I had been looking forward to September 28 for quite some time. Not only would it be my second ever running of the Virginia 10 Miler, it was my target race for my post-surgery training. I had spent the past two month building up my weekly running totals, as well as my running distances in order to be able to finish this tough and hilly course.
I found out a couple weeks before the race, that I would be without my favorite cheerleader. Anna was going to Baltimore with a friend to see the Orioles play the Red Sox. I was glad she was getting to have a girls’ weekend. As much time and energy she spends taking care of her three boys, she was well deserving of a weekend retreat. Her absence was going to throw some few logistical issues in the race weekend though.
With Anna leaving town Friday afternoon, I was going to have to keep the boys by myself for the first time over night. Since I had needed to leave the house before 7 a.m. on Saturday morning, I recruited some help. Grandma and Papa were eager to lend a helping hand. My Mom and Dad came up to the house Friday afternoon and watched the boys until I got home from work. After eating dinner and taking part in our normal weekend “Movie Night”, I laid down with the boys.
The morning came around very quickly and it was a good thing I had my parents over. I sleep very soundly and Anna is usually my alarm clock. Since I had to rely on an actual electronic device, I decided to set my phone as well as the normal bedside clock. My phone’s alarm when off around 5:50 a.m. and it woke my parents up a few doors down the hallway before I ever heard it. I am sure I would have heard the second alarm because it was set much louder (at least I hope I would have). My Dad woke me up after my phone had been going off for a few minutes.
The original plan was that I would leave early and my parents would bring the boys to Lynchburg a couple hours later. I gave them the option of just staying at home and playing with Grandma and Papa, but Eli really wanted to come to the race. I know how difficult it is to get the boys up, fed, and out the door. I felt bad about putting that burden on my parents. So we ended up waking the boys up just after 6 a.m. and in the car. We had to drive separate cars because we could fit in one. So they were going to McDonald’s to eat breakfast and I was off to the starting line.
I thought I had left with plenty of time to spare, but I didn’t account for some traffic in Lynchburg. Traffic stopped dead on Lakeside Drive, well before Lynchburg College. I had planned to park at the Plaza, so I had about another mile to go. By the time I got to the Plaza and found a parking place, I had about 15 minutes before the start of the race. I decided that I would warm up by running from the car to the porta-john farm near E.C. Glass. I always like emptying the tank before I run. I found myself about 30 people deep in a line for a stinky portable toilet. After waiting in line for about 10 minutes, I was half way to the front of the line when they started making the countdown to start the race. I had to make the executive decision to postpone my prerace ritual.
I knew there were going to be a lot of porta-johns along the race path and I really didn’t need to go that bad. So, I was able to make it to the starting area just as the gun went off. Since there were several thousand runners and walkers at the event, it took me around 3 minutes to make it to the actual starting line. With no time to wait around for the race and get nervous, I was off. My prerace plan was to take the first few miles very easy. I was going to run at a very comfortable pace and not pay any attention to my watch. Having the weave around slower runners for the first couple miles, I really didn’t have a lot of time to look at my watch anyway. I made myself take the time to look around at the scenery. It is not every day that you get to run straight down Linkhorne with no traffic.
With all the adrenaline flowing early in the race and with the first two miles being downhill, it is very easy to start this race too fast. I made myself look around at the scenery and take the in the sights, as an attempt to slow myself down some too. It is not every day that you get to run straight down Linkhorne without the threat of being hit by a car. It was during this portion of the race that I saw several friends and a cousin too (great job Jennifer!).
After the two mile downhill portion of the race, we had made it to the rolling hill section of the course. This is the 1.5 mile section that goes “up” and “down” on its way from the Farm Basket to Rivermont Avenue. I think this is one of the more difficult sections of the race. The constant changing of elevation can really do a number on your legs. I have been doing a lot of training on hilly Lynchburg streets in 2013 and I really think it has paid off. This section ended up not being as bad as I had remembered from last year. By the time I made it to top of the last hill approaching Rivermont, I could feel my legs tightening, but I still had a lot of energy.
The 1.5 miles up to the turnaround in Riverside Park was not too bad. There is a slight uphill climb, but the elevation gain is very gradual and not too noticeable. It was also during this section of the course that I started seeing all the leaders heading back to the start line. It is amazing seeing how fast those men and women are. They are definitely blessed with running great running ability.
It was also this section of the race were you really start to realize how many race “cheerleaders” there are at the 10 Miler. There were tons of volunteers stretching the entire race path and each one did a great job of cheering the runners on as they passed. I believe a lot of them were college students and I greatly appreciated them getting up early on a Saturday morning to give us some extra boost. I am sad to say that I don’t think the college aged Ryan would have been getting up at 7am to cheer a bunch of running strangers.
Once I had made it to the Riverside Park turnaround, I felt great. My pace had steadily improved over the first half of the race and it was then that I realized that I could still finish with a pretty decent time. I couldn’t remember my exact finishing time from 2012, but I thought it was somewhere in the 1:26 range. Doing some quick math in my head, if I pushed it harder in the second half of the race I could possibly beat that time.
After 50 minutes into the race with about 4 miles to go, I grabbed my Gu gel packet out of my pocket and began to slowly consume some extra calories. I have found in the past that any runs under 50 minutes; I don’t usually need any other than water. But anything over 50 minutes, my body reacted better to getting a shot of gel. It was about this time in the race that I started contemplating about using a porta-john. I decided to wait as long as possible and hopefully wait until after I ate my gel packet (they upset my stomach sometimes). I decided that I would just keeping running until I really, really, really needed to go.
During the return section of the rolling hills, I was still feeling pretty strong. But in the back of my mind, I was still second guessing my current pace. I was definitely running faster than I had the entire race and I knew the last 2 miles were going to be that awful hill climb back to E.C. Glass. Those thought consumed my mind during this section of the race. By the time I got to the base of the hill, just by the Farm Basket store, my legs still felt pretty strong. I tried to attack the hill with everything I had left. After about ¾ of a mile, the hill starts to decline in slope some. But by that time, my legs were pretty tired. I found a comfortable pace and tried to think happy thoughts for the last mile.
As I got close to the finish line, I could see my time was close to 1:29. So subtracting 3 minutes for my chip time, I knew I was going to be close to last year’s time. I crossed the line at 1:26:18. As soon as I crossed the finish line, I spotted my Mom and Dad with Eli and Coy. It was great to see them. I felt great for just finishing the race and I immediately knew I could have done better. But that was not my goal for today. This was a race that I had picked out two months before, when I had to start running all over again. My thoughts drifted back to those early days of July. I was struggling to simply walk laps around the backyard without getting dizzy. My body had done its job healing my wounds and I put in the time training for this race.
This feeling of satisfaction is the reason I love to run in races. I love setting a goal and working towards that goal. It is really good for my self-esteem to be able to accomplish goals. My parents, the boys, and I hung around the post-race area for a while after the race. We got some food to eat and relaxed for a little while. I was able to catch up with a few friends afterwards too. I was nice seeing Jennifer, Catherine, Missy, Samantha, Coach Cutler, Kevin, Travis, Holly, Shannon, and Mary Carter. I hope I didn’t forget anyone.
After a quick visit to Bedford’s Centerfest and eating a yummy jiro, I was able to go home and look up my previous year’s time. I found that I had actually run 13 second slower than last year. I was pretty happy to finish so close without really trying this year. I felt much stronger during and after the race this year. I know, God willing, I will really be able to push for a PR next year. I was really pleased when I looked at my splits from this year’s race. My slowest 3 miles were miles 1, 2, and 3. My fastest 2 miles were miles 8 and 9. I had finally stuck to a race strategy and it had actually paid off.
My 2012 Splits
(ignore my final time, I forgot to stop my watch)
My 2013 Splits
Since I felt so good running this difficult 10 mile course, I think I am going to try and get a half marathon in before the end of the year. I can just keep on training until then, so that I don’t lose my current level of endurance. Other than that, I am just planning to run in a few 5k races to close out an interesting 2013. I am sorry it took so long to post my race recap, but sometimes I get too busy living life (and watching Breaking Bad on Netflix!).