Yesterday I ran the Hartwood 10 Miler for the second year in a row! I ran this race last year and loved it even though it rained the whole time. Last year I scored myself an almost-8 minute PR and had a great time. I was excited to run it again, but I wasn’t sure how well I would be able to do this time around. Last year I was in the middle of marathon training and doing a ton of speedwork. This year I am not training for a marathon or doing speedwork- except for short sprints at the track, but no tempo runs or anything like I usually would do for longer races like this one. I didn’t really know what to expect from myself, but I had a bunch of running buddies at the race so I was just excited to be there with them! Luckily it was a beautiful morning this year- crisp and cool and NOT raining! It was a little bit humid but overall, the conditions were awesome for mid-August. I couldn’t wait to get started!
My running buddies and I were busy chatting and didn’t even realize we were about to start until we heard the gun go off. We all ran together for maybe a tenth of a mile and then we broke off at our own paces. After a mile or so I checked in with my body to see how I was feeling. The pace I was holding (low 8:00/mile) felt pretty effortless and comfortable. I decided I had no reason NOT to try my best and run the best race I could.
- Mile 1 – 8:16
- Mile 2 – 7:48 (<– too excited!)
The race course is basically a big loop along country roads, through wooded areas and alongside farmland. It was beautiful, the sky looked amazing, and I just felt so happy and lucky to be running. There was one small out-and-back section early in the race where I was able to see my friends. Leslie was right behind me, then Chanda, then Cynthia & Laura who were running together – and are also pregnant and due just a few days apart in January!
- Mile 3 – 8:03
- Mile 4 – 8:06
Since I decided to race, I focused on trying to run evenly (after my too fast second mile) and keeping my energy levels up by eating a half pack of Honey Stingers every 25 minutes. I knew from last year that the second half of the race is harder and hillier than the first, so I needed to make sure I wouldn’t burn out. I passed the halfway point at a little over 40 minutes, which I knew was about an 8 minute pace. My 10 mile PR (that I set at this race last year) was run at a 8:07 pace. I started to wonder if a PR was possible.
- Mile 5 – 8:01
The big hills started around mile 6. I felt like I was either running up a hill or down a hill from miles 6-9, but I actually kind of liked it. I’ve always been strong at running hills and I like how the different elevation changes keep all of my leg muscles engaged. I focused on powering up them and then trying to relax going back down, over and over and over again! I was running either in front of, next to or behind another guy from Team RWB the entire race and I tried to stick with him- he was a great pacer! You can see him in the background of the photo above :). Miles 6-8 were a little slower due to the hills, but I knew based on my overall time that I was still on track to PR if I stayed strong the last two miles.
- Mile 6 – 8:07
- Mile 7 – 8:15
- Mile 8 – 8:19
I got a boost of energy during mile 9 when I saw Kevin and the baby drive by. They had come to meet me at the finish and I remembered from last year they passed the runners on their way to the park where the race ended. I was so excited to see them and that adrenaline carried me through the last 2 miles. When we turned to head back into the park toward the finish line, I told the guy from Team RWB that he had been a great pacer, but that I was within a minute of my PR and needed to push it to the end. He told me to go get it and so I did!
- Mile 9 – 8:10
- Mile 10 – 7:43 (<– my last mile was my fastest!)
I was so focused at the end that I didn’t even see Kevin on the side of the road taking pictures of me. All I saw was the clock ticking away and getting closer to the 1:21:00 mark. That last stretch seemed like it took forever, but I got my PR by 30 seconds!
- Finish Time – 1:20:43, 8:04 average pace
I was so excited, so proud and so shocked that I pulled a PR out from somewhere inside of me. Why do I always do the best in races that I don’t have any expectations for?
After collecting my cool glass and some water I went over to where Kevin was hanging out with Chanda’s husband James and the kids. We watched other runners finishing, and then my running buddies started coming through!
First was Leslie, who finished in 1:37! She is training for her first marathon and this was her first race ever in the United States. She just got back after living in Germany for 3 years!
Then came Chanda, who came in right at 1:39. I was so excited for her because she ran at her goal half marathon pace (9:55) on a course that is much tougher than the half marathon she has in October. She totally killed it!
And then these two amazing mamas came in right after Chanda, a couple seconds past 1:40. I was so impressed that they ran 10 miles at a 10:00 pace, almost halfway through their pregnancies. Plus they looked adorable in their Running for Two shirts! Does Laura’s look familiar? It’s actually mine 🙂
We all decided that we love this race and would definitely do it again. Smiles all around!
The Hartwood 10 Miler is a race I want to continue doing every year. Beautiful course, friendly runners and volunteers, small, local, and for a great cause. What more could you ask for?