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Last week on a spur of the moment decision I signed up for a 10K to get my legs moving and mix things up a bit. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve raced a 10K and I use the term race loosely. Lets just put this out there right now…this was one of my slowest 10K races to date. It was also a ton of fun, hills killing me and all…as running should be! I haven’t been following any sort of training plans lately, but listening to my body and staying active, so while I did have some goals and expectations, I also wasn’t going to beat myself up for not hitting them.

While it’s been awhile since I’ve raced a 10K, it’s been even longer since I ran a race with Rock’n’Roll. In fact, the last Rock’n’Roll race I toed the start line for was the Arizona Marathon in 2012. That unfortunately, was my only DNF ever when I dropped out at mile 8.5 with what I later found out was bronchitis, a fever and a sinus infection. Needless to say, there’s been some need for redemption in Arizona, even if it was 20 miles less ;)

I was extremely impressed with the growth of their expo from the last one I attended and just their overall organization. Having worked in the race industry for a few years now, I find myself constantly comparing, contrasting and seeing it all with my event planner hat on, while also trying to enjoy it as an athlete.

The start line for the 10K and half marathon was on the ASU campus, not far from my brother’s apartment on the other side of Tempe Town Lake. Not wanting to deal with parking, traffic around the course, the light rail, etc I met my brother nice and early on Sunday morning, where he then dropped me as close as he could to the start line and took my car back to his apartment to get after the race. I was about .4 miles from the start and used the walk as part of my warm-up. I came in at the back of the start line which was perfect for bag check and porto-pottie stops. Since I was a bit early, I walked around, got my lay of the land and most importantly, never waited more than 2 minutes for a porto-pottie. They had so many!!! Weird that I noticed that? Maybe, but it made event planners and runners alike happy! There was a bit of confusion on my part for bag check. They were using UPS trucks and the trucks were lined up in last name alphabetical order for drop off, but all the trucks said half-marathon. I didn’t see a single truck that said 10K, despite my information saying there would be a 10k bag check. After asking a few different people I was finally able to discern that the trucks were actually being used for the 10K and half-marathon together. Not exactly clear, but no harm done.

With my bag dropped I proceeded toward coral 2 (my assigned corral) and did a little warm-up. Not knowing how I’d actually run, I simply entered my best 10K time for reference and corral placement. They had the half-marathoners and 10K runners start together before splitting at mile 2.5. Being in corral 2, this didn’t cause any issues for me, nor was I ever confused about staying to the left at 2.5 miles for the 10k turn off.

The thing about this course is that I actually ran a good portion of it a few week prior with my brother for a long run. That meant I knew there were hills and that running along the water front of Tempe Town Lake is my favorite! My initial plan was to pace this as a progression run. I’ve been working on having faster finish runs since this summer. After heading East on campus we turned North to cross over Tempe Town Lake before running West along the water front and finally South back over Tempe Town Lake. While both bridges provided incline, the biggest hill actually came on Curry Road between miles 4.5 and 5. It is a deceptively long hill to the top. Prior to this hill, I’d been feeling really good actually. After we split from the half-marathoners at mile 2.5 I barely saw anyone on the course. The 10K was truly the smaller of the races happening, but that meant open road and path for me, which I’ll always take. In some instances along the water front, I felt like I was just out for another long run. Just before the hill I started catching some of the people in front of me and was feeling good to run reasonably well. That hill however, had other ideas for me. Even knowing it was coming, it killed me and I watched my pace slowly drop. I am happy to say I didn’t walk or think of walking despite people around me doing just that and was even able to pick up the pace across the final bridge again and into the finish line. My last .2 miles were actually at a 6:36 pace, something I haven’t seen since before my hip surgery 3 years ago and clearly, I had something left.

After my brother had dropped my car back at his apartment, he headed back out on his skateboard to come cheer me on at the finish line, which it’s always fun to see someone you know on the course!

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My final time was 51:30, well off a PR and like I prefaced this novel, one of my slowest 10Ks ever. I was actually shocked that it placed me 4th in my age group. Definitely a small race! But I had fun out there, even the hill. It felt good to be at a start line again, push myself and race into the finish. And if you’re still reading my novel at this point, THANK YOU!

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I’ll leave you with this, the 1.5 mile walk back to my car post race on the course, including going up the hill backwards had me in one of those “and I thought this hill was tough” moments. But in true Arizona fashion as I’m finding, the view is always worth it!

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Final Time: 51:30 {8:18/mile pace}

 

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