Here is Matt's race report:
The Rock and Roll New Orleans 10k has been my best race of that distance yet. It was a weekend full of running mistakes, fun, and excitement in my fastest 10k yet. This report is kind of embarrassing because as excited as I am for the victory, I didn’t bring the best of myself in this race.
Going into the race I wanted to run 34 minutes for this race. However, sickness made prospects for a perfect race uncertain. Following a quick recovery (thank you lots of zinc) I did double runs for 3 days in an attempt to hit my weekly mileage. Suffice to say my legs felt beat after those days, and to add insult to injury I was lacking sleep. Even when I dropped to sea level and ran a pre-race 7 miler I felt tired and didn’t find that extra pop I usually feel. Fortunately, I got 7 hours of sleep the night before the race, a luxury I don’t always have.
The morning of the race was perfect for a PR. The weather was 51F with a 4mph breeze. My pre-race routine went as planned despite the previous night’s dinner not sitting too well. I feel like a novice for eating something new pre-race, but I have no regrets as I wouldn’t have another opportunity to try Cajun in New Orleans.
The horn went off 5 minutes late and almost immediately I slipped in behind two other runners, Marcos and Pete. I’m not one who relishes in leading a race and characteristically I was timid in this race too. However, after about ¾ of a mile and my watch reading 5:40 pace I decided it was too slow for what I wanted and moved forward. Tina, who I later found was working towards Worlds, went with me we had a few exchanges up until mile 3. At that point I threw down my fastest mile, a 5m27s and broke away. Personally, I wanted to clock 5.20s but the fatigue accumulated from the past week started took its toll. At mile 4 I thought “ok time to go.” Usually I can dig deep at this point but something in me just said “no.” I just don’t have the same mental drive so I settled with “don’t let anyone pass.” At the same time I experienced a side stitch that plagued me for the rest of the race. The finishing stretch through City Park was exhilarating. With only a quarter mile to go I dashed for the tape and finished in 34m18s. I’ve never had the honor of breaking the tape before and just doing that made one terrible race a victory I can be proud of.
What are my takeaways from this race? The race was a good test of my current fitness and I would say I have a good chance at breaking 2:40 in Boston so long as it isn’t a 20mph headwind. It was also a good reminder of how important rest is as many of my mid-race photos were reminiscent of how unfocused I looked in my last Philadelphia Marathon. In the future it would be good to experience smaller races and running at the front. My best 10k has yet to come. This wasn’t the hardest I’ve pushed myself in a 10k. That honor goes to Duke City 10k where my legs burned and I felt like vomiting. Finally, victory was sweeter knowing I am running under the Dukes banner and not just myself.