The Sun Run is the official start to the Southern Arizona Roadrunners Grand Prix series. Both a 5K and 10K are offered. It’s a “pancake flat” course around Reid Park with a pancake breakfast served afterwards. The course and cool temperatures should yield fast times, but I am never in peak shape this time of the year. All of my PRs have been set at the Cinco de Mayo 10K, even though it’s a much tougher course. I think I am still dealing with the after effects of the marathon I ran five weeks ago, but found some encouragement in my workouts this week. I’m starting to get some pep back and was anxious to see how this run would go.
A night owl like me appreciates the 9 AM start time. I woke up at a very civilized 7:20. As the season progresses, races start earlier and earlier in an attempt to beat the desert heat. This was not a problem today. The event’s website says that the temperature is typically 55 degrees. When I arrived, my car’s thermometer read 28. I came prepared, wearing tights, my short-sleeved Ragnar shirt, arm warmers, gloves, a headband that covered my ears, and a jacket. I got my bib quickly, and then chatted with some friends. Putting my bib on was a challenge because I did not want to take my gloves off!
I headed back to my car for a bit to enjoy the relative warmth, had a Chocolate Cherry Clif Shot (I already had a Luna bar and hot black tea before leaving the house), and then headed out for my warm-up run. Almost immediately, I felt the urge to use the bathroom. When I saw the lines at the port-o-potties, I decided to run to another area of the park where I knew there were bathrooms instead. It took me longer to get there than I thought, so I had to hustle on the way back. I threw my jacket on the car, dashed to the start line and made it with a few minutes to spare.
It was a little bunchy at the start, but thinned out quickly. The 5Kers had a separate start about a quarter mile away (one of my friends almost ran the wrong race!). I ran the first mile at what felt like a decent but controlled pace. I passed Steve (Ragnar captain) and my friend Shane. Steve always starts slow and then finishes ahead of me. I hadn’t raced Shane in a while, and he’s been improving tremendously as of late. They both ended up passing me before too long. At the first mile, I thought my watch said I was few seconds over 8, but when I reviewed my Garmin data at home, it read 7:35. Maybe I was looking at the wrong field or something. My mindset at the time was to pick up the pace because I knew even if I wasn’t at full capacity, I could go faster than 8.
The next few miles were about getting into a groove. I could see Shane’s bright orange jacket up ahead. Come to think of it, bright orange was everywhere that morning. While this course is about as flat as you’ll find outside of a track race, there was a gentle upward trend for miles two and three. I swiped a quick drink at the water station. After mile three, the course started to slope slightly downward and I tried to take advantage. People were passing me here and there and I wasn’t passing anyone. My heart rate was right where it should be for a 10K. One of the women who passed me had a bouncy running style, and I hoped that she would get tired and that I would be able to catch her. I concentrated on running smooth and getting my feet off the ground quickly.
In the sixth mile, my focus wandered a bit. When I saw my split of 8:10, I knew I needed to pick it up. The last .2 miles were a miserable push, which is the way it should be. A couple more people surged passed me and I couldn’t catch them. I heard a few friends cheering for me, which is always nice. I finished 7th in my age group with a 49:01.
In conclusion, there was plenty of sun at the Sun Run, even if there wasn’t much heat. Former Olympic Trials Marathon runners Craig (30:00), Gina (36:33), and Paula (36:47) tore up the course. Shane matched his 5K pace. My friends Tia, Stu, Melody, Cindy, Chris, Pam, and Keith all picked up age group awards. There was some tough competition in my age group today and even my current PR would not have cut it. I was disappointed that my pace today (7:53) was slower than my Half Marathon pace from last November (7:38). On the other hand, I had improved from 8:09 pace I ran at this race two years ago. I know that all races can’t be fantastic, so I’ve just got to trust the training and keep on running.
Race data: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/261917934