2013 B.A.A. 10K Race Report

Whew, that was a hot one!  The summer racing season officially kicked off for me with the BAA 10K, the third running of the race and the second leg of the BAA Distance Medley.  This race had particular significance because it was the first BAA race after the Boston Marathon.  As a result, the race sold out in record time, with runners around the state, and maybe even country, eager to defy any suggestion that the attacks have changed the way we live and race in Boston.  The BAA encouraged runners to show their pride by wearing yellow and blue, so I debuted my Hanson’s Yellow Team Brooks singlet, which is quite yellow and Brooks HVAC Synergy Short II shorts in blue.  On my feet were the Brooks Pure Connect IIs, in which I hadn’t yet run over 5K.  I ended up being quite happy with the Connects for the 10K distance, though I’m not quite sure if I could get away with them for a half marathon.

Despite very much wanting to participate in this show of spirit, I have to admit that I wasn’t really looking forward to the actual race.  Ever since the TARC 50K, I’ve been struggling to come back from an IT band injury.  I haven’t been happy with my fitness and I think the injury caused me to overcompensate in a way that has made my quads feel like rocks.  Some runs have just felt like I’ve been running underwater.  Generally speaking, I don’t like to race when I don’t feel like I can shoot for a result I’ll be happy with.  But, as Rebecca reminded me, it would be quite silly to waste an entry fee, especially when I would have taken a spot someone else would have wanted in the sold out race.  So, with about a week to go, I made the commitment to myself, and put it in writing to new coach Will Feldman, that I was going to do the race and use it as a test of my fitness.  I might not get a time that I’d be super-excited about, but at least I’d know where I was in my progress, and where I had to go.

As per usual, we didn’t get out of the house when we wanted to and ended up in a bit of a mad dash to the start, which did give me a chance to get in a quick warm-up jog without then having a long wait to when the race would actually take off.  In what I believe was a new feature to the race, there would be multiple waves based on projected time.  Although runners were free to put themselves wherever they wanted, for once it seemed like everyone did a fairly good job of lining up in an accurate corral.  I went to the back of Wave 1, which had a projected pace of 7:00-7:59/mile.  I honestly could not say I had any clue where in that range I would end up falling, but I at least had aspirations not to fall outside of it.

As the race started on Charles St., in between the Commons and Garden, I tried to just settle into a nice little groove.  I’ve found that I perform best at the 10K distance when I feel like I’m comfortably pushing myself while staying in control of my breathing and form, unlike a 5K where I generally feel like I’m close to red-lining for most of the race or a half marathon where I know I have to keep a good amount of energy in reserve.  It really made a huge difference to be able to start with other racers that were going my pace, instead of having to fight through people who put themselves too far up as I was mostly able to avoid the weaving and dodging that is commonplace at these larger races, particularly so with the BAA 5K.  Though relatively flat overall, the first hill on the course comes when running under Mass Ave.  I’m really not sure why, but this little bump has always thrown me off.  Knowing that, I tried to power through it and maintain some momentum after the hill.  I think it worked as a mental trick.

To call the course interesting would be a lie.  In fact, it’d be a mean lie to tell someone.  It’s an out and back race, largely along Commonwealth Ave.  One nice aspect of the course though is that there are markers for each kilometer, which makes you feel like you’re steadily making progress.  As we made the turn from Bay State Rd. on to Comm a little after the Mile 2 marker, the main hill of the course loomed before us.  Essentially, there is a long gradual incline up Comm to the Mile 3 marker, at which point you hit a cone and then head back down.  What I love about this part of the race is that, depending on where you are in the field, you get a close-up view of the elites streaming past you.  This proved to be a great distraction from the hill and I didn’t mind expending some energy to cheer them on, particularly Americans Jason Hartman, fourth place at Boston and first American, and local fast dude Nate Jenkins.  I also saw running club friend, Shannon, a Goon Squad Runner, and a few GLRR runners, all on the opposite side of the cones from me as they made their way on to the finish.  Focusing on the distractions, the hill didn’t seem so bad this year, despite the sun beating down on us, but I knew there was still a long way to go to the finish.

I really felt like I was beginning to falter as I made my way downhill on Comm.  It doesn’t really help that you can see a bump up in the road at the end of the downhill, which, at least for me, killed any momentum I might have built up.  I could also feel my quads starting to yell at me, but not to the point where they felt like they were locking up.  I have to think that there was a combination of pure fatigue and heat fatigue working on me at this point, especially as there was no shade relief to be had on this part of the course.  I did my best to keep my rhythm going but knew that my better miles of the race were behind me.  I only hoped that I had banked enough time early on to maintain a decent overall pace.  Sadly I wasn’t able to see Rebecca as she made her way along the course, but at least keeping an eye out for her provided another welcome distraction from the road ahead.

Action shot...somewhere...on the course.

Action shot…somewhere…on the course.

Once more through the pass under Mass Ave and we were on what I call the Alphabet Section of Comm Ave.  The streets in the Back Bay section of Comm go down from H to A (Hereford to Arlington) meaning it’s very easy to know exactly how many blocks you have to go on the street.  I did my best to avoid looking at the street signs but only made it to Dartmouth.  Still, the end of the street was in sight.  I was happy to see a large crowd of people at the turn, but dismayed at their enthusiasm.  If you’ll allow a brief digression here, I feel compelled to comment on the state of crowds at road races.  For the record, I’m totally cool with races that feature no crowd support, it’s always a bonus to have it there.  I enjoy some races like the Hartford Half Marathon because there isn’t a constant crowd, so you can settle in, but in the sections where there are people, they cheer vociferously.  The contrast is nice.  For most of the BAA 10K there were few people along the course.  However, in contrast to Hartford, when I came upon a large contingent of people, they were largely silent.  Everyone is standing around looking at their phones waiting for the specific people they came to cheer, and not cheering on anyone else.  This is a completely foreign concept to me, especially at a BAA race.  I took it upon myself to urge the crowd to make some noise, and, to their credit, the people responded.  I even had a runner thank me after the race for doing so, so I guess I wasn’t alone in my feelings.

Running down Commonwealth Ave. towards the finish!

Running down Commonwealth Ave. towards the finish!

In any event, back to the final kilometer of the race, which takes you around the Public Garden on Arlington and Boylston St. before a final straightaway to the finish on Charles St.  That last straight always feels terribly long, and with the sun taking its merciless toll I struggled to find one last reserve of energy from which to summon a kick.  I finished the race in 47:27, a 7:39 pace, which I was surprised to later learn was 14 seconds better than last year’s race.

Race Results

With my medal!

With my medal!

I’ll take the early season result as encouragement that my fitness level isn’t quite as terrible as it feels and keep pressing forward with my training.  I’m glad Rebecca encouraged me to go through with the race, even in the sweltering conditions.  We enjoyed a nice brunch after at Joe’s American Bar & Grill with Rebecca’s Reach The Beach teammate Vanessa and her BU Law boyfriend, Ramon.  A race and brunch?  Makes a pretty great Sunday for me!

Me and Becca Post Race

Rebecca and me post-race in all our medaled glory!

Run Happy!


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One Response to “2013 B.A.A. 10K Race Report”

  1. Run To Munch Says:

    Great race report!

    The underpass tunnel can always be brutal.

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