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 San Francisco Waterfront 10 Mile
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

San Francisco Waterfront 10 Mile Posted: Mon Jan 23, 2012 10:07 am 

Yesterday I ran the Waterfront 10 Mile in San Francisco-- my most exciting race in a long time. It was overcast, wet, moderately windy, and mid-40s at the start, though it wasn't actually raining at the start of the race. It wasn't the worst conditions I've seen, but it was still pretty bad. I raced in a long sleeve shirt and gloves, when normally I'm fine in a T-shirt in just about any weather.

The course was 10 miles out and back along the San Francisco waterfront, so winds were gusting the whole way. It went by Ghirardelli Square, through Fisherman's Wharf, Pier 39, Embarcadero, right past AT&T Park (where the Giants play) and on into some industrial waterfront area, before returning by the same route.

I raced 5K a week ago, and the Runworks calculator used that results to predict I could run 10 miles in 1:13:46, or 7:22 pace. With only a week between races I didn't except to see any improvement, but I finished in 1:12:52, which is 7:17 pace and VDOT 46.6. That's great, but what actually makes me happiest is how the race unfolded.

I tried to run my predicted 7:22 pace, and hit it perfectly for the first mile. It didn't feel too difficult. Around the end of the first mile, I found myself behind a woman in an orange shirt, and ended up shadowing her for the next eight miles! A few times she pulled away, and a few times I tried to pass her, but somehow we always ended up again with me right on her heels. The outbound leg pacing was almost perfect, never varying much from that 7:22 pace. From looking at flags I could see we were running more-or-less straight into the wind, but I didn't really notice it much.

Just after the turn-around, it started to rain steadily. Orange shirt pushed the pace and dropped me, and I was pretty bummed because I really needed the psychological boost of someone nearby to pull me. Nobody else was very close. I tried not to let her get too far away, though, and before long she came back to me. This repeated several times more, where she'd drop me, but then by some combination of her slowing and my speeding up, I'd be on her heels again.

With every mile we turned up the pace a little more. A couple times I tried to pass her, but it took a hard effort, and I never got more than half a stride ahead before she'd overtake me again. We ran through the wind and rain, pushing harder and harder, with soggy tourists looking agog at us. By mile 7 I was working very hard, feeling about like I typically do near the end of a race, but we still had three miles to go. I repeatedly tried every trick I knew of, focusing my brain on faster turnover, better posture, and relaxed breathing, and it seemed to help a little, but I was definitely pushing the redline.

We returned to Fisherman's Wharf around mile 9, and I was still right there on her heels, going as hard as I possibly could. I was alternately gasping and panting and having a hard time getting my breathing under control. Finally she pushed it a little more, and I just couldn't match her pace. She slowly pulled away, but I fought like hell to at least keep her in sight.

For most of the last mile, my body was tied up with lactic acid, which almost never happens to me. Maybe that means I don't push myself hard enough. This time my legs, chest, and arms ached and felt stiff as boards, and I focused hard on pumping my arms and trying to maintain halfway decent form. My breathing was all kinds of ragged. I must have gone through 10 times of thinking "I can't do it!" and slowing up, only to immediately think "just a little bit more!" and pump my arms like mad. I could see the finish, but it wasn't getting close fast enough. Orange shirt was still there just a few seconds ahead, and I bore down and pushed as hard as I could to the finish, following her in. I don't think the gap could have been more than 5 seconds at the end. If not for her, I never ever would have pushed myself so hard on the return leg of the race.

My mile splits were 7:23, 7:24, 7:28, 7:22, 7:22, 7:15, 7:15, 7:12, 7:04, 7:06.

The funny thing is that after the race I talked to orange shirt, and she had no idea what I was talking about. I guess she never noticed that the same guy had been on her tail nearly the entire race, and tried and failed to pass her several times. Here I thought we were having this amazing duel, but she was just running her own race, oblivious to whatever I was doing.

Almost immediately after the finish, I became aware of how cold it was. I was racing so hard I hadn't noticed, but with the cold, wind, and rain, it was downright miserable. I jogged a brief cooldown run, and then got the hell out of there as fast as I could.

1:12:52 is a 10M PR for me, although I've only ever raced the distance one other time, so it's not much to brag about.

It's funny, after reading someone else's race report, I realized we ran right past a bunch of other SF landmarks, and right under the Bay Bridge, but I never even noticed. I was so intent on that orange shirt!

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