I just finished my first 10k (and second race) at the 15th Annual Ojai's Classic Heart & Sole.

Danielle and I got up at 6:30, and out the door just before 7. We easily found a parking spot close by. We comfortably picked up our stuff, used the restrooms, and warmed up just a little and stretched.

We lined up near the back since our main goal was just to finish. I thought it realistic to finish before the first 5k finisher (the 5k started 1 hour after the 10k). I was secretly hoping to finish in under an hour. The starting signal was a siren, and when the noise began the mass of people slowly started moving. I imagine that at the front people were really running but I couldn't tell from where I was. My legs were feeling pretty heavy which worried me some. I just tried to get into my pace, but I had a hard time doing that because there were so many other people around. The problem wasn't that they slowed me down (although I passed a fair number in the first half mile or so) but rather that with everybody else running I couldn't tell whether I was running at a comfortable pace for me, or if I was just matching the speed of the person in front of me.

The beginning of the race was very pleasant. We started under a picturesque oak and ran by orange and avocado groves. I was enjoying the scenery. At the 8 minute mark I took my scheduled 1-minute walking break. Legs still felt a little heavy, but I seemed to be moving OK. At around 10 minutes I was wondering where the mile marker was, and at around 12 minutes it became clear there weren't any mile markers. I would've liked them to see how fast I was actually running, but nothing to do about it except keep on running. I reached the water stand halfway through the next walking break. Since I was quite hot by then this was very welcome. I later looked it up, and at the time of the race the temperature hovered around 80F, while the course only has occasional shade. Drank one small cup, and tossed another one on my head/shirt. I asked, but the water people didn't know how far I'd run so far.

The heaviness in my legs had disappeared by then, and I was feeling pretty good. I did start to think I hadn't hydrated quite enough, though. Somewhere in this stretch I lost interest in the scenery, and mainly just watched the road ahead of me. The steepest part of the race was here. It was maybe 50 yards where the incline was really noticeable, though. I caught a guy, and then he passed me during my walking break. Didn't see him again. Everybody was pretty spread out at this time, and it wasn't very different from just running a training run by myself. I got a little stitch in my side, but that went away. My stomach started to feel heavy, and I wondered if maybe I should've skipped my half-bagel breakfast. After a very demoralizing .1 mile out-and-back to the side of the course, I hit the water stand again. Drank another cup, and emptied another on my head which felt wonderful.

By the time of my 5th walking break at 44 minutes I had sort of zoned out. So much so that I didn't notice it was time for a break until 20 seconds later. About 4 minutes after that break I was really ready to be done. Nothing really hurt or ached. I just generally felt really fatigued. The only upside was that that the end was clearly near. Based on how long it had taken me to get to the intersection I was at it looked like I would finish in under an hour. I spent the time trying to think what to do if it was for a walking break just before the finish. On the one hand it seemed like the right thing to do was to push for the finish. On the other hand a walking break would be so very nice. I resolved to take my 54-minute break a minute early. Only after the race did I realize that there is no break at 54 minutes. It is at 53 minutes, which is what I ended up doing. A minute later some part of me thought it might be good just to walk some more rather than running more. Luckily my brain decided that what I was doing now was no worse than climbing Mt Whitney with altitude sickness, so that my legs were to keep running. They did. I could see cones in the distance, but I was just waiting for the race to be over. Two volunteers told me to have a strong finish, saying the end was "right there." Looking up, I discovered they were right, so I lengthened my stride a little and finished "strong." I remember glancing at the clock but I have no idea what it read, except that it was less than 1 hour.

Somebody gave me a bottle of water. A little bit went in my mouth, and considerably more on my head. I was feeling a little queasy, so I just walked back and forth in the shade until I felt better. Some prior experience with the same feeling prevented me from sitting down right away. Waiting for Danielle to finish, I watched the 5k start. About 10 minutes later she finished, very happy with her performance. We both got massages which definitely made me feel very nice and relaxed. I looked up my official time, which was 57:16. Running the race was pretty miserable at the end, but the feeling you get afterward is very rewarding. Came home for a breakfast of left-over crepes. Going to do a lot of nothing and eating today. Maybe I'll try another 10k later this year.