It’s official: the 10K is my new favorite distance! The Oakley Mini 10K was probably one of the strongest races I’ve ever run, and my running/training confidence is through the roof right now. Let’s see how it went down:
On Saturday morning I met my cousin at the train station for the 5:37am train but my usual pre-race jitters were nowhere to be found: this was “just” a 10K (I’m super comfortable with that distance) and we had already tested out our travel plans a few days before so we knew exactly where to go to get to the starting line on time. It was pure fun!
We got off the subway at Columbus Circle and practically walked right into our corral, so to kill the next hour before the start we wandered around and took pictures pretty much everywhere we could. When the volunteers warned us about the impending start time, I kissed Mike goodbye and we smushed into our corral with the rest of the “brown bibs” (copyright 2015, Jess Runs Happy).
By 8am, the temps were already in the high 70’s and the humidity was around 60%. I was comfortable in the shade, but when the sun poked through the trees, it was hot. But once the horn went off, everything fell into place and I took off on my very first timed 10K!
As we fought our way up the street, I got caught up in the excitement and went out too fast at around 10:40/mile. Once I noticed and slowed down, the first mile clocked by easily in 11:15. I was feeling great: my Bioskin patella strap gave my knee the support it needed and the shade of the trees and tall buildings kept me nice and comfortable. I lost my cousin at the first water stop – I was carrying a full disposable water bottle with me and hadn’t even touched it – so I kept on running for the second mile and into the park, where the fun really started.
The spectators and volunteers lining the course made a huge difference – it’s hard not to feel energized when there’s a bunch of shirtless November Project dudes in tutus hanging off the streetlight poles banging cowbells for you! As the miles ticked by through 4.5, I was pleased with my effort. I took walk breaks halfway up each hill to keep from burning out – I knew these would affect my time but I was more interested in having fun at this race than setting an unbelievable PR, especially with the heat and hills.
This is where I passed one or two women laid out on the grass with medics elevating their feet and icing them down – the heat was really no joke! But when I glanced down to see that I’d been running for just over an hour, I was shocked at how good I still felt. To stay on track I took some gummy bears on a walk break, filled up my water bottle at the mile 5 water stop, and decided to push for the final 1.2 miles to see what I was capable of.
I knew I wasn’t going to PR – my best 10K time on a treadmill is around 1:12, and I was already at around 1:07 with an average pace hovering around 12:45 with the walk breaks. But I told myself to make the effort to finish with an average pace under 12:30, and it turned out to be a real challenge! Once I spotted the 800 meters sign, I resisted the urge to take off so that I could finish strong: I bolted at the 800 meters sign in the NYC Half, only to fizzle briefly at 400 meters, so I learned my lesson.
Soon the 400 meters sign was in sight and that’s when I gunned it past about a dozen or so women, smiling the whole way. The crowds lining the course were unbelievably happy and loud, so I gave it everything I had for a super strong finish – and crossed the line with an average pace of 12:29!
Once I found Mike and my cousin about 10 minutes later, we traded stories (Mike missed my finish because one runner got sick and collapsed as soon as she crossed the finish line about 15 seconds ahead of me!) and posed for some finisher pics.
Soon after that we tired of the crowds and made our way back through the park to Columbus Circle once more, where we snapped a few more pics and made our way home!
Like I said before, this race has officially kicked off my love affair with the 10K distance, and I’m already searching for more to do in the next few months! It’s just long enough to be challenging but not so intense that the training cuts into my life and drains me. Plus you get medals at a lot of them, what’s not to love about that?!