There are a zillion words I could tell you about how much fun this was. But it wouldn’t even begin to tell the tale.
This will give you a better idea anyway.
So every race won’t be perfect. And that isn’t always something that can be helped. Sometimes things happen that are just out of a race director’s control. Before I start what I hope doesn’t sound like a rant, I want to make sure I clarify. I do not think my major issues with this race were in any way the fault of the race director or the charity that put on the race.
Okay, then. Here I go.
Saturday morning, Nathan and I ran the Hunger Run for River Cities Harvest. We grew up in Greenup County and like to do as many races there as possible. Not only does it make me happy to see that our small area is putting on races, but they are usually pretty cheap and pretty small. This one was no different. $18 for a 10K. Granted, the website says that 50/50 DriFit shirts were “guaranteed” to the first 150 racers. There were 80 racers combined in 5K and 10K. And we got cotton shirts. No big deal, though. It was $18 to a good cause.
My other beef with this race (that could have been controlled) was the late start. The race started at 9am. In July. It was hot when we got there. We split a bottle of water before we even got started. I was prepared to run the race, not race it. I knew that getting a PR would be next to impossible when it was 85* and 80% humidity when the race started. I checked my email and the website frantically so that I wouldn’t miss an early start announcement. But it never came.
9:00 it was.
We lined up with the other 20 people running the 10K. I chatted it up with a few other ladies who I thought I might be able to fall into a groove with. And we were off.
The first mile or so was really really fun. We ran around the old high school, down a nice hill, and through 2 railroad underpasses (one was long and uncomfortably dark). That’s when the field started to spread out a little. Going up the hill out of the second underpass, the ladies I had planned on hanging with started to walk. I wasn’t feeling that yet, so I kept going. I ran past the diary bar where my best friend worked in high school. My first mile was 10:26. That is ridiculously fast for me.
The second mile also wasn’t too bad. The course was close to the river, so it was mostly flat and pretty shady. But I knew that with such a small field, and the number of ladies behind me, I had a chance of placing in my age group. So I just kept running along. I saw an aid station coming up, so I drank about half of my handheld Gu powdered drink and topped it back off with water. My second mile was in 11:35. Much better 10K pace for me.
The third mile? I started to fall apart. The shade wasn’t as frequent. There wasn’t a lot to look at. I was really feeling the heat. The girl that I had kept in my sights was getting farther and farther away. I was not excited to be running. Not at all. I thought of Mark racing his first Ironman and that kept me going. I didn’t want to run anymore. I kept thinking that the late start time was stupid. That it was dangerous for us to be out. But there were two ambulances driving around, so that was comforting to me. Third mile: 12:32.
What I was most excited about with this race was the second half. Once the route crossed the railroad tracks, it went through my hometown. Past the grocery store, the post office, the middle school, the church that held my favorite Bible school, the railroad my dad used to work at, the place I had my 16th birthday party. The second half was going to be fun. That’s what got me through those first 3.8 miles before we crossed the railroad tracks.
Oh, wait. The railroad tracks. Between the time that the quick people crossed the tracks and when the fun runners made it there, a train had crossed the tracks. And stopped. As I approached the intersection, I could see people standing there trying to decide what to do. I watched as two ladies decided to go walking down the other set of tracks to see how far it was to the end of the train. I stood there – in some man’s yard – talking to the homeowner and another runner. Trying to figure out what to do. The other runner decided to join the other ladies in pursuit of the end of the train. It didn’t feel safe to me. I didn’t want to get hit by a train, and I didn’t want to stand there for who knows how long to wait for it to start moving again. I asked the other runner to find my husband when he finished (I mean, how hard is it to find a big red beard?) and tell him that I was retracing the first half of the course and to come and pick me up. We exchanged names and descriptions. He took off one way, and I took off the other.
I was signing on for more distance than a 10K. Because I didn’t want to just stand there and get more overheated. I wanted to be done running. I didn’t want to make it last any longer. Not long after I turned around, I came across one of the ambulances. It stopped and I informed them of what I was doing and why. The passenger let me know that they would keep an eye on me. And he gave me a bottle of water. I came across 8 or 9 runners behind me. I let them know that the train had stopped and I was turning back. In the next mile, I could see that the train still wasn’t moving. But I was happy that I was still moving. Mile 4 was rough. I was back in the hot, shadeless part of the run. I had the worst mile there at 13:02. Such a far cry from 10:26. I could tell that the train started moving almost exactly a mile after I had turned around. I was so glad I hadn’t stood there for 12 minutes.
Somewhere around mile 5, I took off my number. I felt so much better once I took that off. I was just a lonely runner out there, having a lonely bad run. A bad run felt completely different in my head than a bad race. The ambulances stopped to chat with me a few times, giving me water. I expressed my concern about running through the tunnels and was assured that there were raised sidewalks. Okay, then. I was running until Nathan came to get me. Oh, and they gave me another bottle of water. Greatly appreciated.
Even with the heat, I finished the 10K in 1:15:something. I kept my garmin on because I was giving myself credit for every step that I ran, but I felt at that point I had finished what I’d set out to do. So I could walk as much as I wanted to after that. And I walked a lot.
The tunnels were interesting. The sidewalk stayed at a level even with the tops of the cars, so I got no light from headlights at all. I stepped in a big puddle and got scared to death by a pigeon. Or maybe I scared him to death. Probably a little of both. Either way, that bird was the most dangerous part of my day.
I made it through the second tunnel, turned right, and saw my awesome husband
on his great white steed in our lovely beige Altima coming toward me. I stopped my garmin at 6.97 and happily climbed in the passenger set. The guy had given him the message and he came back for me. I wanted to go back to the clock and let them know that I was safe and Nate wanted to go see if he’d won anything, so back to the race site we went. I went to the finish line, showed my number, and announced that I did not finish. Yup, my first DNF. Yes, I did more than the distance, but I didn’t do almost half of the course. I didn’t feel right crossing the finish line. So I didn’t. (If I had crossed at 1:15, I’d have finished 2nd in my age group.)
As I watched people come in, I learned something that still chills me to the bone. The ladies behind me? They climbed BETWEEN TRAIN CARS. They didn’t go around, they went BETWEEN. We were in a train town. I can see where the runners were from and they all grew up around trains too. You don’t take any chances with trains, friends. You just don’t. This scared me to death. We are so lucky no one was hurt or killed. I still can’t believe that happened.
But there is good news! My Nathan finished 2nd Overall Male!
So, yeah. I’m strangely peaceful about my first DNF. I made the best decision for me. I was in a situation that I knew I had someone to come back for me. I had multiple options to get in support vehicles and be taken to the finish. I truly feel that the race supported me on the repeat of the first half. I just can’t believe people climbed between train cars. *shudder*
And I also wish I’d ran the BG10K. Oh well. I still rocked the Big Hand.
Thanks so much, Amber!
Wednesday I woke up at 5:45, well to be honest the alarm went off at 5:45 and I actually got up at 6:00. I did my normal pre-run routine, coffee and oatmeal with fresh fruit, half a banana, and let Lola (the dog of the house) outside. I was walking from home to the race start so I knew I would have the walk to wake up. I met my brother outside and we leisurely walked toward the race start. I arrived at Thoroughbred Park at approximately 7:00 a.m. which I thought was a touch early but everyone was already geared up and ready to go. The LexRunLadies group was congregated and the excitement and nervousness was palpable! The weather was great, clear sky and in the mid-70s, a beautiful morning.
The starting line was crowded and steamy, as expected. There were over 3015 finishers for the race this year, which was the 36th running of the Bluegrass 10,000. I do not race very often, so I when I do I try to pick well organized and coordinated events with some significance for me. The Bluegrass 10,000 has quite a reputation in Lexington and it seems all the natives hold it in a special place. I was so impressed by the community involvement along the entire course. There were neighborhoods out cheering and spraying us with water hoses (welcomed cool zones on a hot morning). Aside from the wonderful crowds and cheering the race itself was precisely coordinated and ran (pun intended) smoothly. The organizers did an impeccable job. The course was well marked with signs every mile and plenty of volunteers at every turn. There were adequate water stations along the course which is so important on a hot morning like yesterday. The firefighters, volunteers, and kind spectators had water hoses and “cool mist zones” set up along the course. Initially I found myself avoiding the water but during the second half of the race I ran through every sprinkler I could, like a kid in the backyard.
I guess this brings me to the part of the review about the course. After the start signal there was an agonizing 4 minute time gap before I got to cross the start gates then we took off toward downtown. We saw the finish line and got a glimpse of all the festivities awaiting us after 6 short (?) miles. I started slow, I have a nasty little habit of starting out too fast then running out of energy, so the plan was to start out slower than I wanted then “kick it in” in the second half of the race. The first 2 miles were flawless, mostly flat and downtown. I saw Krissie and Ann on Vine Street with an awesome silver hand sign and was feeling good. Then, we started out Richmond Rd toward Shriner’s hospital and were met with a long gradual climb toward Clay Street. This was not a bad hill, especially if you have been running out at Legacy, but nonetheless takes a bit of energy out of your legs. As we ran past the Henry Clay estate the hill let up and I started noticing all the spectators and signs. The crowd was great, both sides of Richmond Rd and the median were full of people watching and cheering. We saw the elite pack running to our left, having already made the turn-around, on their way to the finish.
As we approached the turn-around we heard live music from the median and my pace quickened. I was ready for the turn-around, it was starting to really heat up and get steamy, and I needed the mental boost of knowing I was on my way back. My original “plan” told me I should be quickening the pace here…ah plans. I did as much as I could to get my pace up but I had not factored in just how much the heat was going to zap my energy. Mile 4 was tough, tired, and grimy. I think my pace was a touch quicker on the way back and we got to run downhill heading back to downtown. It provided a boost mentally and physically. The last mile was the best of the race for me; I could see the finish line for about a mile before we reached it. I mustered up some energy and just kept going (I like to sing the Dory song: “just keep swimming” when I get tired, somehow it always helps). I saw Krissie and the awesome silver hand again just before the finish and pushed hard to get a few seconds on my time. I crossed the finish line, almost ran into some people in the shoot, and grabbed and chugged a blue Gatorade. I finished!
As a wrap-up I loved this race. Even with the heat and humidity, even though I didn’t PR, and even though I didn’t run a time I was shooting for. I would sign up again, tomorrow. I was lucky enough to have my Dad and brother both there to support me. I felt like this was the most representative Lexington race I have seen so far. I loved knowing that the other LexRunLadies were there, some doing their first 10K, others running one of many. Congratulations to everyone who finished. It was a great experience!
The Summer Runners plan isn’t just for those who want to run a 5K. Some of you can already do that and want to know what’s next. Easy!
This 10K is held on July 4th. Yes, it is July. Yes, it is hot. But it is a great day to start your holiday! It is a very high energy race with lots of spectators and even a few bands! It is a good time that you really don’t want to miss!
The program we are doing is based on the Hal Higdon Novice 10K training program. This program is based on mileage not time. I think it gets you better prepared to run the distance and will help you not feel like you are regressing if you are a recent C25K graduate.
I’ll be getting out more information in the coming weeks, but I wanted to give you the basic information.
Our first official 10K training run will be May 13th. We will be meeting Sundays at 4. The same time and location as the C25K runners. There will just be two different groups training at the same time. Locations will be posted here, on facebook, and on twitter as usual.
The training program available in both an excel format and a google calendar. Although the training will officially start in May, you want to make sure you are ready to jump right in! So my suggestion is that you follow the first week of the program from now until then.
Monday – Stretch and Strengthen
Tuesday – 2.5 mile run
Wednesday – 30 minutes cross training
Thursday – 2 mile run + strength
Friday – Rest
Saturday – 40 minute cross training
Sunday – 3 mile run
I’ll be posting additional ideas for stretch/strengthening and cross training, but for now, just do the best you can. You can also find Hal Higdon’s suggestions here.
Spread the word! Keep coming back here on Thursdays for more info.
And get excited! You’re going to run a 10K!!