Friday, July 5, 2013

2013 Bluegrass 10,000 Race Report

For the past 37 years, Lexington's downtown 4th of July celebration has begun with the running of the Bluegrass 10,000. Its a race that I was familiar with before ever putting on a pair of running shoes, or even living in Lexington. At today's race, I overheard a couple experienced mature runners talking about a nearby 5k that has started to offer $12,000 in prize money and is attracting all of the "Kenyans", giving others the chance to win Bluegrass. I chimed in and said that if I had the speed, I would probably be at the 5k as well (I'm poor!). They swore they would still run the 10,000, because it has too much sentimental value to pass up. In other words, this is a marquee race that is very important to the Lexington running community.

This was my second time running the Bluegrass 10,000. I ran it last year and though I enjoyed it, I knew it wasn't my best race. It was less than a month after my first full marathon, which was in 80 degree weather in the mountains. Furthermore, last year's race day weather was hot and sunny, with the temperature soaring to near triple digits. This year, I spent the better of June training specifically for this race, building upon a local 5k that I raced at the beginning of the month, and hoped for more ideal weather.

I felt well prepared without being over-trained. I tapered and took a couple days off without any running. On top of the experience of running last years race, I joined the Striders this past weekend for a group run over the racecourse. My main concern was the weather, which I had no control over. Rain and thunderstorms were on the way. As long as there wasn't a monsoon, I'd be fine. My shoelaces might not have been tied (Velcro Vibrams), but my fingers were crossed.

On race morning, I woke up to near perfect weather: high 60's and an overcast sky, with occasional light showers. No near heat strokes this year. I drank a glass of water, ate a banana, and found parking a few blocks from the start, without about 45 minutes to spare. Last year, I arrived a little late, wound up stuck in the porta-potty line, and started the race too far back, despite being a seeded runner. I didn't repeat the same mistake this year. After a mile warmup, with a several strides, I was ready to go.

Last year, I finished in over 45 minutes and this year, I decided I'd be happy with anything less than 43. I planned to start conservatively, thinking a 7 minute first mile would be ideal. Ofcourse, most excited runners start too fast, and I let many pass me without worrying. I still managed to run the first mile a little faster than planned, but felt relaxed. Soon, we were passing mile 2, running away from downtown, and climbing a slight incline on Richmond Road. However, I still felt that I had another gear left that I could shift to later. Despite the rain showers, a number of spectators were out chearing, music was blasting, and fire hydrants and hoses were spraying water. I avoided the extra water this year as the roads were already wet and my wornout Vibrams have very little traction. The last mile I was actually thinking to myself, "OK, I'm good so long as I don't fall!"

After running away from downtown, the course loops with a 2 mile return to downtown for the finish. I began to see the front runners speeding back and a few minutes later I was following their footsteps. I still felt good, and at this point I was confident I'd meet my expectations. I was running
around a 6:30 pace and as I crested the last "hill" I dropped my pace closer to a flat 6 minutes, reeling in the runners within striking distance, until crossing the finish line.

Following this race, I am going to begin training for the Monumental Indianapolis Marathon in the fall, and probably throw in a half marathon in between. As far as future 10ks are concerned, I think sub-40 is a reasonable goal and plan not to miss the 38th edition of the Bluegrass 10,000 on July 4th of 2014.

Time:  41:12
Pace:  6:37 min/mile
Age Group:  15/139
Overall:  100/2863

Finishing in my new black No Meat Athlete singlet. Back: "Run's on Plants"

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