Kevin Whirlwind Horse was a Native American student at Black Hills State University who was killed in a car accident over 20 years ago. For the past 23 years, a scholarship has been awarded in his name to a Native American sophomore at BHSU and this race (which also includes a 5K, 1 mile walk, 1/2 mile kids run, and 1/4 mile little kids run) is one of the fundraisers. A worthy cause for sure made even more worthy for me personally since one of my friends was the recipient of the scholarship this year.
I ran this race last year as a final tune-up for the Fargo Marathon. I finished with a 41:15, which still stood as my 10K PR. I also finished 4th in my AG, just one spot out of the hardware. According to the McMillan Running Calculator, to be capable of achieving the bare minimum BQ time of 3:10:59, I should be able to clock a 10K in 40:42. However, I just ran a 10K time trial a couple of weeks ago where I laid down a 40:18. This was both a blessing and a curse. It was definitely good to see that my speed has improved over the past year, but 18 seconds is tantalizingly close to a sub-40 10K, something I didn't expect to come so close to achieving at this point. So now, a PR in itself wouldn't necessarily be acceptable in my mind; it would have to also be a sub-40 for me to truly be pleased with the race. Such are the trials and tribulations of being a helpless running addict....always looking for a bigger, better high. In any case, my goals for the race were: 1) Don't hurt myself. Colorado is just two weeks away, after all. 2) PR. 3) sub-40. 4) Win some hardware (this would probably go hand in hand with #3).
The race started at Salem Park in Spearfish and the course followed the Spearfish Creek bike path, which winds through Spearfish from north to south, eventually taking you out of town and depositing you onto Highway 14A, which in turn takes you into Spearfish Canyon to the south of town. It's an out and back course with the 5Kers turning around at the city park and the 10Kers proceeding to a turnaround point at the mouth of Spearfish Canyon. One advantage I had is that I've run a majority of the course many times during lunch time runs over the past few months. I like knowing where the landmarks are so I can judge my pace and know where to hammer and where to hold back. The course features about 200 feet of total uphill going out and then back down for the second half, so it's conducive to a negative split.
The course wasn't marked by miles, so I was basing my pace off of 2.5K splits, knowing that for a sub-40 I had to make it to the 5K turnaround in 10 minutes or less, the halfway point in under 20 and back to the 5K turnaround in under 30. I like easy math. Because of the aforementioned nature of the course, I knew the third and fourth splits would be most critical since I could very well be a little over pace during the uphill first half, but hopefully would be making that time up on the way back.
The race events started with the kids' races, in which my 4 year old son ran the 1/4 mile (with me tagging along). After that 1/4 mile warmup, we lined up for the start of the 10K, 5K (which my wife, sister in law and the scholarship-winning friend were running), and 1 mile walk (thankfully, they all lined up in the back). With a ready, set, go!, we were off.
Right from the get go, I was in the top 5, but I knew that at least one of the guys in front of me was a 5K runner, so I was actually top 4. After a couple of passes in the first 2.5K, I was the 2nd overall 10Ker. I hit the 5K turnaround in a surprisingly fast 9:17. Hmmm...no wonder I feel like crap with a capital 'C'. As I tried to settle down and compose myself, I was passed by a guy in a blue shirt, dropping me to third. I would keep blue shirt guy firmly in my vision for the rest of the race, but could never muster enough push to get my position back. As I mentioned, the course is a general uphill for the first half and most of that uphill came in the second 2.5K, which was indicated by my split of 10:55, suddenly dropping me from 43 seconds ahead of sub-40 pace to 12 seconds behind. Son of a !@#$%!! But, after we turned around we were heading downhill, had the sun behind us and a slight breeze in our faces and my next two splits reflect that. I hit the 7.5K split in 9:57, dropping me to 9 seconds over sub-40 pace (and well under PR pace). I was able to get into somewhat of a comfort zone (or as comfortable as you can get in a 10K) during that second half. Blue shirt guy had built a decent lead on me, so I settled down and just focused on getting the sub-40 and PR. Finally, we reached the last straightaway back at Salem Park and with my kids, family and friends cheering me on, surged across the line with a final time of 39:17. Sub-40 and then some, baby!! I'm not screwin around with any 39:59! I ended up 3rd overall in the 10K and first in my AG.
So, in one year I've dropped 1:58 off my 10K PR on the exact same course under almost the exact same conditions. And, I accomplished all three of my aforementioned goals, including the all important #1....my legs definitely feel like they raced today, but nothing feels out of whack. My new 10K PR predicts a marathon time of 3:04:21 on McMillan's calculator. That's probably overly optimistic for me, but it certainly bodes well for my attempt to break 3:10:59 at Colorado in two weeks.
I fear the taper madness will only get worse now....
Oh, and I've gotta mention that my wife finished 2nd in her AG in the 5K, taking 30 seconds off her PR, my sister in law took first in her 5K AG and my son won the 8 and under boys 1/4 mile race! The family took home our share of the hardware today!