Official time: 38:13. 18th out of 459.
This race popped onto my radar a few weeks ago when some of the WTAC guys started talking about it. After the rolling calamity which was the Li'l Rhody Runaround this seemed like a good road event that might allow me to regain confidence. Plus the distance - 10k instead of 5k - was appealing as it's not a distance I usually race. A few weeks ago I calculated my time using VDOT and it spit out 38:52. This seemed pretty bold so I was aiming for a sub-40 minute performance.
The race begins near and ends at the Rogers High School. Met up with the WTAC crew before the race and did a couple miles of warm-up. They immediately entered a park across the street from the High School and I broke my Trail Moratorium three days early. Forgive me! But there were no incidents with the foot and it was fun listening to the guys discuss strategy and the upcoming Old Mountain Field 5k. This was actually a pretty cool little park with wooded trails, great elevated views and a giant rock wall with a mysterious door. As crazy as it sounds this was the first time I've done a group run with anyone since I started running again. Very enjoyable and hopefully I'll get in some longer trail runs with these guys soon.
Then it was time to make our way to the starting line. Lots of fast people there and last year's team winners - Tuesday Night Turtles - were once again well represented. I lined up behind the WTAC guys and was determined not to go out as fast as at Li'l Rhody. The gun went off and I settled into a 6:20 pace as people passed by me. I kept glancing at my Garmin for the first two miles. 6:10 pace. 6:35 pace. 6:12 pace. Finally as I approached Bretton Point I was able to tune it out for the most part and focus on just running at a good hard pace.
The field was spread out as we passed Bretton Point. Now I began slowly overtaking the various people in front of me. As we rounded the southern edge of BP, there was a major headwind - I looked down at the road ahead of me and tried not to slow down. I hit the halfway mark and looked at my watch - 19:30. Pretty pleased as this is a good 5k time for me and I felt that I could keep this pace which would set me up to finish around 39 minutes.
By miles 4 & 5 I had settled into a good rhythm, picking off the runners and moving closer to the next. Just before mile 5 the race intersects with the 3.5 mile walkers and suddenly there were lots of people to avoid. Not a big deal but occasionally they would be spread out as much as four people across the road which was aggravating to avoid.
At mile 6 I was feeling the fatigue. I could only see one more runner ahead of me (in a green tank top) and I didn't think I was gaining fast enough to overtake him. The course veered north onto Carroll Ave and now I was really working. When I hit the section of the course we had run in the warm-up I knew it was almost over. The course turned onto Ruggles Ave and I was getting pretty close to Green Tank Top. There's a big hill right before the finish and I was determined not to loose speed. Green Tank Top made the mistake of hugging the left side of the road whereas I took the direct line up the right and tried to push it up the hill with whatever I had left.
At the top of the hill it was a short run into the high school parking lot. Cheerleaders line both sides of the road which was a nice touch. As I entered the corral I saw the timer (38:1x) and was thrilled. Not only was I able to maintain my pace - I actually did one better and hit a negative split. In VDOT I Trust from now on I guess. The usual suspects were all milling about the finish line. Mike G and Justin led the way for Team WTAC and Jonny and Jeff both had big PRs. I thought maybe we could take the team award but TNT eked out another win by just over a minute. So close!
Did a quick cooldown, grabbed some soup in the overpacked gymnasium and then left in a hurry. Met up with my wife and daughter and we headed to Providence for a cookie bake-off. Ate way too many cookies and earned every one of them. I didn't feel so great afterwards but it was worth it!