Gay Head 10K Race Report: An Unexpected PR!

It’s always fun to do a race on Martha’s Vineyard given their low key vibe and generally beautiful views on the course, but the 2016 Gay Head 10K promised to be extra-fun because it was the first attempt at a destination race by The Heartbreakers Running Club. We headed two with a full car with R, two Heartbreakers, a fiance, and a dog on Saturday morning. It was tight, but cozy, and Lucy apparently made new friends along the way.


Of course, Hem and I took an obligatory selfie during the slightly rough crossing.


We even did some goofing around in Oak Bluffs.


Saturday night we invaded The Black Dog Tavern with almost the entire crew, which I’m sure they did not expect for an off-season Saturday night, but hopefully, despite our large presence overtaking the dining room floor, we helped make it a better-than-expected night. It was nice getting to chat with teammates in a non-run setting and to introduce R to the team. I also got to meet THE Om Gal!


Race Day kit.

Headed into the actual race I knew that my recent track workouts were suggesting that I had carried some fitness from IMMT through into the fall season and that I might be in better running shape than I let myself believe. Still, I hadn’t done a run longer than 6 miles since that race, not including cumulative mileage for a track workout, and I really wasn’t sure what the result would be for a 10K on a challenging course. In 2014, the last time I did this race, I ran 46:09, with a 44:04 at the 2014 BAA 10K (my previous PR), and 44:59 at the 2015 BAA 10K following thereafter as my only 10K attempts. I honestly didn’t know if I was going to be closer to 44 or 46, or beyond if my endurance gave out. I gave myself about 6 minutes of warm-up before getting to the start, which was packed with Heartbreakers.


“Oh, I love your hearts!” – The volunteer exclaimed.

The race started with a laugh as the started got us going with “Runners on your marks, get set! 10, 9, [racers laugh], 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, go!”


Source: Vineyard Gazette

Knowing my tendency to start races far too quickly, and the fact that we’d be hitting hills early in the race, I did my best to start conservatively and not redline immediately. A pack of about 4 teammates set off more or less around each other, everyone seeming to feel out the course before putting the pedal down. As you can see below, the race definitely calls for pacing, with fairly unrelenting hills throughout. Of course, looking at the elevation now, miles 3.5-5.5 don’t seem so bad.


My goal for the first 3 miles, which I knew had the bulk of the hills, was to try to run a pace that I could maintain on the uphills while giving a little more on the downhills. I didn’t want to either push uphill and over-exert or take it extra easy on them to try to save energy, I just wanted steady running. As it turns out, I ran 6:37, 6:40, 6:38 for those 3 miles.

Making the only turn on the course at Moshup Trail, I saw that I was gaining on a teammate, which helped me focus on maintaining my pace and not letting up, despite some unexpected inclines along the way. As I passed him, we exchanged a few words of encouragement, but sadly his ankle was hurting too much to stick with me and I forged ahead, trying to track down the next Heartbreaker.

Gay Head 10K Map.jpg

Miles 4-5.5 were reasonably enjoyable, trying to stay steady while using the oceanscape immediately to the left of me as a distraction when needed. I did my best to try to catch the eventual female winner, and a Heartbreaker, but she had legs on the last hill that I could not muster. The race really gets tough right about mile 5.5 when the course begins its final climb up to the Gay Head lighthouse, with gradients in between 3-5.8% at times. I did my best to push as hard as I could, but I could really feel myself dying and got passed by a couple high school kids along the way. Where miles 4 and 5 were 6:37 and 6:52, mile 6 was 7:22. But after the final climb, you hit a brief, steep downhill to the finish for maybe 0.1 miles to the finish.


Final Time: 42:19, which made for a 1:45 PR and my first time averaging under 7 minute pace on the road for anything over 5K. I’m not even sure I’ve run this fast on a flat treadmill, come to think of it. In any event, I was really happy with the result, and it’s made me start to wonder just what I’d really be capable of right now in running, especially at the 5K distance.


PR happiness.

Maybe it’s time to take another crack at breaking 20 sometime soon? Until then, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing, maybe fewer doughnuts mixed in, but continuing the track workouts that seem to be paying such great dividends!


Source: Vineyard Gazette



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