On Sunday I mentioned I ran my first 10K race in a number of years. While I was pleased with my 38:30 comeback performance, I have to say I worked pretty hard to get that time.
I have to thank two fellow runners. Samuel and I stayed together for most of the race, from around the 1 mile mark to about 5 miles, when I started gradually pulling away from him. He was targeting sub-40 minutes and he finished under 39 minutes. Then 35 year old Eduardo, who was probably 15 seconds behind me at the halfway turnaround, managed to pass me around mile 5. I stayed behind him, for a bit, caught my breath, and reeled him back in over the last half mile of the race. We were just 2 seconds apart at the finish.
I was quite happy that I was able to stick with these younger runners (ok, I'm not THAT old). Running a race well involves both physical and mental exertion. The physical side as we all know is doing the homework...proper training, sleep, rest and nutrition.
The mental side involves a lot of things, but on race day, I think the key is to HOLD BACK at the start of the race. Pretty much every single local 5K, 10K race I go to, I can count on 5 to 10 young whippersnappers starting the race as if it were a 100 yard dash. That's where my elderly wisdom pays off. It is fun watching them take off, knowing 90% of them will be hurting in about 5 to 10 minutes. Often one of these young guns wins the race (as 29 year old Joey Snyder did handily on Sunday). But the rest of them I get to reel in.
So start your daily runs and your races out a bit on the slow side. Work your way into your runs, and your body will thank you. But young guns, please ignore this advice and continue bolting out at the start of local races for my comic relief.
As far as the rest of your race, if you can latch on and run with people at or slightly faster than your desired pace, that's the way to go. Running by yourself in a race is no fun. Feed off others to help push yourself into a solid rhythm. And save your best for the latter part of the race. You'll have fun and gain momentum passing people at the end of the race.
Here's a short video of the start of the Love Run 5K on June 7th. Click "HQ" after the video begins for higher quality viewing. The obnoxious high-pitched noise in the background is the sound of timer chips affixed to runners' shoes as they crossed the starting mat.