I think 10 miles is my favorite distance to race. It's long enough to work you over, but short enough that it doesn't leave you completely wrecked at the end.
I was looking for an early season race to help test and gauge my fitness. I picked this race because it fit into my schedule nicely (or so I thought). I had hoped to run outside more this winter, but mother nature had other plans. I had a few runs over the last month outside, but not the consistency I was hoping for. And the weather between NY and NC were vastly different. We only got 'warm' weather this last week, while NC is quite warm, almost hot.
I thought I had a good handle on the course layout/elevation. I thought it was fairly flat until mile 8.5 when the monster hill comes into play. This hill is ~1 mile long and ~200 feet of vertical elevation over that mile. I knew it would be brutal so my plan was to run a solid, hard effort for the first ~8 miles, then whatever happens over the last two is what it is. I knew this race wouldn't be a PR race, but I wanted to really give the first 8 miles a run for it.
I lined up at the start and waited for the horn to go off. Hats off to UNC for a great start. We were waiting in front of the Bell Tower and it chimed as the race began. I knew the first mile would be congested so I tried to take it easy. It was hard to move around and pass people. Clearly many runners didn't pay attention to the pace signs before the start. I spent a good deal of energy looking for holes to run though and then making a move to pass people. I also noticed that the course was rolling right from the start! There weren't many flat sections along the way.
I tried to keep my pace in check and not burn out too quickly. But with all the rollers, I could feel the effort taking it's toll. The heat/humidity didn't help either. I noticed it took me a little longer to recover after each time I crested an incline. When I reached mile 5, I felt like I had been running much longer than I was. But my mind always changes when I hit the half way, it's all 'downhill' from there. Except not in this case!!
Mile 6 we are rewarded with a nice long downhill. I took advantage of it knowing what was lurking ahead. My splits were pretty steady and I wasn't falling off.......yet. My legs were getting tired and my arms were fatiguing and I still haven't made it to the big climb yet.
At mile 8, I heard a few volunteers
When I finally crossed the finish line, I was thrilled to be done. The only way to describe how I felt would be to take a baseball bat and beat each leg about 57 times...... each. Wow, that was one serious race course. While my overall time was not near my best times, I had a great 8 mile run like I was hoping for with a 2 mile slug-fest at the end.
I wasn't worried about the overall time as this was not truly a race for me. The purpose was to get a hard workout in. Had I been home, I might not have run this hard. It's nice to pick a race and just go in with the mentality of 'let 'er rip' and see what comes out the other end.
What came out today was a great effort for me to build on. During the race I kept thinking "my fitness stinks......I'm no where near where I was hoping to be.......my winter was a waste........" But stepping back to look at my splits for the first 8 miles and how difficult I found it to run in the heat/humidity and with the rollers, my thinking during the race was wrong.
But now it's back to NY to continue my prep for the rest of my season.........