10K race – Epic Virtual Run

It’s time for my 10K race. My virtual 10K race of course. I signed up for my second virtual run after first doing a 5K virtual race earlier in April. My first experience with a virtual race was that it definitely pushed me harder as a normal training run would, but not as much as an actual race. The good thing though is that there are no other runners that would make me start out too fast while trying to catch up with them. 

Today is actually my second attempt of this virtual 10K. I already tried a week earlier, went out at my intended goal pace and crashed way before I reached 10K. It was hot, I was running out of water and I didn’t want to risk overheating. This is another benefit of virtual racing though. I decided at 4K I wasn’t going to manage anything close to the time I had in mind and decided to return home. If this had been an actual race I would not have ‘given up’. But now I had the possibility to go home, recover quickly since I had only run 4K at goal pace and retry again soon. 

Today’s virtual event:
Distance: 10K
Time to beat: 1:14:19
Goal time: 1:12:30

Race day preparations

Today is a regular work day. I don’t have any early meetings, so I can get away with starting a little later as usual. I do set my alarm early at 6:30 AM. Normally I’d just take a small pre-run snack before my weekday runs, but I figured I might need a little more as that today. I didn’t want to take the time and prepare a proper breakfast as that meant I also had to wait a bit for it to settle in my stomach. So, I took two pre-run snacks and off I went. 

I’m taking the same route as I did during my attempt last week. It starts in my neighborhood, heads towards the Strabrechtse Heide and turns back home through the forest. It has two small ‘hills’ as I need to cross a highway twice via a bridge. 

The race

The start of the race is at the beginning of a seemingly random street in my neighborhood. I start my watch and here we go. Race time. I tell myself not to start out too fast and I seem to be listening well. In order to reach my goal time I should be maintaining an average pace of 7:15 min/km. To beat my current time I should keep a pace of 7:26 min/km. I run the first kilometer at 7:45 min/km. Room to grow as Coach Greg would say. 

I head towards a small part of the route that’s a bit more sandy and uneven as the rest, but after that I find a good, consistent pace. I’m running now at 7:13, 7:13, 7:09 min/km. Assuming I can manage a strong finish, I’m still on schedule. At the 4th kilometer I think about last week’s attempt. This is where I gave up last week. This is where I turned left instead of continuing forward. For a second I consider going left. This is hard, what am I doing to myself? Why? My legs feel strong though and until this point I hadn’t felt any doubt about finishing my run. I continue forward. 

The second hill is coming up. Don’t go too fast now. Go slow up the hill and fly down again. I remember from my bridge race last year that when I go slow up the hill, I overtake most of the people again when going downhill that passed me going up. As I’m going downhill I cross ways with a cyclist on an e-bike flying up the hill. He gives me a thumbs up and I attempt a smile while waving. That’s probably all the race day encouragement I’m going to get today. I paced it well as I ran this kilometer at 7:19 min/km. 

My stomach is suddenly protesting. I’m feeling weird cramps I’ve never felt while running. Should I have eaten more? Less? What about my water intake? The pain is getting worse and I have to stop for a few seconds for it to calm down. I can continue shortly, but this cost me too much time. Soon my watch tells my I ran this kilometer at 7:43 min/km. Bye bye goal time. Or maybe I can manage an extra strong finish…? 

I finally turn towards the forest. I know it’s 2,5K from one side of the forest to the other, because I’ve ran here so often. I forgot to check my watch as I enter the forest though, you’ll find out in a minute why this was a mistake. 

It’s a little damp now and I’m struggling more and more. I keep telling myself to keep going and don’t give up my pace is suffering. There will be no strong finish today. I’m getting 7:26, 7:35 and 7:39 paces now. Did I go fast enough in the beginning to make up for this slow down? My goal time is definitely out of reach now, but maybe I can still hit my PR. I had to stop once more to get rid of cramps and I’m blaming yesterday’s burritos for this. Not so smart choice. 

The end of the road is coming up, this is my finish line! Literally the end of the cycling lane in the woods and I’ve used it as a finish line of my training runs often. I’m pretending there is a crowd cheering me on towards it. I’m almost there and manage a small sprint. Yes, I’m there! I check my watch and look at it in shock for a second. I’m not there. Crap. Okay, move! As I try to sprint away again, my legs are protesting and I need to check for cars as I’m now crossing a road. Crossing is clear, move faster now. I have about 150 meters left, which doesn’t sound like much. I did already run 9.850 meters, but it sure feels far away! My mental finish line was so much more fun as this. Finally, I ran the full 10K and stopped my watch. Done. 

Summary

Another virtual race that ended in a bit of a disappointment. Goal time not reached and PR not beaten either. Today’s time was my third fastest 10K at 1:14:34, just 15 seconds slower as my fastest 10K. Well, at least I tried? If some things had gone just a little differently, I would’ve at least beaten my PR and maybe even gotten close to my goal time. It’s within reach, it just wasn’t today. 

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