Race Report: Adam's Heart 10 Miler, February 7, 2015, Oak Mountain, Alabama (1:22:05, PR)

First, let's go ahead and get something out of the way.  I won second overall female and stood on the podium.  The race was tough.  It felt damn good.

Done and dusted.
Adam's Heart is the first one of four in the Birmingham Track Club Series, which includes a 10-miler, a 15k, an 8.2-mile trail race, and a 10k.  The club offers one entry price for all four races, and the price is astonishingly low ($65!).  I signed up for this race along with all the others because...hey, might as well.  I'm in "marathon shape" right now, but I'm still paranoid some freak occurrence or injury might ruin my marathon experience.  So, this race is a good opportunity to cash in on some of that marathon training and enjoy some sweet Saturday-morning Track Club camaraderie in the process.  Basically, I went into this race feeling happy and relaxed, telling myself I could kick back and run a fast race without pushing too hard. 

The Course
Another something to get out of the way:  this course is tough.  It probably isn't good for a first race or PR attempt, especially for someone not accustomed to running hills.  Oh, the hills.

Oak Mountain Park.

This course has hills of EVERY variety...long grinds, short cliffs, false summits, blind curves, you name it.  And it's an out and back, so you get to see every hill both ways.  The largest hill happens right before the 10-mile turnaround, so you 1) fly down into a valley, 2) hit a water stop, 3) turn around, and 4) face the exact same hill in reverse.  It's a little...demoralizing.  I definitely felt this one the next day in my shins and calves. 

Look!  It's a Rorschach test of lower leg pain!

The course is also very beautiful, pastoral, and green.  It is a welcome change from my normal urban stomping grounds.  My GPS measured it as 10.1 miles, and a lot of other people got the same thing.  I'm going to go ahead and say the course was long, because I made a real effort to run the transects.  Each mile was marked, and things got wonky around mile 3.  This is just a guess, but it seems like maybe the 3-mile mark was placed at the 10k turnaround?  Maybe?

The Race
Like I said, I went into this race pretty low-key.  My only real goals were to run even splits, finish close to 80 minutes, not get injured, not overdress, not start too far back, and have a good time.  By those standards, I did pretty well. 

The start was a late 9:00am.  I missed packet pickup due to some work travel, so I got to the site around 8:15 to find my paperwork.  Because the Track Club was running things, packet pickup took all of 2 minutes.  Love those guys.  There wasn't any parking left at the pavilion when I arrived, so I parked at a nearby playground and jogged back and forth to warm up and stow my fleece jacket in the car.  By the time the gun went off, it was warm enough to run in shirt sleeves and light compression tights. I also had knit gloves, a ball cap, and sunglasses, and I was comfortable.

I am...behind the beet juice guys.
When I was heading over from the bathrooms to the start, I saw 5-6 dudes decked out in BRIGHT club kit with flashy logos for a "Multisport Racing" club in Florida.  Huh?  They had temporary tattoos on their arms for their ridiculous beet juice sponsor, so I guess that is a thing now?  In the field of about 300, I put myself in the third row back, behind approximately 30 other runners.  I was behind all the beet juice guys, that's for sure.  I'd say I did a good job estimating where to start, and I didn't feel penned in at the start.  An improvement over my Vulcan Run experience, I guess. 

1)   8:19- still probably started too far back
2)   7:47 - nice downhill, hit my stride and made a mental note to prepare for a climb at mile 8
3)   7:59 - ok, sweet
4)   8:26 - whoa real hill, got some water
5)   7:50 - WEEEEE!  downhill!
6)   8:50 - annnnd back up the hill
7)   7:58 - downhill, had to put the brakes on a bit
8)   8:26 - walked some of a steep climb
9)   8:06 - tried to gain back time on short downhill sections
10)  8:29 - through the chute with my legs rekt

The start was smooth, and I only glanced at my watch a few times during the first few miles.  It was cool to see the 5k folks (including a few beet juice guys, haha) making the turnaround.  I saw Pamela, a Track Club buddy, right behind the lead pack and I cheered for her.  I ran through the 5k turnaround and water stop and started an uphill climb.  It kind of shocked me!  Club friends had said, "road race, lots of rollers" but...HA.  Beet juice guys hit the 10k turnaround and started cruising toward me, just crushing the downhill.  I grabbed water at the 10k turnaround station and settled in to do the work required.

The biggest hill was right before my turnaround station, and the road had become very winding, with blind curves.  Morning vehicle traffic had started to pick up, and a lot of cars were pulling boats or horse trailers.  I felt a little vulnerable, but ran the transects.  I am not sure if the cars sped me up or slowed me down.  

I cruised into my turnaround station, scooped another small cup of water and used it to swallow a piece of orange taffy, then tried to act stoked about running back uphill.  I'm pretty sad about how the hills took a toll on my pace for the second half of the race.  There was also a very strong headwind, and I just felt like I rode the strugglebus a bit around mile 8.  I just tried to stay calm and walk for 10-second stretches in the few places I felt like I needed to.  It helped that a friend was taking some photographs at the top of a huge hill at mile 8, where I tried my best to look in control.

Here is the result

From that point on, I just focused on running smoothly to the finish.  There were several men running together about 10-15 feet behind me, and they kept trying to reel me in.  Totally didn't happen for them :)  As I got close to the finish line, there were some slower jogging ladies finishing the 10k, and all of this made the chute a little crowded.  The pictures are comedic gold, because I just kept running to get out the way of the whole dog-and-pony.

I finished in 1:22:05, which was good enough for second overall female.  Like I said, it was a tough little race, and there are fewer female runners in general where I live.  I've never raced this distance before, and I think the marathon training has caused me to think of it as a "short distance."  In retrospect, this is probably the wrong attitude.  I should have adjusted my pace more for the terrain, used more carbs, and pushed it more closer to the end.  Live and learn.  Either way, I stood on the box, got a sweet pint glass and tech shirt, and took pictures, all on a gorgeous sunny day.

The usual suspects.  Why, yes, I am quite tall.