Today was finally Columbus 10K day! I took it easy this past week because I’m heading into my final weeks of down time before marathon training and because I knew I wanted to try to run hard in this race if the weather was right. There were some nice cool mornings this week so running in zone 2 was much easier and more enjoyable, especially after last Saturday’s horribly humid run. I put in 11 miles total for the week and didn’t do any speed work. It was a nice break and some good down time before today’s race.
This is a smaller race, so there is no expo. The race is put on by Columbus Running Company, so participants just pick up their race bibs at any of their locations. This worked out well since there is one close by to my office. I stopped by at lunch on Friday and picked up a nice red v-neck Columbus 10K shirt and my bib. The person helping me took a minute to go into their computer system and put my bib number in with my entry information and then I was on my way.
Saturday night my husband and I decided to head out to dinner and ended up at Bareburger, a organic, free-range restaurant. There were so many things on the menu I wanted to try, but I decided to play it safe and just went with a turkey burger and a strawberry lemonade. It was delicious and I was stuffed! I will definitely be going back to try out some of their more adventurous burgers like boar and ostrich.
On Memorial Day, Courtney and I had gone to run the 10K course with her fiancé Jim so we knew what to expect heading into the race. The course has some small rolling hills and I was happy to know this going into it so there were no surprises! The race started downtown at COSI and went through downtown and then onto the bike trail. Since it was Sunday, all the meter parking was free which was a nice bonus. The race has a late start, 8:30, but there was a 1K Kid Fun Run that started at 8:10. Courtney decided to sign her son up for it and ended up running it with him. I had so much fun cheering all of the kids on and they seemed really happy and excited to finish the race. It was a neat experience that I usually miss – a lot of races around here have the kids run the day before or after the rest of the racers have taken off. The kids even got really nice medals!
I didn’t have high expectations for this race. Since it’s June and it didn’t start until 8:30 I knew the heat could be a factor. It was a pretty mild morning, sunny, but the humidity wasn’t as bad as last weekend. My plan was to start with the 8:30 pace group and see how I felt after 2-3 miles. I’ve only run one other 10K and it was when I first started running so I didn’t have a lot of pressure for beating that time. Courtney and Nicole also lined up with me at the 8:30 pace group and after a quick playing of the National Anthem, we were off!
The first part of the course went through downtown and luckily the buildings provided a lot of shade. There was a water stop about 1.5 miles in and I had planned to drink a little at every stop and dump the rest down my back to stay cool. This ended up working out great. After mile 1 (8:24), Nicole started to speed up and leave the pace group. Courtney and I looked at each other and kind of laughed, Nicole is speedy and neither of us expected her to actually stay with us the entire race. I was feeling pretty good after mile 1 and happy to see that my Garmin was lined up well with the mile markers. I generally don’t like to run with pace groups because I feel crowded-in, but I knew I wanted to start off conservatively so I could speed up if I had it in me. During the second mile, I lined myself up with the front of the pace group to get out of the group. I could tell Courtney wasn’t at my side, but she had already mentioned she wasn’t going to be running hard so I didn’t think much of it. Mile 2 ticked by quickly (8:23) and I decided to pick up pace just a bit.
I knew there was an incline at the end of mile 3, so I wanted to take it conservatively. I was happy to find that there was still plenty of shade on the bike path and began to catch up with those that went out too fast. It’s always a nice feeling to pass people instead of being passed! I was worried I was taking it too fast, but because of the rolling hills sometimes my downhill times sped up a bit. I still felt good so I kept at it, hitting mile 3 at a 8:16 pace. The incline at the end of mile 3 wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be (probably because I had run it both last Saturday and the Monday before) and I took advantage of it to pass a few more people.
Heading into mile 4, I decided to try to stay at the 8:15 pace. I had been running pretty steadily with another guy and was using him a bit to keep my pace and he seemed to be doing the same. Mile 4 felt the longest and it was also a bit sunnier. The mile clocked in at 8:08 and I was worried I’d picked up the pace too soon, but I was still feeling good and knew I only had 2 to go. My mental game was really on during this race and things were going a lot better than I suspected they would for it being a warm race.
Mile 5 was sunny and rolly, but I knew there were a few good downhills that I could cruise down. I realized at this point that I was really enjoying being in a quieter race with pretty much no crowd support. Sometimes all of the hoopla and people around make it hard to relax and enjoy the run. I had my music blaring and was happy with the songs that were coming up on my shuffle. I hit mile 5 at a 8:07 pace and was excited to just have one mile left. I was ready to be done and knew I had it in me to push a bit more on the last mile, especially knowing there was a good downhill into the finish.
I pushed ahead into the final mile and was just in a really good place in my head. I had done the sip & dump at the second and third water stations, really making sure to get some water on the back of my neck at the third. This was good because it was starting to get hot at this point and the sun was beating down. I really wanted to rip my visor off, but knew I would regret having the sun glare. I started to worry again maybe I was going too fast since I still had an extra .20 to hit after 6 miles, but told myself to keep pushing and mile 6 beeped in at a 7:51 pace. At this point I knew I’d gotten a negative split and was really happy. I kicked it into high gear for the last .20, sprinting into the finish.
I was elated when I finished and relieved that my body had adjusted enough to the heat to allow me to have such a good race. When I crossed the finish line I was handed a medal and a reusable water bottle filled with cold water. That made me so happy! For a split second, I did wonder if I looked like I was going to fall over and if that was why they handed me a bottle (my face gets very red when I run), but then I realized everyone was getting them. I glanced around and quickly found Nicole with our other friends waiting near the finish line in the shade.
While hanging with my friends, the guy I had sort of been running with found me and told me good job, pointing out that he had been right on my tail until the last mile. I told him I had been using him to pace myself and congratulated him as well. Our friend Megan walked away with a new PR and got 1st in her age group! My finish time was 50:29 which was really exciting to me. I hadn’t paid attention to my overall time during my run, just current mile and overall mileage so I had no clue how I was netting out. It turns out I finished 11th in my age group which was equally exciting. Courtney finished shortly after me and we got together for a group picture.
Everything really came together for this race which was nice since it was my last and only race I had planned to push myself in until the marathon. When I woke up this morning my resting heart rate was a few beats below average and the lowest it had been all week so I knew I could probably hang at a faster pace. I looked at the weather when I got up it said it was 100% humidity, but the early morning was really cool and there was a breeze so I would be surprised if the barometer hadn’t dropped before race time. Even though it was warm and sunny, the shade on the trail really helped.
After the race there was free food and refreshments, but I was ready to head home and take a shower! Plus, there was apparently a bike race going on and police were threatening to tow cars right in the area I was parked – oops! The officer down near my (legal) parking spot basically acknowledged without saying it that it wasn’t really clear that it was a no-parking zone that morning and helped all of us get our cars out safely. I don’t actually think they were planning to tow, just hoping people would move.
Overall, I thought this was a great race. It was nice to run a smaller, quieter race, and the race fees were reasonable. The packet pick up was easy and I loved getting a nice water bottle at the end! The course was pretty and it was nice to race somewhere a little different. I would definitely recommend this race and hope to do it again next year.