"Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired in the morning, noon, and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired.”

- George S. Patton, U.S. Army General, 1912 Olympian

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Nike Human Race 10k Recap

In case you missed it, yesterday was dubbed "The Day the World Runs" by Nike. In short, they want as many people using their Nike+ gear to run a 10k on that day and upload the data for a sort of world-wide race. Last year had something like 780,000 participants around the world. They encourage you to run a 10k wherever you happen to be if you're not anywhere near one of their official race locations. Kind of cool I guess.

Portland happened to be one of the official locations, so at 6:15 on a Saturday morning, my parents and I made the trek up to Niketown, where the race would begin. Walking into the store we were treated to a spread of food (I'll take some after the run, thanks though) and a free Nike Dri-fit shirt. Around 8am the guy in charge gathered everyone around the store, gave some final directions and sent us out the door.

Because we were all on our own to start and finish, there was no official "Go!" but after a few moments of everyone looking at each other, wondering who would be the first to leave, one lady finally did. And we all took off after her.

I haven't spent too much time around downtown Portland in the daytime (mostly just heading home at night after a Blazer game), but running towards the river and then over the Hawthorne Bridge was pretty cool. The river was calm, the air crisp, not a lot of cars or other people around. Very quiet for being in the middle of a big city.

The course was an out and back and after crossing the river and running along side of it for a mile or so, we eventually got onto the Springwater Corridor trail. About halfway across the river I noticed I was running behind a guy running at a pretty good pace. A much faster pace than I wanted to run. I had even told myself over and over again not to get caught up in the excitement of a race and get out too quickly. Something was different on this run though. I felt good. My legs weren't sore or tired and so I decided to stay on this guy's heels and not let him get away.

We passed the 1 mile mark at 7:00. Way too fast, but I was still within 5 feet of him. Then the 2 mile mark at 14:30. Still way too fast I kept thinking. But as long as I was looking at the bottom of his shoes, I'd be alright. We made the turn at the 5k point at about 22:20 at which point two things happened: 1) I took the 180 degree turn a little bit more slowly (read: carefully) than he did and 2) I fumbled around with the water bottle in my hand for a few seconds trying to get a drink. When I looked back up, my pacer was 25 yards ahead of me.

I spent the next mile trying to make up the distance, but his pace alone was taking everything I had, much less running even faster to make up the distance. He eventually pulled ahead a little bit more and by the 4.5 mile mark I was alone. No one behind me, this guy now 100 yards in front of me.

And then, for a mile or so, I lost my focus. I started looking around, wondering how far it was until the bridge, checking over my shoulder to see if anyone else was coming up on me. All things that caused my pace to drop significantly back to my normal 8:15-8:30 pace I can run in my sleep.

I caught myself doing this at about the 5.25 mile mark and refocused for the last mile. As I crossed the finish line at 45:08, I was pretty pumped at the over all pace. And yet, I wondered, could I have done it in 44 minutes or less? I figure that's about what I lost in the mile I lost focus. Maybe another day. For this day though, 45:08 falls under the "Race of my life" category.

A quick turnaround this week for the Run Like Hell! Bend half-marathon on October 31st. Should be interesting. Bend is over the mountains about about 3500 feet elevation (I live at about 150). The forecast could be anything from sunny and 50 degrees, to snowy and 28. Less than 3 days out and there's still no firm idea of what we'll be running in.

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