Ten Thoughts About Our First 10K

by Carissa (and Jodi)

Last week Jodi and I ran the Pints to Pasta 10K in Portland, Oregon.  For all the running we've done, neither of us have ever raced a 10k before.  We were curious to see how fast we could run, where our pace would fall, and how it would feel.  A PR was guaranteed - how often can you say that?  For Jodi this meant the pressure was off and she was able to really enjoy the race.  But I always set high expectations for races and put pressure on myself to perform.  It makes for some nerves before I race, but it's how I approach running and I like it that way.  Here are some of our Top Ten Thoughts on Racing a 10K.
Jodi and I on the bus ride to the start

  1. Everybody needs somebody.  Running/racing with Jodi is so much fun.  The race wouldn’t have been the same without her by my side for all the pre-race chaos and the fun after-race party.  We know each other’s racing habits quite well by now.  Jodi comes with a change of clothes, layers and layers (and layers) of clothes to stay warm before the start, and enough water to keep me hydrated for a week!  Carissa makes copious trips to the port-a-potties, insists on lining up toward the front of the pack, and comes with her game face on.  She usually doesn't enjoy the race until after it's over.  I also know ahead of time that Carissa will always beat me.  It keeps me humble and helps me celebrate how smokin' fast she really is. 
  2. Everybody needs to Run with Paula.  Run with Paula events are organized, fully staffed with more than enough volunteers, and always really fun.  This was the third Run with Paula event I've participated in and each time I leave impressed.  It was nice to head into a race morning knowing we would have ample time to pick up packets, grab the shuttle bus to the start, check our gear, and still warm up.   Each of the transition points were impeccably organized with tons of volunteers on hand working efficiently and smoothly.  Paula told me after the race that she doesn't like standing in line and organizes her events from the vantage point of a runner.  On a personal note, Paula and Dave Harkin are really genuine, kind and funny people.  I've worked with them in the past to help athletes getting started in living a fit and healthy lifestyle and they totally got on board with what we were working on.  I love supporting their events and shopping at Portland Running Company because they have done so much for the running community in Portland. Keep up the good work Paula!
  3. Race Smart but Fast.  I (Carissa) am trying hard to be a smarter racer.  The best way to run a race is to keep an even pace or to run a negative split, meaning the second half of the race is faster and stronger than the first half.  My racing track record shows that I run too hard at the beginning of a race and struggle at the end.  I wanted to change that and run an even pace for this race.  The start of this race was downhill so it was tricky to figure out what pace to run the first mile without using up too much energy.  Another concern was that I wouldn't be able to maintain the pace I was aspiring to hit.  My (Jodi) only regret about this race is that I didn't bomb the downhill that was the entire first mile.  Carissa had filled my head on the shuttle bus about saving energy in the first two miles, so against my better judgement, that's what I did.  I should have known that I don't race like the average runner.  Downhill is my strength and where I make up a lot of time. I think if I would have bombed the first mile, I could have cut at least five seconds per mile off my overall pace.
  4. Never trust a race course described as "flat" in the Pacific Northwest.  I knew there was a downhill start but my impression was that the rest of the course was flat.  To be fair, it definitely was flattish.  However, at the end when I looked at my mile splits it was obvious that there were some rolling hills on the course that noticeably altered my pace per mile. Based on our splits miles three and five were tougher than the others.  I (Jodi) didn't have to look at my splits to know the course was hilly.  My "I-think-might-keel-over-and-die" panting was a huge indication that I was climbing hills and not cruising on the flats.  Keep in mind I come from the Midwest so the "flats" around here would be noticeable hills there.  Maybe I should start writing course descriptions...
  5. 6.2 miles is an awkward distance to run.  A 5K feels over in a flash, a half marathon isn’t painful until the last couple of miles, but a 10k feels like way too long to run as fast as possible.  My race felt hard almost the whole time, especially because I was pushing to reach a 6:37 pace.   I didn’t feel strong for this race.  I felt depleted.  I (Jodi) didn't mind the distance of the 10k but agree with Carissa that it's a strange distance if you're trying to race.  It feels like a long way to run as fast as you can.  When I started getting a sideache I chose to slow my pace instead of push through it.  I don't regret that decision even though I know it affected my overall time.  By slowing down a bit, I was able to enjoy this race and soak in how it showcased the beauty of Portland.
  6. Racing can be stressful.  The schedule I’m following has three races built into it.  Hal Higdon says “Most experienced runners enjoy racing," but I beg to differ.  I didn't enjoy this race until it was over.  I was nervous a few days before the race, the morning of the race, and worked my butt off during the race.  To add insult to injury, I peppered myself with "Why am I doing this again?" questions while I was racing.  I (Jodi) am, in theory, following the same schedule as Carissa.  But I don't like speed work so I modified it to fit my lifestyle.  I raced this event with Carissa because it was her birthday wish, not because the schedule dictated a 10k race.  I loved it - the course was beautiful, the event was well organized and fun, and I had enough energy after the race to go home and do an Insanity workout with my husband.  I sure can't say that about any half or full marathons I've raced.
  7. Training correctly brings speed.  When I started training for my fall half marathon I thought I would aim for a 7:15 minute per mile pace, but when I plugged my 5k race time into McMillian's Running Calculator, it suggested a half marathon pace of 7:00 minutes per mile.  I can’t tell you how intimidating that pace sounded to me.  McMillian also said I should be able to run a 6:37 pace for a 10K.  My Garmin read 6:35 and my official race pace was 6:39, so I'm right on schedule.  Training correctly is bringing me speed I didn't know I had.  I (Jodi) haven't been following the schedule to a T, primarily because I had two minor surgeries this summer and was still rehabbing an overuse injury.  With that said, I have been running and slogging out some of the proposed speed work.  It's taken me longer than Carissa, but I am finally getting my speed back.  My Jodi-sized goal for this race was a 7:20 pace.  My Carissa-sized goal was a 7:00 pace.  My official pace was a 7:08, so I'm right where I want to be heading into the last few weeks of half-marathon training.
  8. Girls in Portland run FAST!!!!  I don’t have experience racing outside of Portland, but I do know that many of the women who show up to these races are well-trained and FAST.  I would think that in a lot of other locations, my 6:39 pace would at least let me place in the top three in my division or maybe even win an event.  But I placed 6th in my division and 19th overall female.  Wow!  There are a lot of talented runners here, but great competition motivates me to run faster.   Carissa and I couldn't be more different when it comes to racing.  I wanted to run a small, local 10k that may or may not chip-time the event.  She insisted on going where the competition is.  When I started running five years ago, I was happy to log a ten minute mile.  To be able to race over six miles at a 7:08 pace was a definite win in my book.  And since I'm older than Carissa, I have the benefit of slower competition.  My much slower pace-per-mile earned me a 5th place finish in my age group and 29th female finisher overall.  I'll take it.
  9. Who drinks beer and eats pasta before 9 a.m.?  Jodi and I both thought the concept was odd (where are the bagels and the awful peanut butter that sticks to the roof of your mouth?).  We weren't in the mood for either, but chose to embrace the spirit of the event and indulged in all the post-race offerings.  While we ate, we debriefed on our races and celebrated the feeling of accomplishment.  Come dinner time, we texted about making pancakes, but alas - our families had actually eaten them for breakfast instead of pasta and beer.  Imagine that!  
  10. Racing takes it out of you.  I am slow to recover after racing.  I was surprised on Sunday how sore my 10K made me.  Monday morning I woke up early and did a spin class on muscles that were not 100%  The rest of the week I was one tired mama  - taking it easy with light workouts and ready for bed by 8:00 p.m.  I (Jodi) tend to recover more quickly from racing than Carissa.  I definitely needed a nap on Sunday afternoon, but was able to regroup quickly and stay on schedule with my workouts.

For those who love the details, here are the splits.

Mile One:  6:24
Mile One:  6:23
Mile Two:  6:38
Mile Two:  7:06
Mile Three:  6:44
Mile Three:  7:24
Mile Four:  6:31
Mile Four:  7:04
Mile Five:  6:49
Mile Five:  7:24
Mile Six:  6:31
Mile Six:  7:22
Final Point Two: 6:10
Final Point Two:  6:51
Overall Time and Pace: 41:19 – 6:39
Overall Time and Pace:  44:18 – 7:08

We want to hear from you Sole Sisters.  What do you think of the 10k distance?  Have you ran Pints to Pasta before?


  1. I LOVE the 10k distance. But it is very challenging, indeed! If you think about it, you are running at faster than tempo pace for longer than most people ever run a true tempo. That's what makes 10k a fantastic workout.

    I haven't ever ran pints to pasta, mostly because it's three hours away. But one of these years!

    You both did really REALLY well at your first 10k!! And took home a lot of good experience. Even splits are great goal for the 10k, but if you are going downhill....it can sometimes be money in the bank :)

    1. You are so talented Raina. I'm not at all surprised that a distance I find to be the most challenging is one that you love. What distance is your favorite?

    2. Ha! I am still trying to figure that one out. My easy answer is whatever distance makes me look the best on the calculator.:) maybe it's a tie between the 10k and the half ?
      You will be in Estacada? Have fun!! I did that one last year.

    3. I thought mine was the marathon but I look the worst on the calculator for that one. I won't be racing estacada.

  2. Thanks ladies for another great post. All three of you inspire me to push myself. I am running my first 10K this weekend. For me it is not as much about pace as it is just finishing by running the whole thing. I have only run 10K once and it was on a flat path. Most of my long runs have been 5 miles. I am super nervous but also excited.

    1. How exciting Carol. I hope you have a great race! Is it Estacada? I think Tanya will be at that one. There's something so rewarding about racing a distance that feels like it will be a challenge to complete. I think your 5 mile runs will be a great foundation. Let me know how it goes.

    2. Go Carol Go! We're excited to hear how your race goes. And I agree with Carissa - if you can do five miles on a training run, you most certainly can run the entire distance of a 10k. Race adrenaline is a beautiful thing. Have fun.

  3. Ahhh. I love a good 10 K race report! ;-) I used to HATE this distance but I learned to like it this spring and it's all because I learned to pace it better. I used to run it all out like a 5K and boy does that make for a painful second half! Funny how miles 3 & 5 seem to be a little harder for both of you. Elevation change? Regardless, great job on your first 10K!

    And yes, Portland girls do run fast. (At least that's what I've always heard!) Your times would have DEFINITELY won you awards around here! You'll just have to come to Arkansas sometime! lol!

    1. But if we come to Arkansas, we'll have to run in the humidity and we're not conditioned for that! I was when I lived in Chicago, but not so much now. We'll put it on our list of things to look forward to. As far as mile 3 and 5 go - both of them had some rolling hills with climbs. "Flat" for around here, but totally noticeable when you're racing. So tell us - what's your 10k strategy now if you don't run it all out?

    2. Maybe there's hope for me yet Tia. I was using McMillan as my guide for pacing but it felt hard regardless. I might have just been having an off day. I even felt light headed two seperate times during the race.

    3. It is a very simple strategy- I just pace myself! :-) I really used to run it like a 5K, oblivious to the fact that I needed to control my speed early on- especially in the first mile. In a 5K you can get away with a fast first mile since it's a shorter race but a 10K is not as forgiving. My big 10K goal this year was to break 40 minutes. My previous PR was 41:42. In February I ran a timed 10K on the track and paced myself according to McMillan's prediction time. I had a light running week and treated it as if it were an actual race. Conditions were good and I knew at the 5K mark when I crossed right around 20 minutes that if I stayed with it I could break 40. I finished just under 40 and that workout gave me the confidence I needed going into my real 10K in April. (It was also a REALLY good 10K course- flat and fast!) The weather was ideal and we didn't have any of the summer humidity yet. So many things play a part of a good race besides our own physical fitness- weather, course, competition, etc. and it's so rewarding when they all come together just right.