I started stretching around 8:30am and took a warm-up run for about 10 minutes. I decided to hit the port-a-johns one last time before the race and ended up standing in line for 15 minutes. After a quick pre-race meeting, we were off to the starting line just after 9am. The two races were started 10 minutes apart. The 10k racers would leave first and followed by the 5k runners shortly after. Since I wasn't trying to set any world records, I decided to fall into the middle of the 10k pack. Once the race was started, the first 0.5 mile was through pretty open grass fields and gravel roads. This gave everyone plenty of time to sort out their positions based on their pace.
This was my first race wearing my New Balance MT10 minimalist shoes. If I would have known how many rocks and gravels would have been on the course's route, I may have decided against wearing the New Balance. The first mile went by really fast and my split was around 7:30. That was way too fast of a pace for me to stick with for this course. The next few miles went by without much excitement. I got into a good breathing rhythm and just let myself concentrate on foot placement.
There were several nice hill climbs that really did a number on my legs. By the halfway point the course split for the 5k and 10k courses. It is sort of wrong for the 10k'ers to see the finish line knowing they still had over 3 more miles to go. Once the course went back into the woods, I got back into a good flow. By this time, the soles of my feet had taken a good pounding from the gravels and were starting to get a little sore. So I really started paying attention to every rock on the course.
I kept my pace pretty steady until I came to the last of the big hills on the course. I felt myself start to fade as soon as the incline started. I was just about to give up on running the hill when an awesome lady, who appeared to be in her 40's (not that her age matters at all), pulled up beside me and said, "we can do this"! We kept our slow trot up the hill, side by side, until she finally pulled away from me with 10 yards to go. She really help me get over the "feeling sorry for yourself" feeling that was beginning to set in at that stage of the run. I tried to find her after the race and thank her. But since I was really not in my right mind when I encountered her during the race, I wasn't 100% what she looked like a after the race was over.
After finishing that last hill, there was only a short distance to the finish line and my official time was 53:35, with my first 5k at 26:01 and my second 5k at 27:35. This was my personal best time for a 10k race, beating my previous best from January by 59 seconds. So setting my personal best time on a course that was much more difficult that the site of my previous record was very rewarding. I feel like I probably could have done a little better if I picked a better starting spot and didn't choose to be content and run behind several slower runners at the beginning of the race. This just gives me more incentive to do better in my next 10k.
Thanks to the Mountain Junkies for putting on another great race. They by far have the best post-race food and drinks. I enjoyed my post-race feast and a nice cup (or three) of hot coffee on a very cold morning! The next race on my schedule is a home game for me. The Montvale 10 Miler is scheduled for March 23rd and I am looking forward to running a race just minutes for my house.
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