I made it! I ran my first 10k in a (nominal) race, and I did it without stopping. I also ran faster than I thought I would.
As you might recall, Matt signed us up for the Sicklaloppet, the day after we finished the Bellman’s Relay. My goal yesterday morning, as we set out in Nacka, was to go at a pace that would get me in at 1:15, or somewhere around 7 minutes per kilometer.
The route started at the Sickla mall, with about 1500 people packed into the starting bins on the street between buildings. I positioned myself at the very very back, in the bin that was labeled >60 minutes. I stood there with a very tall, thin man, who did not look like it would take him an hour to finish. And perhaps it was a mistake: We walked forward with the pack after the starting beep, and eventually had to thread our way through the slower folks in front of us.
Maybe that was a good strategy in the end: My first kilometer took 7 minutes to complete, but I was passing people along the way, which made me feel stronger. I took the second kilometer faster, closer to 5:30 minutes, jamming down hills when I could, and passing more people. In the third kilometer, I settled into a good rhythm and kept my eye on a handful of women with whom I thought I might be able to keep pace (and one man, who dropped back, only to reappear later and pass me — grrr! My competitive spirit kicked in, but I couldn’t catch him).
Those women were great: one in black, with a crazy-fast shuffling gait, who passed me and then stayed about 50 m ahead of me; a couple of women in hot pink (readily spotted for easy following); and a woman in a purple shirt, who was just my speed. I would pass each one and then they would pass me later, which would re-energize me to go a little faster.
In the end, I managed to run closer to 6 min/km on average, which was a surprise to me. And I didn’t stop to walk (except for those moments when I slowed down to grab a drink, twice — that sports drink the first time was SO disgusting, how do people drink that stuff?). I suppose if you were to look at my speed at some points, like the uphills, it might look like I was walking — but no, really, I was “climbing the stairs,” as my friend SeraSera counsels for getting up steep inclines, as fast as I could!
And while I was tempted to stop for a photo of a gorgeous, twisted tree at one point, I just made a mental snapshot and kept going. We went through commercial zones and residential areas along Nacka’s lake, up and down hills through the woods (to the beat of steel drum music echoing over the water), past meadows and the landfill/ski hill in town (which for a moment I thought we were going to have to climb — ack!), and along a wooden boardwalk on the water that limns the new-ish weird apartment buildings along the lake.
The weather yesterday was beautiful for a running, cool and crisp under sunny blue skies. I had fun! And now I’ve started lobbying Matt for our next 10k.
Here’s Matt in action: http://www.flickr.com/photos/68030327@N02/7955119004/