Last Sunday I ran one of my favorite local races for the 3rd year in a row: the Hartwood 10 Miler. This is a small race run around the scenic back roads near where I live. Although I ran the Heritage 5 Miler last month, this was my first longer distance race since having Kyler. I was so excited and a little nervous too. I have had great races here the last two years, surprising myself by setting a new 10 mile PR each time. Last year I finished with an 8:04 average pace right before we got pregnant. I knew that wouldn’t happen this time since I’m still getting back into running after baby, but I was just thankful to be able to run at all. I wasn’t sure if I would be ready to run this distance only 3 months post partum, but after having a great 8 mile run I decided to go for it.
There’s just something I love about the morning before a race! Getting up early, having coffee and breakfast in a quiet house, getting dressed in clothes that make you feel strong, giving yourself mental pep talks. It’s pretty awesome. I have missed this feeling the last few months! Like the 5 miler in July, my plan for this race was to run without a watch and focus on my effort instead. I did want to give it a good shot rather than just run leisurely, so I decided to try for a comfortably hard pace and see what happened.
My neighborhood running buddy Laura picked me up around 6:15 and we drove down to the race together. One reason why I really enjoy this race is because it’s back along country roads, surrounded by farms and trees and beauty. Very different from where I run every day closer to the highway. I also love it because it’s SMALL! We easily parked, went to the bathroom, and found our friends in the Moms Run This Town running group with time to spare before the start.
It was a truly beautiful morning and the weather felt really nice. Temperatures were in the mid 60s and the humidity was not as bad as it usually is here in August, but you could tell there was still some lingering around. I even felt a little chilly at times in my tank top and shorts, but I knew that would change as soon as I got started and the sun came out.
Right on time at 7:15 the gun went off and we began our race! My friends and I split off from each other pretty quickly since we all had different goals for this race. The first mile is always exciting and I knew I was running a bit too fast even though I didn’t have a watch to look at. Another MRTT mom came up to run next to me and we talked for a few minutes. Her watch beeped for mile 1 and she told me we had done an 8:24 pace. Eek! Too fast for sure. I knew I wouldn’t be able to maintain that for 9 more miles. I said goodbye and watched her go ahead as I slowed myself down a little bit.
Unfortunately right after the first mile split I got a text from one of my friends who was running telling me she was sick and needed to stop. Before the race she was shivering a lot and saying how cold she was, and while I was a bit chilly it definitely wasn’t that extreme. Once she started running other flu-like symptoms hit her and she turned around to get help. I was proud of her for listening to her body and not pushing it too far, but I couldn’t stop thinking about her and if she was okay for the rest of the race.
I tried to settle in and get into my groove but I had a few stomach cramps in the early miles. They weren’t debilitating but definitely noticeable, so I tried to focus on the gorgeous course and what a beautiful day it was and eventually they subsided.
It started to warm up pretty quickly like I knew it would, and the sun came out from behind the clouds. The miles seemed to be passing really quickly and I didn’t miss wearing my watch at all. I did catch myself automatically glancing down at my wrist every once in a while though out of habit. It’s hard to break!
I texted my husband at the halfway point to let him know where I was since he was coming to meet me at the finish, and I noticed the time was exactly 8:00. This meant I ran the first 5 miles in 45 minutes, which is a 9 minute/mile pace. I know I said I didn’t care about my time, but I couldn’t help doing the math! I was feeling okay since my stomach cramps had passed, but I knew from experience that the second half of the race was harder than the first half because of lots of rolling hills. I knew I’d most likely not be able to maintain that pace, but I was fine with that. The photo below is the last one I took during the race because once the hills started, I didn’t have any extra energy to expend!
The last few miles of the race were tough. I got a pain in my shoulder around mile 7 that took a while to go away. I don’t know if anyone else gets these while running but I do every once in a while. I’m not sure if it’s the way I swing my arm or the water bottle I’m holding, but it hurts. I had to try to stretch it out while running but it didn’t work. Eventually I just tried to ignore it and it went away, plus I got to see my husband drive by with the kids on his way to the finish line. Their cheering gave me a little boost 🙂
Around mile 9 I pretty much lost focus completely when I texted my husband again to ask how my friend was doing. He was going to meet up with her at the finish area and give her some coconut water that he had brought, since she had ridden down with a friend and didn’t have her car. He told me she had to go to the hospital in an ambulance to get checked out because she wasn’t getting better. Hearing that news combined with the hills and rising temperatures caused me to take a walking break… and then another one… and another one. All in the last mile. I was a little disappointed in myself for giving in to walk when I hadn’t yet for 9 miles, but my body was feeling the need to and I accepted it.
We finally made the final turn into the park and I was thankful to see both flat ground, the beautiful finish line, my family and friends, and a better time than I expected on the clock!
- Finish Time – 1:32:35 / 9:15 pace
And then Kevin followed me across the finish line! He wins the award for cutest little runner!
Once I finished my friends and I grabbed some food and drinks and recapped our races. Everyone agreed that the hills seemed harder this year for some reason! Then later after we got home I heard back from my friend who had to go to the hospital. She was starting to feel better and going home. Whew! I was so happy to hear she was okay.
I was so beat after this race! I took a 2 hour nap with this cutie and was pretty sore in the following days. But I’m super proud of myself for accomplishing my longest race post baby #2.
All in all, a pretty good ‘comeback’ race after baby. It definitely gives me a good starting point moving forward as I get ready for my two half marathons this fall. I have a lot of room for improvement and I’m excited to see what I can do!
And to end this post on a funny note, here are some of my race photos that are less than flattering, to say the least! Ugh! Apparently I run cross-eyed and make some very interesting facial expressions 🙂
Previous Hartwood 10 Miler recaps: