This was supposed to be the year that I set a new PR for the Virginia 10 Miler. This would be the third time that I ran this race and since last year was the “appendicitis” year, this year’s race would be my first attempt to beat my original time. But life tends to get in the way of my training these days. I spent too many of those Saturday mornings drinking coffee and watching cartoons with the boys, instead of getting long runs logged (I really don’t regret spending my Saturday mornings with the boys).
I only logged two runs greater than 6 miles in the month leading up to the 10 miler. So I wasn’t too prepared to beat the 1:26:12 time I had run in my first 10 miler in 2012. So this year’s goal was to run comfortably and finish the race in the least amount of pain. To accomplish this goal I had a three step plan.
First, I would run the first mile as slow as possible. One thing I have learned from running races that 10 miles or greater is that starting too fast can come back to bite you, later in the race. Starting too fast is very easy to do on race day, when the excitement, adrenaline, and fresh legs can override your brain. The 10 miler course can also add to this struggle. The first 1 ½ miles of the course is downhill. Combining this downhill section with the early race energy, can create a scenario that you can pay for later in the race.
The second step of my plan was to make it to the halfway point by running a pace that was one tick above a comfortable pace. Once I got the first slower mile in, I had planned to pick up my pace just slightly. I would continue that pace until I got to the 5 mile turnaround in Riverside Park. At that point, depending on my physical state, I would decide the final step of my race plan.
If I made it to the 5 mile turnaround and my body felt good, then I would push myself harder during the second half of the race. On the other hand if I made it to this point in the race and felt horrible, then I would limp back to the finish line at any rate necessary to complete the race.
Getting our two boys up and out the door is always a challenge. So that task is always the first goal of race day. Thanks to my wonderful wife for helping them, while I eat and triple check my gear and packed bag. We did very well this year and I got to the race with enough time to drop by bag off at my company’s tent and use the porta-john. I threw a Gu gel in my pockets and I was off to the starting line. Just like previous years, I couldn’t actually get onto the road until after the race started and the crowd at the starting line thinned out some. Once I was able to get on the course and through the starting line, the race was on!
The start of the 10 miler is very crowded, so it helps me slow down and not start with such a fast pace. I took the time to look around and enjoy the people cheering on the sidewalks and the overall excitement that all the runners were showing during this period of the race. It wasn’t long before I spotted someone I knew, Charlie Coleman. I was able to run the first mile or so with Charlie. This allowed me to ignore my pace and run comfortably for the first segment of the race.
By the time I got to the Farm Basket at the bottom of the first long decline, I was feeling pretty good. I knew the next few miles were going to be rolling hills. This challenging section of the race would lead us up to Rivermont Avenue and can really tire the legs. I just tried to keep a steady pace through this section and not over work my legs too much. I still had my plan of making it to the halfway point as comfortable as possible.
Before I knew it, we were making the turn onto Rivermont and running by the Randolph campus. The course is pretty flat during this section of the race. I knew I had about a mile until the turn around in Riverside Park. After being a little jealous of all the 4 milers who were splitting off for their finish at Randolph, I concentrated on keeping a steady pace until the turnaround.
At the five mile mark, I took a look at my time and saw that I covered the first half of the race in 44 minutes. After doing some quick math in my head, I realized that I could finish with a time very close to my previous two 10 miler races. I had finished both the previous 10 miler races with a time of 1:26, just seconds different. As planned, I was going to pick up the pace on the second half.
I decided to take my Gu gel at this point in the race, so that I may help give me some energy for the last mile up Langhorne. As I made my way back down Rivermont and back on the rolling hills of Langhorne Road, I tried to pick up my pace and run a little out of my comfort zone. As I made it back to the Farm Basket, I was hoping that I had left enough in the tank to make it up the last hill. This was the worst part of the race course. The last hill up Langhorne that stretched over a mile was very challenging on tired legs. I attacked the hill with everything I had left. By the time the finish line was in sight, my legs were dead. It took everything I had to make it to the finish line.
I crossed the finish line with a time of 1:26:58. It was the third straight year that I had finished with a 1:26 time! I was about 48 seconds slower than last year, but without setting out to set a PR for this race, I can awful close. Without putting in the training that I really should have, I was able to run a time that was very consistent with my previous attempts. That gave me a really good feeling about the next time I run the 10 miler!
I quickly found Anna and the boys, as well as some other friends and family at the finish line. As always, it was great to see my family at end of a race. We enjoyed some food and festivities before heading back to Bedford for some Centerfest fun (followed by a nap with the boys)!