This morning I ran a small, local 10 mile race called the Hartwood 10 Miler. I decided I wanted to do it in place of my long run this weekend, really race it and push myself. All summer it has been hard to tell if I am making progress with my training since it’s been so hot and humid. I knew this race would be a great opportunity to see what I could do because it was cool and rainy- perfect running conditions in my opinion. I am ecstatic to report that I PRed by almost 8 MINUTES and had an amazing, perfect race. Read on for details!
I woke up to my alarm at 5 a.m. feeling rested and ready to run. My in-laws were visiting and my mother-in-law took over baby duty for the night since he has been waking up a LOT lately, and it was very much needed since we had slept a total of 10 hours the previous 2 nights (ugh!). I woke up to the sound of rain outside my window. I wasn’t very worried because I’d rather run in the rain over heat and humidity any day. I pumped, got myself dressed, drank coffee, ate a Luna Bar, and headed out the door at 6:15. Kevin was coming to meet me later once the baby had woken up and had breakfast. I didn’t want to wake my whole family just to have them come stand in the rain for a while.
I drove about 20 minutes to the start of the race, which was at Curtis Memorial Park in Hartwood, Virginia. On my way in I passed mile markers 7-10, and I could see that the course was going to be beautiful and consist of a lot of rolling hills. Once at the park I met my friend Amanda (the one I am training for the OBX Marathon with) and we chatted, used the bathroom and got our timing chips. It was raining lightly and I was kind of chilly in my shorts and tank top, but I knew I would be feeling good once I started moving. Pretty soon after that it was time to start, so we lined up with about 200 other people and were off at exactly 7:15 a.m.
I have only done two other 10 mile races, Broad Street and the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler. Both of those are HUGE and very crowded races. One of the reasons I was excited for this one was because it was small. While large races can be really fun and exciting, I love the feel of small, local races and this one definitely reconfirmed that for me. It was great- it started right on time, it was an awesome course, not crowded at all, and I was surrounded by super friendly and encouraging people (runners and volunteers). I loved it.
My goal was obviously to PR, which I knew wouldn’t be too hard unless something bad happened. My 10 mile PR was 1:28:57, so I just had to run faster than an 8:54 pace. I was shooting for between 10K and half marathon pace, which would be between 8:00 and 8:20 per mile. The weather conditions were perfect for this, and it felt pretty effortless to run at that pace. I made sure to start a little slow and work my way up to faster, thanks to all the progression runs I’ve been doing for teaching me patience!
- Mile 1 – 8:27
- Mile 2 – 8:13
- Mile 3 – 8:13
- Mile 4 – 8:06
- Mile 5 – 7:57
- Mile 6 – 8:01
The course was definitely rolling, but I actually liked it that way. I’ve always been good with hills because of where I live, and they were gentle enough that they didn’t kill my legs. The downhills felt great too, and the hills kept the big looped course really interesting. I couldn’t believe how effortless it felt to run at a low 8, high 7 minute mile pace. There were times I looked down at my Garmin and saw low 7s, which is way faster than even my 5K pace. I realized how much all my hard work this summer has paid off. I was finally seeing the results I had been looking for!
When I signed up for the race the course description read that miles 6-9 were very hilly. This is the section that I had driven in on so I knew they would be, and it definitely was a challenge running those bigger hills on tired legs. They just kept coming and coming, and I tried my best to power up them, coast down the other side letting gravity help me, and make up time by pushing on the flat sections. A man came up behind me and told me I had been a great pacer for him so far in the race and that he could barely keep up with me. That was a nice little confidence boost :). Then he passed me, haha!
- Mile 7 – 8:14
- Mile 8 – 8:15
- Mile 9 – 8:04
During the hilly section in mile 9 I got another little confidence boost when I passed another man and he said, “Way to come back from those hills- great job!” The runners were all SO NICE. They were all saying things like, “Nice pace!”, “Keep it up” and “Looking strong” as they passed by one another. It was so awesome- I’m not sure I’ve ever done a race where everyone was so encouraging. It was definitely a community feel rather than competitive.
At mile 9 I got the best surprise when I heard cheers coming from a car driving next to me (one lane of the road was open to traffic). It was Kevin, my mother-in-law, and the baby! They were coming to meet me at the finish and happened to see me along the route. Kevin pulled over and jumped out to take some pictures, then continued to drive along side of me for a few minutes when I entered the park.
I’ve been working hard at finishing my runs strong, and this race was no exception. I gunned it to the finish, making my last mile the fastest of them all.
- Mile 10 – 7:43
- Finish Time – 1:21:13 / 8:07 average pace
I was ecstatic when I was done. I had just PRed by almost 8 minutes, and I felt AMAZING the entire time. Plus my family was there to see it all. I was super proud of myself and so happy.
I am so lucky to have a family that supports my running so much. I could never get out the door to run as much as I do without Kevin’s help and encouragement. He is the best husband I could have ever asked for!
After about 20 minutes Amanda came through the finish line, right on target with her goal of 1:40. This was huge for her, because she had done a 15K (9.3 miles) previously, and she had finished the 10 miler faster than her 15K time even though it was a longer distance. This was also her first 10 miler. She is awesome!
All of the finishers received this glass, which I thought was really nice. Who doesn’t need more drinking glasses? We always do!
This race was just what I needed to boost my confidence for the remainder of my marathon training. It showed me that all of my hard work this summer is paying off, and that I am faster than I give myself credit for. Now my head is swirling with possibilities. I plugged my new PR into the McMillan Running Calculator and it estimated that I could run a 3:47:59 marathon based off my time today. Could I really do that? My first thought was no way, but I just honestly don’t know. I guess time will tell!
Off to enjoy some post-PR endorphins 🙂