2010 Tour des Fleurs 10K

2010 Tour des Fleurs 10K
You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control how you respond.

A wise man once told me that.  Several times, in fact.  And although I was listening, I didn’t comprehend them until just now.

Several nights ago, I had drinks with my head coach Patton, who had been repeating that same advice to several people as their stories of the Chicago Marathon filtered down to him.  It was once again a spicy morning in Chi-town, and many runners who had trained strong in Texas wilted in the midwest heat.  Most were down and looked to Patton and other coaches for encouragement.  And the best advice was once again repeated: “Control how you respond.”

Those stories reminded me of the Tour des Fleurs, the first of many fall long-distance events in the DFW area.  Every year the Tour occurs in September.  And every year the Tour is God-awful humid, thanks to being on that painfully-long cusp between summer and fall.  Starting line temperatures are routinely in the high 70s F and humidity resides several ticks above that.  And without fail, I always make the mistake of thinking that I will run a PR in those conditions.  But this year I pulled an Apple, and I thought different.

For one, instead of running the 20K, I was attempting the 10K course for the first time.  I was fully capable of running the full distance, but I had family in town and didn’t want to waste the whole morning at the lake.  Also, I didn’t have an official 10K in my record book. The only other time I ran such a distance, it was the 2009 Nike Human Race, an untimed event that I ended up finishing in 55:00 flat.

My plan for the Tour was to run the first half at a PR pace, then at the halfway point come to Jesus about the remainder of the race.  If a PR was realistically in reach, I would kick it into fifth gear.  Otherwise, I would drastically dial back my pace.  There would be other days for PRs, and I promised my family that I would always take care of myself.

Before the race, I decompressed at the Luke’s Locker tent, hanging out with such luminaries as Patton, Lee and Isis of Running Couple fame, my second-ever coach Kerry, my former athlete Libby, and Karen from the Plano store.

Luckily, Patton did not have a goal for the morning besides enjoy the run, so I was able to secure his services as my personal pacer.  I can’t remember the last time I ran a long distance with him, so hanging out with Mr. In-Demand for a solid hour was a great privilege.

The race started out fine, and we were able to quickly get through the crowd.  It was uneventful up to the 5K mark. A check of Chuck (my Garmin) showed I was a minute behind PR pace at the 5K mark.  Not surprising. That lag, combined with the hills ahead, convinced me to dial it back and take things easy.

However, I had gone out harder than I thought, as I was soaked with sweat from the effort.  This is always a bad sign — it means I was having trouble regulating my core temperature.  This usually leads to a handful of problems, including chills, breathing issues, and a post-race sour stomach.  Patton was great at encouraging me to concentrate on form and breathing, as I was distracted physically.  Breathe, glide, rinse, repeat. That’s what got me to the end with strong form.

I crossed the finish line at 1:02, a respectable effort for a 10K in such sticky conditions.  My post-race ultra-feast consisted of a banana, slice of pizza, breakfast taco, chocolate milk, and cherry-limeade slush from Sonic.  Consuming mass quantities: one of the reasons I run!