It’s actually been a while (almost 3 months!) since I ran a race/wrote a race report. And it’s been even longer since I’ve run a smart race and paced myself properly. Sunday was the LA Chinatown Firecracker 10K, a race that I decided to run on Saturday, September 4, 2010. Why do I remember that exact date? Well, my brother had just bought a house and was throwing a house warming party for some friends and family. While I was waiting for my brother to heat up a hot dog, one of his friends came over and we all start to talk. Apparently, a few of my brother’s friends started running and actually ran a few marathons already, which was pretty impressive (I had barely run my first one 3 months ago!). Anyways, we were talking about upcoming races and they mentioned the Firecracker 10K, one that they have been running for a few years now. So they told me I should run it too and then we started talking about who would beat each other. I left that party stuffed with food, but also determined to compete come race day.
Official Results: 42:28, 6:51 min/mile, 9/169 AG, 51/2169 Overall. Splits weren’t too bad, especially considering the course: 7:23, 7:47, 7:16, 6:06, 6:56, 5:56, :53. Even better than those results is the placement among my brother and his friends. First few friends after me: 46:35-51:50 and my brother: 54:43! A little background, my brother ran in high school cross country (and was significantly faster than me) but I had joined the year after he graduated, so we never got to race together until this race. I have to admit that since we both started running again a couple of years ago, it’s been me who has really raced competitively; it’s been more recreational for him. So my PRs on 5Ks and above has been faster than his, but to actually run in the same race and be able to compare times was pretty cool. But that’s enough gloating for now.
The Firecracker 10K is supposed to be a pretty tough course; well the first half is at least. The first couple of miles of the course is just a steady uphill, not too steep, but enough to get you fatigued for the rest of the race if you go out too hard. Once you get to the ‘peak’ of Elysian Park, you get a nice view of Downtown LA and then it’s mostly downhill from there, literally. The last part of the course goes through Dodgers Stadium (just the parking lot, which is kind of lame) and finish back into Chinatown.
I wanted to focus on that first part of the race, if I got through that, everything else would be comparatively easier. But since I haven’t raced in a while, I wasn’t sure what type of race condition I was in, especially for hills. I knew a big part of me was going to try and hang with the runners up ahead, but that would just wear me out for the rest of the race.
I did my best to hold back the first mile. After the first couple hundred meters of dodging the casual runners in front of me, I finally had a clear path to run the race at my own pace. I threw out a pace of 7:15 so I tried to hover around that for the first mile. The last part of the first mile was uphill so I think 7:23 was pretty much on target.
The combination of holding back the first mile, not going up too fast up the hills and the fact that it was still the beginning in the race all helped me successfully overcome the hills for the next couple of miles. Just before the race started, one of my brother’s friends said he was going to move closer to the front of the starting line. My brother knew that it would have been annoying and a waste of energy for me to have to zigzag between slower runners, so he told me to do the same thing. I got a little closer, but probably not as close as my brother’s friend. During the race, I was actually passing quite a few runners on the uphills, which could have been a good thing or a bad thing. At around mile 2.5 (just before the peak), I saw my brother’s friend ahead which gave me a surge of energy to catch him. I started running next to him hoping to help each other for at least a couple of miles. But according my him (as he told me after the race), I just dogged him! I had my headphones on but didn’t say anything to him as I approached him, and after he said good job to me, I just took off. But from my perspective, I just felt that he didn’t want to push the pace, so I decided to keep going.
The next couple of miles weren’t too painful, most of it was downhill, and I actually hit a top speed of 4:38 or 5:00 min/mile, something I’ll never do on a flat course! I also knew I felt good because I was actually passing other runners and when a runner passed me, I didn’t get discouraged and let them go, but held my pace and passed them when we hit another downhill. It’s literally night and day when comparing how I feel during a race where I start off too fast vs a reasonable pace. There were a few runners that I had to let go or just couldn’t catch, but I’ll live with it. I still know I ran a hard-fought race that was paced very well and didn’t start off too fast to be fatigued for the rest of the race.
So now that I’ve been re-bitten by the race bug again, I need to make sure I don’t slack off and get some quality training in. I have a few races in the pipeline although I would like to find a few more to fill in. I think I mentioned in the previous post that I signed up for the LA Marathon next month, I recently registered for a trail half marathon, which will be my first and either the Rock ‘n’ Roll half/full in SD or maybe travel to Seattle for that one, still deciding. My brother and his friends also invited me to run the SF half at the end of July, which might be fun too. It’s supposed to be a pretty fun/scenic course, so that’s another one that I might consider as well. So many races to choose from, so little time!