On Saturday, I headed down the road to run my first race of 2009 (and since my injury last year) in Bell Buckle: The RC Cola & Moon Pie 10-Miler.
This is one of my favorites races in the area, and this was my fourth year in a row to run in it. I keep recruiting new friends to join me, but I'm not so sure that I win them over with the idea of running the race as much as with the idea of a great meal at Miller's Grocery afterward.
This year, my pals Bennett and Tim decided to run along with Bob and his daughter Danielle's new hubby. My parents, Danielle and her mom all came along as spectators.
This race is advertised as hot, hilly and humid. All things are true when it's the third Saturday if June in middle Tennessee. However, this was definitely the hottest Moon Pie I've ever run. In fact, they said on the news last night that it was the hottest day of 2009 so far in Tennessee. We're pretty sure the heat index was really close to 100 before we were done with the race.
I started off conservatively, hoping to maintain 10-minute miles and use this as more of a training run and fun "first race back." The first 2 miles are down a long stretch of road with no shade. It didn't take me long at all to be drenched in sweat. I was excited about the water stop at mile 2, but I was pretty disappointed I had to stop and wait for water. In fact, I had to do that at all the water stops. They were not prepared and were scrambling to get water cups filled. This hasn't been a problem in past years, so it was kind of disappointing to see them struggle with it this year.
I kept going and soon found Bob. He was feeling pretty good and headed on his way. Soon after, I got to the big hill (big as in 7.6% grade for a tenth or two of a mile) and Matt found me. We chatted for a minute before I stopped to walk and he headed on.
I always walk up this hill. I think I spend way too much energy trying to run it, so I just walk as fast as I can. Two men that I'd been running near the whole time also stopped to walk, and one of them commented that he had never been in a race where everyone stopped to walk... because it was true. No one around us was running. I laughed to myself because that comment revealed he had never run this race.
There was actually some ice cold water at the top, but it was even an official water stop. The man who lives right there just always comes and sets out water for the runners. I felt like a new woman after I drank that water.
Of course, that didn't last long. I was happy to cross the 5-mile mark in 51 minutes. I was also happy because I knew there'd only be one or two more hills that aren't so bad.
I saw a guy wearing plaid shorts and a collared polo. I have never seen that in a race before. I had hoped to hang with him and beat him, but it turns out that Abercrombie was pretty fast.
I kept my eyes peeled for Amy, but I knew she'd be running faster than me and was likely already way closer to the finish than myself.
Around mile 8, I realized that other than my extended time at the water stops I really was keeping my 10-minute mile pace. I also knew that my music was definitely playing a big factor in getting me through this race. I couldn't help but laugh when Gwen Stefani's "Hollerback Girl" came on (don't judge, it's good to run to) and she got to the part about " This sh*t is bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S." I thought to myself, "this sh*t IS bananas! We are insane for running out here right now!"
I finally saw the mile 9 sign... right beside a big unshaded hill. I knew it was straight to the finish after that, so I kept on pushing and got myself to the top. I really wanted to start picking it up, but I just couldn't.
There was a girl that I had been going back and forth with for a few miles, and I decided that I had to beat her. Even though I thought it might lead to a finish line pueking incident, I started to sprint. I beat her. I had an uncertain few seconds, but I managed to not toss my cookies. The bottles of water at the finish were ice cold, and I'm pretty sure they never have been in previous years so this was exciting.
I didn't feel so hot for a while, so I passed on the finish line food and moon pies. I had to make a couple of portapotty trips, but I didn't really feel better until I was able to get inside the car with the a/c and cool off.
My watch said I finished in 1:41:26. I had hoped for 1:40, but I knew the extra time was from waiting at the water stops. I wasn't about to run past them... I NEEDED the little bit of hot water I could get at each one. They've never had a problem in the past, so I never dreamed that I should have run with my fuel belt. My official time ended up being 1:41:24 (yay 2 seconds!) with a 50:24 5-mile split... all in all, I stayed pretty consistent for the whole 10 miles, so I'll take that.
The whole gang headed to Miller's Grocery for lunch. This is an amazing little spot that has some true southern food that is delicious! It's the perfect way to end the morning.
I made a quick trip home and then headed to the lake for the rest of the weekend. I found this to be a nice way to recover! More on that in the next post.