This past Saturday was my first timed/official/paid-entry run, the Charles Harris 10K in NE Atlanta.
After not having run since high school, I started running last November as a supplement to biking. With 22 runs under my belt, slowly increasing in mileage to about 9k (heres a look at most of them), a 10k seemed like a reasonable thing to conquer. My last run before the race was last Monday with my friend Jim. I've biked with him a lot over the last year (6 Gap for example) but this was my first run with him, and he has a bad habit of running marathons so I wasn't sure what to expect. Things worked out pretty well and he commented that I seemed to be running faster than I told him we would be, which was a sign that my Nike+ might not be as calibrated as I'd hoped.
Early Saturday morning I set out in sub-freezing temperatures to meet up with 1400 people that I don't know to run down Lawrenceville highway. There were a lot more really young looking people and really old looking people than the somewhat generic crowd that I'm used to seeing at biking events, and the number of people standing in the 30F weather in nothing more than shorts and t-shirts was a little unsettling. I had on long running pants, two long sleeve shirts, gloves, and a fleece hat, and was pretty cold. It ended up being the right amount of warmth for the run, but I'd probably leave the hat at home next time.
Bus ride, wait in gym, and walk to the starting line over, I found a place about in the middle of the pack and got mentally prepared to take off at 7:45 sharp, but that time came and went. At about 7:50 or so there was a very quiet pop that turned out to the starting gun and 20 seconds or so later the people around me started moving. The first 15 minutes was a mess of passing people and slowly squeezing down from 4 lanes of road to one lane, but after that things settled in and judging by the clocks each mile, my pace was pretty consistent at a little over 8 minutes/mile. My "training" runs never were faster than 8:15/mile. I expected things to be a bit more hectic, with people tripping over each other but I didn't bump into anyone and didn't see anyone else around me trip or run into anyone else. The "place yourself in the starting pack at about where you think you'll finish" actually worked surprising well.
Throughout the run I felt pretty good, pushing a little harder than I wanted to but not too much. Some people around me were breathing like they weren't going to make it, and others seemed to be trying to stomp through the pavement with every step. The number of people running my pace all looked like pretty fit people, and I realized that this might be the most fit people I had every seen in one place. At about 9k I started feeling worse but the end was near and I didn't slow down much, and shortly crossed the finish line for my t-shirt, banana, Powerade, and some stretching.
I'm still a little sore today, but the results were just posted and I came in at 50:34 which was 27th place of 55 in men age 25-29, which was 415th of ~1400 overall. (Full Results) Thats a 8:08 mile pace for 6.2 miles which I'm pretty happy with! This time beats my goal of 54 minutes and gets me a "B" wave in the Peachtree Road Race. 34 seconds faster and I would have been in A. The Bs are the 7th wave of 24 which isn't bad for using my first time running a 10k as my qualifying time.
Given that my Nike+ only registered 9.7k, and that heart rate data for running seems like it would be more interesting over time than it is biking, I've decided to give the Garmin GPS watches a try for collecting elevation/HR/speed data over time and picked one up at REI. After seeing the results from a very casual road ride with Jim today, this would have been pretty nice to have on Saturday, but it will provide plenty of useful data in the future.
Hopefully photos will be posted soon so that I can see if I look as ridiculous running as I do kitted out on a bike!