Last year, I ran the race for the first time and finished in 48:24. Since it was the first 10k I had run in a very long time (and the first one on roads instead of trails) it was a PR for me. The course is tough but somehow manages to be very fast. It draws a lot of speedy runners for several different reasons...it's the RRCA state championship, the prizes are great, it has a regional cult following, and it's been consistently well produced for 41 years. I mean, the winner this year ran 29:41, which...if that doesn't motivate you to crush the course, nothing will.
|From last year's finish. You can tell it's last year's photo because: sun, cool weather, breastfeeding boobs, old crappy Garmin.|
This year, I ended up with another PR, finishing in 47:46. That felt good! Also, I placed much higher than last year, won an age group award, and earned a "Top 200" trophy shirt. Seriously, the shirt was all I really wanted going into this race! The not so good: I woke up in a funk and couldn't pull myself together, the weather was horrible, and the day just felt a little weird overall.
On to the recap!
|The four weeks prior. The races are in pink, so you can see how I let myself recover from my half marathon, then quickly turned it around with another "peak" week.|
I didn't really train especially for this race, just ran it at my current fitness level. I raced the 4 Bridges Half Marathon on October 18. Then, I had a 30-mile week without any "hard" runs and one really miserable Saturday long run where I hit the wall eight miles in. I bounced back, though, and the week after that was 40 miles with a tempo, a speed workout, and a decent eleven-miler. The week of the Vulcan 10k, I took it a bit easier and did one moderate-length run. I was so pleased with my decision back in October to do a fartlek workout on the treadmill two days out, then take the day before the race as a rest day, that I did that same thing again. I did a lot of weight training in the weeks before the race, because I have just started another four-week cycle of lifting heavy. I wasn't too concerned with feeling "fresh" for the race, because I figure a 10k doesn't require that type of endurance.
We're pretty much back to our ordinary diet of plant based foods with lots of spice. The week of the race was my husband's peak week for marathon training, so we ate like kings. He's vegan, so I made an effort to do legit vegan dinners. I'm not going to lie...I put on a few pounds at the beginning of the month (they've vanished now but my speed shorts were tight for a while haha). I mostly want to show this picture because it's a pretty picture of a meal I love.
|Roasted potatoes with three-bean chili, soy yogurt, and fresh cilantro.|
Because we were at home on Friday night, I made our usual homemade pizza and had a few slices with my traditional pre-race dark beer.
|Pre-race fueling sorted. I also like to use my lucky trophy glass from my overall place at this year's Adam's Heart Run.|
I know I probably come across as negative and entitled when I say, "this really wasn't my day," especially since I got a PR. But it really wasn't. Let me explain. The weather here hasn't really cooled off yet, and it is more humid than ever. Race day was around 60 degrees, with 98% humidity and rain. I woke up the morning of the race and saw that it was pouring and my immediate thought was, "I could sit this one out...I didn't pay for a registration or anything." I realized I had to take my dog out, so I dressed in my running clothes anyway. My stomach and back felt very uncomfortable, and I was oddly very hungry. I decided what I had planned (banana and caffeinated Clif Shot) wasn't going to cut it. Instead, I had a piece of bread with peanut butter, half a banana, and most of my Shot. I felt very nauseated.
|Keeping my bathroom breakfast tradition alive.|
I took my dog for a little walk, weighing my options. The weather was just miserable, and my dog was not into the walk. I decided I wouldn't run, and headed back inside. I felt relieved. By that time, my husband was awake and making coffee, and he asked, "are you excited to race!??!" UGGGGH. I had about 30 minutes to get over to the start (about half a mile from our home). I didn't say anything, just pinned my bib on my shirt, grabbed a house key and a rain jacket, and hit the bathroom one last time.
Surprise, surprise, I started my period. (Apologies if there are any...like 12-year-old boys reading, but this stuff is real and it happens and most female runners spend a good bit of time thinking, planning, wondering, and worrying about how it's all going to play out with running and racing. So there.) All I could think was, GREAT now I'm totally going to run...things are too ridiculous not to.
|Lining up. I'm in the middle of the frame, in my stylish neon yellow singlet and digital leopard print booty shorts. Yes, you read that correctly.|
I jogged over to the starting area, found a place to stash my jacket, and got in the starting chute. So many of my friends were lining up, and they were all so chipper and energetic, that it really helped a lot. I found some folks who run my speed and stood with them. I didn't warm up, I didn't feel nervous or exited or anything. The rain was really annoying me and I still couldn't get on board with running in it for almost an hour.
Total aside: the woman who sang the national anthem was super talented, and it was a very uplifting moment. I watched the elite runners finishing up their strides and felt a little better. But, even as the gun went off, I was still thinking "what am I doing?"
|Fast folks in front. The winner is front and center in yellow.|
My splits were: 7:25, 7:38, 8:02, 7:38, 7:24, 7:33, 7:06. I started my watch at the mat, and went through the chute with everyone else. After five blocks, I glanced down at my watch and saw a 6:25 average pace, even though I felt sluggish and tired. We passed my building, and I thought about my family inside in their dry pajamas, eating Saturday pancakes. Mostly, I was feeling very thirsty. Thirsty enough that I was licking rainwater off my lips and the backs of my hands. We ran past some folks with small cups of water, and I grabbed one and poured it at my mouth without slowing down. That helped.
|Route, splits, elevation, and HR. This is a screenshot from Strava.|
At the beginning of mile two, I was happy with my placement and reeled in my pace some. I knew the next few miles would have some climbing and I didn't want to burn out. I always try to run even splits, because I think running with discipline is important (and I'm a control freak haha). Halfway through mile two, some track club friends cheered for me and told me I looked strong. That helped some more.
The climbing in mile three wasn't too bad. The GAP for that mile was 7:25, so I feel like I ran it at a good effort. It helps that I run the route regularly, and I know what to expect. I heard my friend Fletcher calling my name, and as he caught up to me he said, "is it okay if I pace off of you?" I said of course and he told me his knee was bothering him. I told him not to think about it and we ran together for a while. He dropped back after a while, and I felt bad about leaving him.
I caught up to another friend, Teresa, who is a masters runner and the nicest lady. We started the downhills together, and she came along when I picked up the pace. We were running elbow to elbow for the rest of the race, just making silly comments with the little energy we had to spare. Near the end of mile five, she pointed to a long line of pigeons roosting on a telephone wire and said, "Look at those birds. So calm and peaceful. They are smarter than us." For some reason, I just laughed and laughed. When we turned onto the final stretch, Teresa said, "Rheagan, I'm glad you're here" and I told her I was glad she was there as well. I don't know...that sort of made the whole race worthwhile for me. Teresa ended up winning an overall master's award, so if I was able to pace her and help her accomplish that, then I am glad I decided to pin my bib on after all. Feelings, man.
At the very last moment, a woman in my age group came out of nowhere and beat me by less than two seconds, which I am still kind of mad about. It happens. Another total aside: my fried Fletcher came in #200 and snagged the last shirt.
|Arms up! I was just so glad the whole thing was over. That's Teresa in the white hat finishing just behind me.|
The finishing area was very wet, and the rain was starting to pick up. I was shocked when a volunteer handed me a "top 200 runner" voucher. Oh yeah! I forgot about the shirt!!! I posted about it after last year's race, but the Vulcan 10k has "trophy shirts" for the top 200 finishers. It is a tradition from the very first race 41 years ago, and I narrowly missed earning one in 2014. I was giddy to see my little slip of paper, and headed inside to collect my shirt before the small sizes ran out.
|Finishing area...it was too gross to hang out, anyway.|
Inside, I took full advantage of the free beer. After I had a bottle of Gatorade and a quart of water, I had a couple (okay three) from Good People Brewery. Then some trail mix. I felt much more optimistic.
|Post race party. There is free beer from two breweries, free sausage and waffles from Waffle House, a snack bar donated by Girls on the Run, and a miniature expo with booths for regional track clubs and distance projects. It's pretty chill.|
My friend Fletcher texted my bib number to the timing company's app, and we saw that I won third in my age group! I know that's nothing for y'all fast folks to get excited about, but I was pretty pleased! I always stay for the whole awards ceremony if I can, and I was delighted to collect my own prize. I joke that I am always fourth in my age group, but it's true. The struggle is real :)
|Sorry for my shorts. Sorry I'm blinking. But how could I NOT share this?|
|First place didn't show, so I figured I'd just sneak onto the top of the podium. Just kidding, I was losing my balance.|
|The medal is pretty sweet, too.|
I stayed until the last prize was handed out, snagged another beer, and said goodbye to my friends. I walked home just in time to make myself a healthy lunch and take a little nap. Not every race day feels awesome, but I always enjoy the time I spend running.
Until next time...enjoy the rest of your week, everyone!