a 10K, a 5K run and a 5K walk. It is always hot, humid, and hilly, and today was no exception.
This was going to be my first 10K without albuterol and the last race distance I had to conquer without it. With the last two 5Ks done without albuterol, I knew there was a great chance to race this without medication. It was also my first 10K since this race last year where I had two asthma attacks during the race at miles 2 and 4. So, it was clear I had to race one without medication on this course to see that I could.
Since I ran the marathon in Puerto Rico last week, I knew my legs were not ready to push a good pace. It was also going to be mid 80s and humid, and this course is tough. There is no way to explain why the course is tough. Yes, it has rolling hills but they are not too bad. Yes, it is usually in the mid 80s and 80-90% humidity, but I have run other races as hot and as humid. But just to give you an idea, I have only broken the 1 hour mark on this race once in the five years, my PR is 51:25 from another race and my average 10K pace is 54:XX. So, I usually run 5-10 minutes slower here for some reason.
With all of that mind, I put 60 minutes worth of music in my iPod and made my goal to break 1 hour for the second time. Nothing to write home about but I knew it would be a challenge to even run this fast in this course with this weather and a week after a marathon.
I woke up 20 minutes before the alarm at 5:30am and got ready. Got my coffee and drove to the starting line, 30 minutes away. It was already 79F when I got there and the sun was just coming out. Picked my packet, said hi to my friends from the running, got our pics taken, and warmed up.
Before I even started the warmup, I was soaked. I started coughing by 6:30am which meant asthma was closing in. In the humidity we had, it was not surprising.
I did 2 miles warmup (too short for me but I ran out of time) with the last mile including strides. The first 3 strides were slow but the last one was on pace so I knew I had a chance to run faster than normal. We started promptly (miraculously) at 7:32am, which is too late, BTW, down here for a race and were off.
Mile 1 - I tried to slow down so that I wouldn't get an attack so quickly in the race and settled for 161HR, slightly slower than the 170 I wanted. Part of this mile is flat but after 0.50 it starts climbing. The mantra at each mile is don't walk, don't get an attack, and be conservative. Split: 9:11.
Mile 2 - This is the point where I got my first asthma attack last year, just before the downhill. Today, I passed the spot, stuck out my tongue and ran a split of 9:07.
Mile 3 - This mile brings us to the toughest part of the race. Usually, by Mile 4, I walk a bit since the temps have climbed a lot and the sun is horrible. We head into the weird turnaround throughout the neighborhood and ran an uphill and several minor rolling hills. Split: 9:18. This would be my last fastish mile. HR has remained steady at 170 now.
Mile 4 - The hard section commences and I know I want to walk like so many others are doing but refrain from doing so. I high fived all of my running group members as they run by and concentrate on continuing my pace whatever it is and not to let the 60 minute pacer who is far behind me pass me at any point. Split: 9:49. Oh, I passed the point of my second asthma attacks, stuck out my tongue and realized I'm not even breathing hard.
Mile 5 - As I passed the Mile 4 marker, I see a water station. Prior to now I've been using the water to throw it over my head, but my stomach is rebelling at the humidity and I need to put something in it, so I walked the water station while getting some Gatorade in me. The fact that the water station is at an uphill helped me conquer the worst uphill of the race. Split: 10:11.
Mile 6 - As I pass the Mile 5 marker, I noticed the place where I stopped last year to quit the race. If you remember, I stopped my Garmin, took my bib off and jogged to the car, only to be duped by the friend that ran by me into crossing the finish line. I passed it with just a look and continued on. At this point, we join the 5K walkers and start weaving around them. This is the only part of the race I believe they need to change, as the walkers are walking in tandem and enjoying the day but we are trying to pass them. Not their fault as it is after all, a walk, but maybe the RD needs to divide us until the finishing chute so the cluster fuck lessens. Split: 9:42.
0.20 - At this point, the sun is a killer, the humidity has my top almost as down as mid thigh, and my hair is dripping from the sweat. I'm not fast by any means since most of the last three miles have ups more than downs, but I keep pushing one foot in front of the other and know that I'm close to the 1 hour mark but that I'm safe and can do it. I rush through the finishing chute and I'm done as the clock hits 1 hour. Final time: 59:33.
Even with my slow time, I was 16th in my AG, with the AG winner a slow 45:XX. It was a hot and humid day and it was not even close to my best or even average 10K pace but my performance was strong, my lungs only coughed once and I knew I left time on the course in order to be careful about my asthma. Before my asthma, I ran a course PR of 53:XX, a weird time considering I always run 1:11, 1:02, and 1:12 on this course. This year, I ran it better and felt better. Now all I need to is to break this 59:33 next week while looking at Hula Boys and I should be fine!
Thanks for reading!