RACE REPORT: Don Zetnick arlington winter run 12/06/08
WhooHoo! I placed 3rd in my age group at the race Don Zetnick Arlington Winter Run (10K). I usually don't race anything less than a 15K because I'm better at distance than speed. But they were giving away penguin awards to the top 3 in each age group. And I love and collect penguins! So I thought I would give it a try. Take a look at the adorable penguin below. Now I have a penguin award to go with the rest of my penguin collection: earrings, hat, stuffed animals, socks.
Luckily, the field of runners was small, so I stood a chance of placing. I managed to average 8:10/mile! For me that's a PR. I can do a single mile around 7 minutes, but for 6 miles, the best I have ever done is today's pace. I honestly thought I would have to wait until next year when I was a little faster at running in order to win a penguin. The women in the 45-49 age group run a really fast pace, even faster than the younger age groups. If I was 40-44, I would have placed first in that age group.
Frances McKissick (age 46) was the overall female masters winner in the 10K with an average pace of 7:21/mile. She also was the overall female masters winner in the 2 mile with an average pace of 6:52/mile. Fiona Green is another one that frequently wins the overall masters, but she wasn't there today. Race organizers staggered the start times so that anyone that wanted to run both the 2 mile and the 10K could do both.
I forgot to turn my Garmin off until after they took the timing chip off (hence the 51:05 above). However, my chip time was 50:45 with an average pace of 8:10/mile.The course contained a lot of uphill portions (elevation profile above). I wasn't sure I could maintain pace on the uphills. I did slow down on the worst hills (miles 4 and 5). Luckily, I had gone faster on the downhill portions going out, so I still kept a decent average/mile. I was right at my lactate threshold the entire time. I could hear it in my breathing. Now, if I can just push it back to sub 8 instead of 8:10/mile.
The race was very well organized! They had the use of the UTA Athletic Center for pre-race packet/chip pickup, bathrooms, and after race awards and drawings for prizes. It was wonderfully warm in there. Plus they were playing music from my generation on the loud speakers! For such a small entry fee ($15 before race day and $20 on race day), I really think they outdid themselves. For that fee, I received a long sleeve t-shirt, they used a professional timing system with chips, they had sports photographers there, and they provided free food/drink afterwards (including bagels, coffee, pizza, bananas, water). They also gave awards to the top 3 in each age group consisting of a penguin mounted on a plaque with a medallion showing the place. And any net proceeds benefit the YMCA of Arlington and the Arlington Charities.
In today's economy, it's nice that some traditions still continue. This is the 31st running of the race founded by Don Zetnick in 1978. He and his wife Sally opened the store The Runner in Arlington in 1978. Don passed away in December of 2005, but his son Phil Zetnick and wife Jessica continue to run the store. And the race he started continues on every year! Don's wife Sally Zetnick ran the 2 mile race today and she is 76 years old. How's that for inspiration!
I haven't raced a 10K in 3 years, so I wasn't really sure whether to bring water/sports drink/fuel belt. In general, they say that you don't need sports drink for races in mild to cold weather lasting under an hour. But that's like my security blanket - I'm so used to running long distances that I always have water or sports drink with me. I compromised this time. Instead of a fuel belt, I just carried my EFS Liquid Shot in its 5 oz flask. It has a sports top and is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand easily. That worked out well - I only drank about 2 ounces, so I probably didn't need it after all.
I learned my lesson at the DRC Half when I ended up running additional distance from lining up too far back at the start and then having to weave in/out other runners in order to maintain pace. So this time I lined up near the front, but still behind the 5-6 minute milers. That worked out well. There was only one spot where I had to maneuver around other runners.
The weather was really cold but there was very little wind and the sun was out. So I opted for long sleeves, gloves, and shorts. I didn't warm up until after the first couple of miles. However, by the time mile 4 came around, my hands were sweating, so I took the gloves off and carried them. I also ended up pushing up my sleeves. It's amazing how much heat your body generates when you're running.
Around mile three I saw Tanya, who had been in the DRC Half Marathon Training Program. She won first in her age group and received a first place penguin award! It was nice to see a familiar face. Other than her and Frances, I didn't recognize anyone else.
The volunteers were great - I think they could tell that I was struggling to keep that pace - they kept encouraging me. It was the thought of getting one of those penguins that made me keep pushing. Silly, isn't it? But for someone that only starting running 3 years ago, it means a lot to me! 8:10/mile is slow by some standards, but every year, I take about a minute/mile off my time. I'll get there! Perseverance and determination go a long way.
I love dogs, so it was with pleasure that I noted that the dog in the photo above beat my time by a few minutes. I think he must be this lady's regular training partner. They were beside me at the start and the dog was wanting her to go faster, but she held her pace. But near the finish line, it looks like he started to slow down at the end (kind of like me).
As you can see from the photo at the right, the last 1/4 mile was downhill to the finish. I was ready for the downhill because the last two miles had been mostly uphill. It was great to turn the last corner and realize it was downhill from there.
Also, we didn't have to wait outside for results/awards. We went inside the UTA Athletic Center where there were nice chairs, benches, bathrooms, tv's, coffee, water, and food. Santa was there giving out lollipops from his red bag to both kids and adults. We're all young at heart!
It's funny how your goals keep changing. Since I qualified for Boston last October, I have a new goal. I want to try to beat my Boston qualifying time at the Boston Marathon. That's the great thing about running - there's always another challenge.