I wasn’t surprised. I knew the hills were coming but I still didn’t prepare for them. I did one 5 mile hill workout a month or so ago. I had a game plan though. Run all the down hills. Try and run all the up hills. If I couldn’t run up the hills, I tried to limit my walking. The race started out a bit warm (61 degrees) but the humidity was killer at 82%. I felt the humidity for sure! My goal for this race was to finish with a decent time. It was going to be a PR no matter what as I have never done an actual “10 mile” race before. This really wasn’t a race for me though, it was more of a long training run where I get water along the way and a medal and banana at the finish. I needed a 10 mile run this weekend for my Grandma’s Half training plan and I know that if I would have ran it myself, I probably would have quit at 8. I need this long run to prepare me for what is to be in two weeks. Yikes!
The 10 milers started 15 minutes before the Half Marathoners. We got to the race with about 10 minutes to spare. I usually visit the port-a-potties before but the line was incredibly long and I didn’t have time. So I started the race without my pre-race pee. Oh boy!
The number of 10 mile runners seemed very small (there were only 400 of us). I started in the back and there was really nobody behind me. I thought for sure this was going to be a last place finish for me. Ugh! We started down a short decline followed by a somewhat steep (but short) up hill. The hills started early and were often. We get the top and it was a nice long downhill to the end of mile 1. My time was right on pace with 12:07. Whew! That went well.
The start of mile two was on one of the many gravel portions of the race. It wasn’t long or horrible…a little wet/mud from the rain the night before. We also had a short out and back portion…lame. We were rewarded on the way back with the first water stop. It was much needed on this humid day. I was sweating buckets, more than usual! After the water stop we had more gravel, well it really was a small single track gravel path with long grass around it. This was tough as everybody was running single file on the small gravel path. Any passing that you would like to do was on the long grass. I just settled behind some slow girls thinking this wasn’t going to be that far. It turned out to be at least a quarter of a mile. That was a bit annoying! My mile 2 time slowed but considering the single track thing and the water stop, I’m still happy with the 12:34. My overall pace was still under 12:30 so I was happy…I was also thankfully to get back on the road!
The next mile was along a fairly busy road. This course wasn’t closed so all the roads remained open to traffic. Most of the traffic was people cheering on their runners. So we got some cowbell ringing to keep us motivated…I hate cowbells. (LOL!) After the mile or so on the busy road we headed down another gravel road. The nice thing about this stretch was it was mostly shaded with great views of the lake. The shade didn’t help with the humidity but it did block some of the sun. I was grateful. My mile 3 was a bit slower than I would have liked at 12:45 but it had a pretty long hill during this mile.
Mile 4 wasn’t very memorable. I think there was a water stop. Maybe not? I’m not sure. I spent the entire race “chasing” a group of girls. I would catch them at water stops but then they would get ahead of me again. They probably didn’t realize I was chasing them. It was also during this mile that the first half marathoner passed me. Yep, the first half marathoner ran so fast that he made up the 15 minute head start I got AND he ran 3 more miles than me. You see the half marathoners ran a separate 5K course before they joined my 10 mile course. So he passed during my mile 4, his mile 7. Crazy fast! My pace was right around the same as the previous mile at 12:44.
During mile 5 I was being passed continuously by the fast half runners. It was a bit discouraging to be constantly passed by very fast people. But I kept plugging along. A few of them would tell me “nice job” or “keep it up!” That was nice. I hope they really meant it. Even though I was overheating, I still managed to keep mile 5 under 13 minutes with 12:56. Nowhere along this course was an extended flat stretch. It was an up and down the whole way. Check out the elevation map at the bottom of this post. It is incredible.
Mile 6 is a blur (not that I ran fast but that I don’t remember much about it). My pace slowed down quite a bit. I really max out at 10K mark. I’m a 10K runner. Anything past that I fade fast. Mile 6 was my first mile over 13 at 13:16. But my overall pace was still under 12:45 which I felt was good considering the humidity and hills.
Half way through mile 7 was a gigantic hill. The thing that got me through this hill was the water stop I could see at the top. Even though I took my own water, I always love seeing those water stops. This water stop was at the intersection where we got back on a main road with traffic whipping past. For the next 1.5 miles I had to deal with cars whipping past and more half marathoners passing me. Argh! I switched my focus at this point to my overall pace. My goal was under 13 for the overall pace. Mile 7 slowed even more than mile 6 and I came in at 13:38. Darn it! My overall pace was still barely under 13 but I knew I wasn’t going to make that goal. When I realize that I won’t make a goal, I really start to shut down and stop caring. At that point the only thing I cared about was finishing. I need an attitude adjustment!
The one pick-me-up was when I was passed by a former co-worker, Laura, during my mile 8, her mile 11. She noticed me, and said Hi! She is the one that warned me about the hills and gravel. It was nice to see her, be it briefly as she finish her awesome race. (She ran the half marathon 25 minutes faster than my 10 miler…yep, I’m slow.) I was excited to see the mile 8 sign as we turned off the busy road and on to a somewhat flat stretch of city street. It wasn’t as busy with traffic but a lot of the half runners were grouped around me. I focused on my overall pace and tried my best to keep it under 13.
I almost managed through 9 miles but unfortunately my 14:04 mile 9 pushed me over the 13 minute overall goal. With what was coming during the last mile…I knew I wasn’t going to make up any of the time. At this point, I switch my goal to beating my 15K time from April. That race was disastrous with the unusually hot weather and my tweaked calf muscle. I saw a casualty of the half marathon. A girl was sitting on the bridge and her boyfriend/husband was calling 911. I’m thinking heat stroke? She looked very dazed. Later, when Eric passed her, she was in an ambulance. Eric said he hoped it wasn’t me in there. At least I know he cares. :P
About a quarter mile into the last mile was the major hill. The race organizers are so cruel. The biggest hill is 3/4 of a mile from the finish. It is over a 50 foot climb, around a bend, then it flattens out for a bit and then another 50 foot climb. It truly is cruel and unusual punishment! You get to the top of the last hill and you have run a “U” to the finish line. So you get to the top of this hill and you see the finish line but you have to run 3 more blocks around the park to get to it….again cruel! I walked up both hills. I wasn’t going kill myself at the end of the race and potentially hurt myself. My last mile was 15:37. My watch said the course was a bit long at 10.08 so my official time was 2:14.24. Not great but not horrible either. I was ok with it given the circumstances. I beat 18 people! I wasn’t dead last! Yippee!
I was so excited for water (I had ran out!) and the banana. I inhaled the banana and granola bar and walked back to the finish line to see Eric finish. He wasn’t as fast as Valleyfair but still he had a great time of 2:14.25…did you catch that? His time was 1 second slower than me. He ran 13.1 miles in the same time it took me to run 10. I’m so slow!
We walked down to Lola’s for our burger, beer ok who am I kidding? We had pop and chips. It was nice to get a meal out of the deal too. After the food, we slowly made our way back to the car. It wasn’t a great race. But it was my first official 10 mile race so I PR’d anyways! :)