On Saturday June 9, I ran The Fast and the Furriest 10K, only I almost didn’t. But I’ll get to that.
I had high hopes for a new PR at this race. I’ve been running faster than my previous PR pace ever since coming back to the Rochester area. My longest training run was just 5.8 miles, but I hoped my record pace could hold out. I picked up my race packet at the Ridgeway Ave. Fleet Feet location a couple of days before the race. One of my few complaints about the event was that online information about race times and packet pickup was contradictory. Packet pickup times and locations listed on the city’s event Web site and on Active.com were conflicting, but ultimately an e-mail from Yellowjacket Racing cleared up the confusion. The race shirt is just kind of OK—it will make sure I get seen if I wear it while night running—but the race numbers are cute and the packet was composed with pet owners in mind. (The Verona Street Animal Society and Rochester Animal Services are beneficiaries of the event.) Also included were coupons for local vet services, a packet of dog treats from a local realtor, and a packet of Milk Bone “trail mix” for dogs. My little one approved of that.
The morning of the race I faced a difficult decision. I woke up two hours before race time to a steady rain. My dog wouldn’t go outside, and I wondered if I shouldn’t either. Knowing that Rochesterians are used to bad weather, I had little doubt that the race would go on. I just wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a part of it. I’m not new to bad weather racing (Temecula Valley, anyone?), but running a 10K is a different ball game than running a 5K. I made the decision to suit up and drive into the city anyway, just to see if weather got better toward race time. It rained so hard on the way in that I almost turned around, but when I got within a few blocks of the start and saw runners warming up in spite of the rain I knew there was no turning back.
I think this is one of the smallest runs I’ve ever taken part in, perhaps due in part to the weather. Despite lots of promotion online and in print, race results recorded just 211 finishers for the 10K. (A 5K and a dog walk were also offered.) The start was a bit disorganized—announcers were hard to hear over the chatter and were not adequately amplified. I guess electronic amplification and rain don’t mix. As a result, I think most of the pack took off early. I was mid-pack about a block down the road when I heard the starting horn actually blow. This may be why my Garmin times were faster than the mile times announced by race volunteers all the way through.
At the actual start of the race it had briefly stopped raining, but it started up again a few blocks in and continued the whole way. I was so focused on my running that it really wasn’t too much of a bother, except that: a) wet feet late in the race were really annoying. Between rain and puddles I was soaked to my socks; b) my double-tied shoes came untied during the race, which I blame on soaked laces. I lost a few seconds to re-tie them. The race course took us through downtown, along the Genesee River to the University of Rochester area, back across the river, and up back to downtown with a finish outside the Verona Street Animal Shelter. In good weather, it’s not a bad place to run. I’ve run some of these streets as part of the Rochester Half Marathon and on lunchtime runs when I worked in downtown Rochester. The neighborhood is a bit rough, but at 8AM on a Saturday with a pack of runners, there were no problems.
I could tell from my Garmin that my pace was fast (by my standards) throughout. Anything under 10:30/mi would make for a new PR, and my longer training runs were around 10:25/mi while shorter runs (up to 4 miles) were under 10:00/mi pace. On race day, I was thrilled to be consistently under 10:00/mi. I’ve never run for so long at this speed, and though I was concerned about being wet and tired at the end I held out and crossed the finish line in 61:27—a new PR by about 4 minutes!
The 10K is still a growth area for me. This was only actually my third 10K ever—after the ridiculously hilly 2010 Cinco de Mayo 10K in Tucson and the 2012 Lost Dutchman 10K in Apache Junction—and every race has been faster than the last. I believe I could shave a little more time off my 10K in the future, but I’m pleased with this performance and I think it shows the result of more training miles, weight loss, and a better diet—all things I’ve worked hard at in 2012. An interesting side note to this is that even at an overall 9:55/mi pace I was one of the slower finishers in this race. I’d like to think this is because rain deterred a lot of slower runners and walkers who might have otherwise participated.
Support along the course was good, with times announced each mile as runners passed. Post-race entertainment included live music, an expo of pet products and services, and an open house at the Verona Street Shelter with adoptable pets. Weather cleared up within 15 or 20 minutes of the finish so I got to enjoy some of this while attempting to dry off. These two pups pictured here are among the many pets at the shelter looking for forever homes. These adorable babies have no front legs, but they were as happy and loving as any puppies could be. I hope someone in the Rochester area will give these little ones a bright future!