I ran the Pumpkin Pie 10K race in Denver on November 19, 2022. My official finishing time was 45:03, for an average pace of 7:15 per mile, good for 34th place overall and 2nd in my age group. Also, a dog bit me in the ass.
As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I signed up for the Houston Half-Marathon in January 2023. In order to get placed into a “seeded” start corral at that race, I needed a qualifying time on a certified course at another half-marathon or a 10K by November 30th. This Pumpkin Pie 10K was the only 10K I could find on a certified course prior to the deadline. I wasn’t sure what time I could achieve for 10K, but all I needed to “qualify” was sub-51 minutes. Sounded easy enough, though the thought of racing a 10K at any pace unsettled me. I like racing, but 10Ks are death. Out of fear, I thought, “I can just do a hard jog and still get under 51 minutes.” But my coach convinced me to treat it like a real race and go all-out.
The day before the race it snowed like 6-8 inches, and temperature on race morning was about 25 degrees, so not ideal conditions. The course itself was a couple of winding loops through a park, and when I scoped it out pre-race, it was covered in ice. Again, not ideal.
Warming up for the race, I was jogging through the couple of thousand participants and spectators at the start line when a dog jumped up and bit me. I was so startled and the owner was a complete ass about it. I said, “your dog just bit me!” She replied, “oh, you’re really gushing blood. You shouldn’t have run by so close.” I was incredulous. I really should have done more (in fact, in Colorado you’re required to report all dog bites to the Department of Health, but I didn’t know that at the time). I ran off to the sounds of the owner disparaging me to her friend, and now it was five minutes before the race and I was discombobulated.
I was still thinking about the dog incident as the gun goes off for the start. The course was narrow, crowded, and icy, and within 400 meters I see a teenager slip and fall. I nearly fall. People are dodging ice, cutting in front of others, it’s kind of a mess. There’s a u-turn about a mile in that bottlenecks and people are cutting it. I’m running ok, thinking, “this doesn’t feel as bad as I thought it would.” My strategy had been to not go out too hard and I’m feeling pretty good.
Eventually the crowd thins out and it’s easier to navigate the ice. Did I mention there was a lot of ice? At one point, a woman directly in front of me falls hard on a patch of ice. I think about stopping to help but her partner is right there tending to her so I continue. I nearly slip myself several more times rounding corners or just taking wrong steps.
The 5K racers are finishing and I have another loop, which is actually kind of nice because the second loop is much less crowded and easier to navigate. I fall in with a couple of women half my age and we are leapfrogging each other throughout the last 5K. But now we come back up on the 5K walkers and it’s almost worse than before. Mile five of a 10K and we’re suffering and trying to avoid strollers and toddlers and the five-abreast plus-size women. On ice. There’s also some guy who sprints past me, then jogs, then sprints past me, then jogs. Bro is doing fartlek as his race strategy.
I see Jessica a few times on the course and she offers encouragement. The course seems awfully circuitous. And crowded. And icy. Finally, the finish. I’m worried about my hamstrings and the ice and the crowd, so my sprint finish isn’t much of a sprint. Looking at my watch, trying to do math, I’m hoping to get under 45 minutes. But I don’t.
Between the dog and the ice and the course and the crowd, not the best experience, but I remember that I actually like racing. Racing sucks but racing is also invigorating. My finish time and pace is better than I hoped for, and I achieved my “qualifying” goal, so I’m pleased. I go home and eat a stack of pancakes.