I ran the Tenacious 10 yesterday in North Seattle. It’s a 10-mile and a 10K race sponsored by Oiselle. Oiselle is a running clothes company based in Seattle founded and run primarily by women, including famous former elite runners Lauren Fleshman and Kara Goucher. I own a few Oiselle articles of clothing, but to be honest I haven’t loved it as much as the Sugoi and Nike stuff I own. Nevertheless, I like what they stand for and always wish them well. I’d been thinking about running this race, but there are a lot of race options in late April and early May, so I’d been on the fence. After not actually finishing the 5K last weekend, however, I decided to sign up, and I’m glad I did.
The race started at 8 am in Gas Works Park, so it was a solid 30 minute drive from my house. I nearly missed the start of the race last weekend, and I was worried about parking, so I got up at 5:30 and arrived at the race about about 6:55, and I got a rock-awesome parking spot near the start. As I was leaving the parking lot, Kara Goucher walked by me. I though, was that Kara Goucher? She works for Oiselle, right? Then I thought, no, you’re just dreaming it. But no, I saw her later, and it was DEFINITELY Kara Goucher. So cool! I picked up my number (no line) and jogged a mile warmup, and hit the portapotties (no line). Then I met up with a couple friends who were also running the race, before going out for another half mile or so of jogging.
At the start line, there were four pace groups, 7:00, 7:30, 8:00 and 9:40 mpm. (9:40 works out to a sub-60 10K.) I had been thinking I’d start out at 7:45 and then speed up, but I couldn’t resist going out with the 7:30 pace group, led by Ali.soune Lee. Initially, there was a large group following the pacer, but by the end of the first mile, the group had thinned dramatically, and I’d say by the end of the second mile, we were down to 4 or 5 people. The pace felt hard to me fairly quickly, but I told myself to stick with it anyway. I resisted looking at my watch and just stuck to the pacer’s back. I find this approach works really well for me. I knew the second mile would be the hilliest section, and there was in fact an incline at the end of the first mile, but I powered up it. (The one disadvantage of a pace group is they tend to go faster up hills and slower down hills than you would naturally.) From the hill on, I was definitely significantly uncomfortable, and at times it felt really hard to stay with the pacer. Still, I just stuck with it, and the second mile mark came surprisingly quicker.
One thing I loved about this race was how many fast women were participating. Lauren Fleshman (NCAA champion 5K and former professional runner) led the 7 mpm pace group. Kara Goucher won the 10 mile. During the race itself, 90% of the participants were women, and in the early miles, as far as I could see there were women booking it in front of me, women in my pace group, and of course, lots of women behind me. Normally in races I find myself surrounded by mostly men. It was inspiring to participate in an event with so many fast women runners, and women runners in general.
Miles three and four passed in a blur of discomfort but not pain. At the third mile mark, I noted that the pace was a little hot; we were actually going faster than 7:30 pace, more like 7:20. I tried not to panic that I was going too fast and reminded myself that all things considered, I was feeling pretty good. I worried that the endurance lost of the last month of slacking would come back to bite me in the last mile or so, but so far so good. In fact, halfway through, I felt better than I did during the first mile. Mile four came, and I now was pretty committed to hanging on as long as I possibly could.
At mile 5, the 10-mile (as opposed to 10K) runners split off and I thanked my lucky stars that I was running 10K. We had to run up a short hill, but the pacer told me it would be downhill from there. At this point, there were only three of us running together, me, the pacer, and another woman. We’d caught up with the other woman, and I was the only one left of the original pace group, other than the pacer herself. She started trying to chat to me, and I basically just did not have the air to speak. -Where are you from? Gasp, puff, new – puff – castle She talked a bit about the weather and the scenery, and I just really could not respond. She also was really encouraging and letting me know what the course looked like, and I greatly appreciated it. I honestly, in retrospect, feel like I could have gone a bit faster that last mile, but maybe not. I was checking my watch every couple tenths of a mile, and the smallest upward incline felt like a mountain. The woman we’d caught up with pulled away again, we headed back into the park, and I upped the pace a fraction across the line.
My watch measured 6.15, short of 0.2, and the course isn’t USATF certified, so I’m going with that distance, though many other runners did clock 6.2 or more on Strava. 6.15 miles / 45:11 / 6:20 mpm. Honestly, I’m thrilled. After my half, I’d wondered if I could break 45, but after two colds, some kind of flu bug, and a pulled calf muscle over the last 6 weeks, I’m delighted with how fast I was able to go. Going in, I really had no confidence I could even hold 7:30. Of course, I kind of wish I could have gone just a fraction faster and dipped under 45, but that’s a goal for next time. I actually have a 10K planned for a couple weeks from now, and now I know what to aim for.
After the race, I picked up a doughnut, and I stood and cheered for people until my friend came in 15 minutes later at about 60 minutes. I usually am too tired to cheer after a race, but I wanted to catch my friend and wasn’t exactly sure how fast she was going, and I actually really enjoyed standing on the line cheering for people. People cheering me on really helps me, so it was fun to do some cheering for once. I also saw Kara Goucher charge through and win the 10-miler.
All in all, it was a great race and worth the steep last-minute entry fee ($75!). I’ll do it again next year if I possibly can.