Sunday, August 22, 2010

Race summary: 2010 Dirty Sock 10K

Spying the finish line was a most welcome sight
Dirty Sock Run: 6.2 miles (10K) at 9:37 (net)

I had high hopes for a better performance than last year at today's Dirty Sock 10K. My training had gone well and I've been pacing regularly in the mid 8-minute range.  I took the last two days off from running and carefully timed my nutrition this morning for optimal benefit. This set an expectation that I'd beat last year's time, at least by a little. The Dirty Sock course is a (mostly) out and back route that begins along the western trail, runs north, circles Belmont Lake and returns the same way (except for the last 1.2 miles). The trails are well groomed, not at all technical, and while there are numerous elevation changes, most are within a 1% grade up or down. This is a great course to run at a moderate pace in the company of friends. Running it as a race, with humidity levels approaching 100%, it begins to feel less fun.

Our day started early and we arrived for registration an hour before the start. The earlier rain had slowed to a drizzle but I still had concerns about its return. The race setup was similar to last year and there's always comfort in knowing what to expect. I was disappointed that there were no bagpipers at the starting line this year but there were many people milling around, stretching, warming up and catching up with friends. My daughter and I took a walk up the trail to look for the starting line and when we returned we found my wife and son chatting with DaveADK, a friend from last year's Dirty Sock Run. Dave had a foot issue and is on the good side of recovering from an eye problem so it was great to see him there. A little later I ran into BJS who ran a practice run with me on the Dirty Sock course a few weeks ago. We walked back to the trail head together where I found Team Emerging Runner awaiting my return. I told them "See you at the finish line" and BJS and I made our way to the starting line. The trail is fairly wide but with 500 people queuing for the start it gets fairly crowded. When the gun went off it took us half a minute to reach the starting line and then we were off. BJS and I conversed for most of the first mile but the density of runners and the narrowness of the trail made it difficult from there.

I made my way past many runners and felt like I was doing better than I did last year. I caught up with DaveADK who was cruising along well and then I caught up with a group of other runners as I ran under the route 27 viaduct. Soon after I encountered race officials on bikes who were yelling "Move to the right!" as the lead runners came by on their way back from circling the lake. By the time I reached Belmont Lake I was feeling the humidity and the effort and while I was tired I knew I had enough left to complete the course. How fast I could do that was another story. I ran in my Helly Hansen's today because I thought the rain would make the trails too muddy for my Brooks. The trail condition stayed excellent throughout the race and I would have done fine in the Adrenalins after all. No harm done, the Helly's did a great job too.

I grabbed water a couple of times, they had an impressive number of water stations that helped greatly in the humid conditions. I had brought a box of raisins as a late race booster and had a small handful  as I passed the mile 5 marker. I think that made a difference because I was growing fatigued and a few people were passing me. I resumed my pace and re-passed some that had overtaken me, all the time thinking that I was about to run the longest 1.2 miles I'd run this year. Just like last year it seemed to take forever to travel the scenic last mile of this race, past the lower lake and over trails that wound and wound until FINALLY, I saw daylight and heard the race announcer on the PA. Unlike last year when I felt like I could not have run another foot longer than necessary to finish, this morning my speed just felt constrained near the end. As I approached the finish line I saw my daughter and then my wife and son and crossed the line with almost the same time as last year. Dave and BJS followed me in very soon after, hard efforts all around.

I'm sure the humidity had something to do with my slower than expected time. It was truly brutal but everyone was up against the same conditions this morning. It was my 10th race since returning to running almost two years ago and I left the event feeling good about competing, even though I really only compete with myself.  As soon as I see my family waiting for me at the finish line the memory of hard effort gives way to a feeling of accomplishment and that's why I do it. Before I know it, I'll be running the Great Cow Harbor 10K. It will be my first 10K on pavement and the course presents some real hill challenges. I need to increase my distances on my longer training runs to get more performance into the last few miles. That's for another day, now it's time to relax and enjoy the feeling of a good race run hard.


  1. Well done. Based on your preceding weeks it looks like the humidity was the culprit. Nice that you finished strong this year. All it takes is a little math right? "Every 10 degree difference above 60 at the same relative humidity = 35 seconds per mile"

    - The Running Geek

  2. I'm going to do Cow Harbor also. Let me know if you want to do a long run together. Maybe we could meet at Bethpage sometime.

  3. Humidity was definitely a factor though the heat was moderate. I was fine with my time although I was hoping to see some year over year improvement. Can't wait for the cooler weather!

    Dave - sounds good. Maybe this coming weekend? Bethpage bike trail is always a challenge but also a great training ground.

  4. So bummed I couldn't run it this year. Hopefully next year I can come back strong and I'll run into you again. Sorry you didn't run as well as you had liked.

    It was definitely a humid day but at least it wasn't as hot as it was last year.

  5. Sorry you weren't there - hopefully next year. It was plenty humid though. I think I drank 40 oz of water after the race!


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