I ran my very first 10k last weekend, the Sycamore Pumpkin Run. Friday night, while out for what was supposed to be a four or five mile run, I turned my ankle wrong avoiding a gate that suddenly opened in front of me. I sprained the same ankle three years ago, and ever since, it’s been somewhat balky. So after limping home, I popped some ibuprofen, grabbed a bag of frozen peas and propped it on a pillow for the rest of the night. I spent much of Saturday doing the same thing, staying off it as much as possible.
Sunday morning, it felt ok. Not great – very stiff, with a dull ache – but not the throbbing pain that kept me awake Friday night. I took more ibuprofen with my PBJ oatmeal and debated what to wear. It was a chilly 31 degrees. I didn’t want a repeat of the Harvest Hustle where I roasted in the 40 degree chill. I went with a short sleeve technical tee and long warm up pants, with a cotton hoodie that I planned to leave in the car. (I still need to get a non-cotton zip up hoodie, and dig out my non-leather gloves, but I ran out of time.) I downed my second cup of coffee and set off for Sycamore, about 45 minutes west of Elgin.
Once I found the place (thanks, Google Maps, for sending me down a dirt road!) and parked, I jogged to the Armory to pick up my shirt and bib. I could see my breath and second guessed whether I would be able to ditch the hoodie as planned. I then broke what I’ve heard is a “rule” of races – I stripped off my tee and put on the long sleeve technical shirt with the race logo.
I met up with some Daily Mile friends, including the fantastic Beth. We lined up around the 9:30 mile pace sign, waited for the gun and took off. Beth was dressed as Super Pumpkin, complete with cape and mask, which made her easy to spot once she got ahead of me after the first crowded mile or so. There were several cool costumes, from various winged fairies and princesses to a squirrel, a chicken and Santa Claus.
The first mile through quaint downtown Sycamore, I concentrated on keeping a moderate pace. I’m often guilty of going out too fast, leaving nothing for the end of the race. Plus, I didn’t want to overtax the ankle too soon.
Miles two and three were cold, straight down a country road flanked by a subdivision on one side and a farm with grazing cows on the other. There was a crisp breeze through this stretch, especially as the pack thinned out. I focused on keeping a pace around 9:30 and ran along the white line, listening to bits of conversation around me.
Mile four, we turned out of the wind onto another country road. I stopped for water and the ankle complained a bit. I walked a few steps while sipping, then kicked it back into gear. At mile 5, I realized that, if my math was right, I could meet my original “under 60 minutes” goal if I really pushed, so I took off with a pace around 8:30. Unfortunately, this only lasted about half a mile before I couldn’t maintain it, so I slowed down as the crowd surged around me. I felt like I was going to puke as I followed the curving paths through the golf course. I didn’t see the actual finish line until I was right on top of it (damn curves!), but I kept eying my watch, knowing that I was going to be very close.
And it was. I crossed the line as the clock said 1:00:31. As I hit “Stop” on my watch, it read 59:59. I knew I was about 30 seconds behind the clock time (thank goodness for timing chips!), so I met up with Beth, got a beer, watched the other runners come in… and then went to look for results. Officially? I finished in 59:56. Woo-hoo! Not bad for a first 10k, especially on a less-than-healthy ankle.
Next weekend is the Hot Chocolate 15k. I plan to rest the ankle as much as I can through the early part of the week. I’m not sure what a good goal is yet. Under 100 minutes?