You know, when I signed up to run a 10k this past weekend, I assumed I’d be running in a t-shirt and shorts, relatively comfortable. I giggled at the cute name of the race, Middle Earth’s Run From Winter 10k, and snidely said to myself “Spring arrives three days before the race, so I don’t know how much of a run from the previous season it’ll be.” Well mother nature, you shut me up. This past week has been cold (I remember boasting about it being in the upper 70’s this time last year) and race day was no exception. After waking up and checking the forecast, I ditched my hopes of finally getting to wear arm warmers, and threw on a long sleeve shirt (Oiselle lux layer). I still insisted on wearing shorts, and while a wise decision overall, those first few moments of bare-leg had my skin screaming.
This particular race actually takes place in a park right by my office, where I do a decent amount of post-work runs in the Spring and Fall (it’s a little too muggy in the summer since it’s near water). I was excited for two reasons: first, I know the course like the back of my hand, and second, it’s flat. I’ve been a bit wary of the 10k distance ever since my first one, because it was basically run down hill, run up a steeper hill, run down hill, run up an even steeper hill. I figured based on those two factors alone a PR was looking pretty likely. I actually raced last weekend, but because my alarm didn’t go off and I barely made it to the start, I didn’t have a bib and therefore no official time (which is why I didn’t do a race recap). According to my results from that, I knew a 46:xx would be doable, assuming there were no surprises.
Race morning started like the all do, me questioning myself, devouring a Picky Bar, and trying to drink the right amount of water to keep me hydrated, but not make me have to pee mid-race. After I arrived at the park, I picked up my bib and set out for an easy mile. Thankfully it warmed me up enough for the start, and before I knew it we were lined up and ready to go. I can honestly say that lining up for a race is one of my least favorite things. I can’t tell you how many people I overhear at almost every single race talking about how they’re “going to get run over” and “should probably move to the back” … but they never actually move. I usually take it upon myself to move in front of them if I can, but it’s so frustrating – why would you want to do that to yourself or other runners?! But I digress…
The first two miles of the race aren’t anything to write home about. I stayed controlled, didn’t waste energy weaving, and averaged about 7:30’s. I couldn’t help but notice some of the other runner’s labored breathing, and gave myself an imaginary pat on the back for not taking it out too fast (which is almost always the case for me). After the first two miles, everyone seemed to really spread out. Because the course is through a park on paths basically in the woods, it was quiet. There weren’t many spectators, and the race volunteers didn’t make a peep. I actually felt badly for the volunteers at the water stations; I really didn’t see many people taking any water, and they must have been cold! At mile 2.5 we started to see the first finishers on their way back from the turn-around point. I started counting each woman I saw, and figured I was just within the top 10. My original plan was to run the race in 2 mile increments, but decided instead to run it more of a 3, 2, 1.2 mile split.
I wound up slowing down a little during the 5th mile in order to save some energy for a final kick. Between miles three and five I passed about three women, and spent the final mile and a half pretty much alone. Once I hit mile five I started to pick up the pace, and by mile six, I heard an older man coming up behind me. Once the finish line was in sight, I realized he was using me as his final kick motivation, and I could tell he was doing everything in his power to pass me. Being the quiet competitive person I am, I pushed it to puke-pace, and made sure didn’t get in ahead of me. I wound up finishing in 46:22 (7:28 average): a solid 2 minute PR! As it turns out, that put me at 1st in my age group, and the 8th woman overall. Waiting around for the awards in the wind was brutal, but worth it because I got a medal!
Races like this make me really confident in my running; it’s nice to see your hard work paying off. Not every run is wonderful, sometimes things hurt, and I’m often tired, but I love this sport. I’m so happy that after years of always wanting to run, I’ve finally started doing it and am actually enjoying it. Sure I’ll never make it to the Olympics or place outside of small hometown races, but that post-run feeling is addicting! I’m starting to really look forward to my half next month – I’m hoping to PR, and I think things are really lining up for me to do so.