Day 8: The 10k that ended up OK (!)

Last night I ran the Davis Moonlight Run, an annual* race in Davis, CA. . The name says it all: this is a nighttime run. I ran the 10k, which started at 8pm. You might think that by 8pm it would be cooler. However, last night at 8pm it was still over 80 degrees. This is pretty normal for a Summer evening in the Sacramento area, but um… not a temperature I feel great about running in. In fact, heat is the primary reason I tend to run early on Summer mornings.

A 10k is 6.2 miles. This is not a long distance for me. However, I have had several challenging 10k races now, including last night. The first time was when I ran the Davis Moonlight 10k Run back in 2018. This was not an easy run. For one thing, that night I had rested for only two days after a fast 4th of July run. For another, again it was a hog night. And finally, I was 30 pounds heavier, as this was before I had my Intermittent Fasting breakthrough. The run basically sucked from the get go, as I was very tired and had to run slow just to get through.

Last night went quite a lot better, though it too had its challenges.

First of all, let me say what I wish I had done last night:

  • Start the race at a conservative but still interesting 8:30 pace.
  • Speed up to, say, 8:15 pace for the next two miles.
  • Take the final two miles at 8:00 or below, and cross the finish line triumphantly and happily.

Instead, here’s what actually happened:

  • Go out a more conservative but still interesting 8:30 pace. Arrive at the race totally in my head about the heat and various other things and have no actual plan about how to make this a good run. Once the race gets started, go out too fast (sub 8:00) because I’m close to the front of the pack and trying to keep up with the blazing 5k runners (who run with us for the first mile).
  • Speed up to, say, 8:15 pace for the next two miles. Get tired out by mile 3 and have to slow down, make peace with my mistake and plan to rest up for a strong finish.
  • Take the final two miles at 8:00 or below Take mile 5 very conservatively (over 9:00) but then speed up the final mile to cross the finish line triumphantly and happily as originally planned!

All in all, it wasn’t too bad. I may not have planned very well, but I recovered well and finished the race very happy.

Here are the takeaways I got:

  • I need to stop taking 10k races for granted 🙂 . I need to have a good pacing plan. Starting out as fast as I possibly can and then pooping out is not a good pacing plan!
  • Even if I’m concerned about things like hot weather, I should, if possible, always plan to let myself run full-out for races. Racing with others brings out the competitor in me, and I like to play full out. Plus, if my plans are too conservative, I will probably just end up ignoring them and going fast, anyway.
  • Despite a few mistakes, I did a lot of things well at this race: I was well rested, I had plenty of hydration with me, I took 35 second walking breaks every 5 minutes as planned (this is my new walk-run approach I learned from Jeff Galloway, I’m sure I will talk more about this later**). Did I mention that I am also awesomely in shape, and went into last night having run 750 miles already this year?

So there you have it. Some wins, some learnings, and overall, a sense of satisfaction of another fine experience!

What more could a guy ask for?

*Like every other race in the world, the Davis Moonlight Run had a break for a year or two because of the Pandemic.

** I am using Jeff Galloway’s book “Marathon: You Can Do It!” as my running coach to train for the California International Marathon coming up in December. Galloway is adamant about slowing down when it gets hot. Being the good student that I am, I approached last night’s race with very conservative notions about the pace I “should” take (that is, a slow one). Also, I admit it, I can be a bit, um, overly-concerned (ie wimpy?) about heat. Maybe it’s my fair complexion and Northern European genes 🙂

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