On Saturday, I ran the Team Nashville 10-Miler! I hadn't run this race since 2006, and back then it was actually a half marathon. In fact, it was the first half marathon I had ever run!
Fall is beautiful in Tennessee, so I had been looking forward to running this race and enjoying all of the fall colors all week. I also needed to get a solid 16-17 miles in for my Huntsville training, and I find it's really helpful when part of such a long run is a race. Plus, it helps me to get a sense of how I'm doing in terms of my racing fitness.
I managed to talk the Bob into running this week as a way of going out of his 40s in style (since he'd be turning 50 the next day!) We got to the race, picked up our race hoodies (who can complain about a $23 race where you get a hoodie?!) and then sat in the truck to stay warm until start time.
At the start line, I easily found Amy since there were only about 130 runners. The three of us set out together chit chatting and settling into a groove. When I saw our first mile was done in 8:15, I felt a little nervous. I knew that this was a bit too fast for me, but I also wondered deep down if I could actually hold it.
We did slow down a tiny bit over the next mile or two, but I felt confident we were still clocking 8:30 or so. I think maybe we had a 9:00 around mile 3 or so.
Shortly before mile 5, I was feeling pretty good and decided to pull ahead of Amy and Bob. Part of me always feels a little bit bad about this because I hate leaving people behind, but at the same time it wasn't a training run (where I'm usually not as concerned about time) and I was curious to see how well I could do.
After running up a HUGE hill at mile 5, I used the downhill to coast a bit and catch my breath. I found myself running with this other man for about 2 miles. We didn't talk, but I could tell that we were silently pushing each other. Around mile 7, I realized that if I could keep up the pace, I could have a PR.
At mile 8, I decided that I needed to start picking people off. I knew that I'd never keep running this fast if I didn't make these tiny goals. So first it was the man wearing the CamelBak, mostly because I felt like that was a little excessive for a 10-miler. Then another man. Then I spotted a woman in a Flying Monkey shirt. It turned out to be the volunteer coordinator so I said a few words before pulling on ahead. Then a teenage boy. Then another woman.
Then I hit the big hill. I knew it was coming, and I hoped I had built up the extra time I would need to run up it and still get a PR. I kept checking my watch, but I'm terrible at math even when I'm not running... so I could never quite figure out how close I would be cutting it.
Once I reached the top, I knew I wasn't far from the finish. I started picking it up a little bit more and passed about 3 more men before crossing the finish line in 1:25:03. It was a new PR by 3:30!!!!! I was a little surprised at myself for being able to average an 8:30 pace!
I grabbed some Gatorade and trotted back out a bit so that I could cheer Bob and Amy on in. I made my way back over to them once they finished. Amy asked how I did. I told her. "Shit!!!" she said. Yep. That was kind of exactly how I felt.
It ended up that I got second in my age group (technically third, but I got bumped up since one of the top 3 women was in my group). I beat like 5 other people in my group. I was the 16th female, which I think is kind of cool.
The only disappointment of the day? I got an orange cooler for an award. I don't mean to sound all selfish, but I so rarely get an age group award that it was kind of a bummer to not get a medal or something. This cooler will more than likely end up in a yard sale.
Nonetheless, it was a super fun race. I was really excited with how well I did, to say the very least.
Then I came home and ran 6 more miles at the park in a little over an hour so that I could hit 16 miles for the day. It's not the same as running it all together, but I still feel like it was a pretty damn productive day in terms of both my racing and marathon training.
Here are a couple of photos...