After running the TXU energy 10k in November I immediately looked at my December running schedule and tried to scout some races that would fit nicely in within my schedule. The only race between now and marathon day that fit the bill was the Houston Homeless 10k. The strategy would be to once again use this race as a workout.
The Friday before race day I was scheduled to do 7 easy miles. It didn't happen. I came down with food poisoning and was puking all morning and had to miss the first half of work. My wife and son took great care of me during this time, but by now I was thinking that I was probably going to have to skip this race. I didn't eat until evening but I still felt pretty terrible. The very next morning I was going to skip the Kenyan Way long run due to the previous days experiences. But I felt close enough to normal to give it a go. I ended up doing my scheduled 13 mile run. I ended up doing it at around 6:55 pace which was probably faster than what I should have been doing but I was feeling good. After the run I felt I probably expended too much energy considering the previous days experiences but I had made my decision to run the 10k anyway. After all it was only supposed to be a work out and I could throttle the effort level down if I needed to.
I arrive at the race Sunday with mixed emotions. Part of me wanted to be here and part of me didn't. After it all it was pretty chilly, a long drive, and my stomach was still in knots. Considering my stomach situation and the fact that I spent Friday spewing stuff up and eating very little, running too hard on Saturday, I didn't expect a consistent effort. I expected my legs to probably give way at about mile 4 or 5. I was expecting to run somewhere in the mid 35 range. That would have been fine. There were no speed demons at the race and that was fine by me. I only needed to be concerned with my own circumstances and what I was trying to do. I saw Barry Chambers, a fellow Strider, and he informed that the course was the same course as the Bayou City Classic 10k(Downtown course).
The race started and there was a guy that took it out pretty aggressive for the first 3 quarters of a mile. After that he faded away and I was by myself from now on. I took it out kind of slow and conservative and hit a pretty good size hill headed out toward Memorial. I hit the first mile at around 5:44 which was way too slow for me so I decided be more aggressive the second mile which I hit at 5:28. The third mile I hit at around 5:28. Right about now I was working, but I wasn't fatigued yet but was wondering where my legs would be at the end of the race, especially with the upcoming undulating hills. At mile 4 I had my first obstacle to deal with. My shoelaces had come untied on my right shoe and now I was wondering whether I should stop and tie it. I decided against it and just to run through it, but the more I ran the more the shoe loosened up and I began to worry about completely running out of my shoe. I decided that if this were to happen then so be it, I'll run and wait till my shoe forces me to tie it. Now mind you, I was in no danger of losing this race. The second place guy was probably 5 minutes behind, I have no idea. It just goes against my inclination to stop in a race. So I just ran on completing mile 4 at 5:30. At mile 5 I started to realize that the race was near to an end and I decided to put more "oomph" into it and completed this at 5:27. On mile 6 there was a big hill that I had to run up to exit Memorial. By this time my legs were pretty tired and I felt a little strain in my hamstrings. At this time I decided to acknowledge the fatigue and slow it down up the hill and then to just cruise it in if I had to. I finished mile 6 at 5:47. As I got up and over the hill a got a burst of energy so I decided to pick up the pace again for the last .2 miles and ran it at 5:18 pace. As I looked at the clock at the finish line coming in I was stunned that I ran the course in under 35. I finished officially at 34:53.
I'll take that time under those conditions. It will be interesting to see what time I will run when I actually taper for the race. But for now I'll just have to settle for these tempo runs.