Going the Distance – Back-to-Back 10ks in Stanford and Eugene

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know I pretty much don’t do things halfway. So it won’t surprise you to know that despite having never completed a 10k distance race before I found myself entered to compete in two of them, one weekend after another. Here’s how that went.

Stanford Habitat for Humanity Home Run – 11/12 

Great race. As an alumni, I was excited for an opportunity to see the campus again and I was not disappointed: the organizers put together a scenic windy tour around Stanford. I raced in a new pair of shoes (yes, another pair!): the Vibram Five Finger Bikila’s (named after Abebe Bikila, an Ethiopian who won 1960 Olympic marathon barefoot). [1]

I LOVE my Bikilas.

They weigh about the same as my other shoes (~7 oz) and have the same shape, fit and road grip as my VFF KSO’s, but more of the New Balance Minimus MT20′s “cushioning”. I think the MT20 are better for trails and the KSO’s are more flexible / truly barefoot-feeling but the Bikilas seem to exist to help you run fast. This praise comes with a warning: they really encourage you to run with a forefoot strike, (more than the KSO’s because of the 4mm Vibram outsole) not and even as a guy who runs exclusively in minimal footwear, my calves get a serious workout every time I run with the Bikilas.

My goal for the Home Run 10k was to run a smooth race and not push myself too hard. I aimed for a 9:20 pace and was able to stay roughly on target. I definitely spent most of the run chasing middle aged runners which didn’t do particularly much for my self-esteem [2]

I ended the race on a strong kick as usual and had a great time. Below is a screenshot of my race as tracked by Runkeeper. I was happy with how it went and of course, the money went to a great cause as Habitat for Humanity was studied in Forces for Good as a high impact nonprofits.

My official time was 54:57, putting me in 116th place out of 223. See official race results here.

EWEB Run to Stay Warm – 11/20

The second weekend I took a trip up to Eugene Oregon to compete in EWEB Run to Stay Warm, their gas/electric provider’s charity race which helps householders in tough financial conditions keep the heat on during the cold Oregonian winter.

Why did I pick this race? It was featured in Runner’s World’s run of the month! And also, it gave me a chance to rideshare up and down via Ridejoy!

I was Couchsurfing in Eugene and was fortunate enough to have my host, Jesse, drive me to the center and he ended up bandit running the race (that’s Jesse in green in the picture).

First off, it’s freaking cold in Oregon. I know all the race organizers get a laugh out of the fact that not only are we helping keep the heat on through the race, but we personally are staying warm in the 37 F weather through running.

I don’t think I prepared adequately for the race and struggled quite a bit in the middle. Here’s what I learned:

  • Dress appropriately
    I knew it was going to be cold so brought a jacket and a long sleeve Under Armor shirt. Sounds reasonable except that the jacket wasn’t meant for running and the compression from the Under Armor shirt made it hard to breathe [3] I spent half the race with a bunch of crap tied around my waist, which wasn’t great. Next time I do a race in this climate I’d make sure to either have a running-specific jacket, or at least arm warmers and perhaps longer shorts or tights that fit not *too* tight.
  • Don’t drink too much coffee right before running
    I drank a big cup of coffee less than an hour before the race — it was really cold (see above) and drinking a hot beverage made me feel better in the moment. However, later in the race my stomach was not doing so great and I think it was in part because of the java.
  • Get more rest before the race
    The week leading up to the race there was a lot going on at work, so I don’t think I rested adequately, which is unfortunately a tradeoff you have to make when running a startup.

I was able to pull it together toward the end of the race and finish strong but it was definitely not easy. I am sort of amazed I finished slightly faster than the Stanford race. I definitely worked a lot harder…

Check out the differences in the splits (from Runkeeper)

Eugene Run to Stay Warm Stanford Home Run

Official finishing time was 53:57, placing 86 out of 272 runners. Official results here. Runkeeper link here.


Now that these two races are over, I’m taking a little time to rest, recharge and prepare for my next race. I’m jumping into a half marathon distance, which I’ve been told is a bit of a leap up from the 10k. We’ll see what happens! As always, I’ll keep you updated on how things go. Shoot me questions or comments down below!

FOOTNOTES


[1] I’ll be honest, I’ve coveted the Vibram Bikilas since hearing that Vibram was building a version of the shoe specifically for runners, but since I already owned KSO’s and then getting  the New Balance Minimus Trails, I didn’t feel it made sense to get another pair. But I’ve kept hearing good things from my running friends and when I got linked to a special 30% off deal, I took the plunge. [2] I’m mostly kidding – it doesn’t necessarily feel great to get passed by someone 20+ years older than you, but after reading the book Run Faster from the 5k to the Marathon, I’m heartened by the author/running coach’s rule that most runners don’t hit their peak until 30 and no matter what age you are, if you haven’t been much of a runner, it’ll take about 7 years of serious training for you to reach your lifetime best. So I confident to know there’s so much progress I can look forward to making. [3] I don’t know why but after getting this shirt as a gift, I always want to try to wear it for running, despite the fact that it’s a little too small and exerts force against my chest cavity opening and closing – making breathing just that much harder. I definitely learned my lesson this time.