A while back, Peter B. and I decided to skip the running of Army 10 miler because the logistics just were not working out for either of us. Then, in my never ending search for events, I came across another race in just the right spot between Twin Cities and OBX: The Tobacco Road 10 miler.
A few emails later, Megan and Ben were on board for the trip with Mike on the fence. Then, through some strange turn of events Mike actually made it into the race after it had already closed. If you are interested in his story, you will have to ask him.
But clearly, the stars were looking down on him because he ended up winning the race. Megan made the women's winner work pretty hard before coming home in 2nd place. I did my best to hold up my end of the equation by finishing 5 overall and winning the Master award (well – sort of – more about it later on)
With the race being in Cary, NC we decided to drive up Friday night and stay in a local hotel so that we would be fresh and ready to go on Saturday morning.
This was the 3rd year that this race had been held, but in my opinion it still has a few logistic issues. First, the start is about ½ mile away from the packet pick up area. The parking is in yet another location while the finish is in still another location.
Port-a-jons, this is a must for every running event. They had enough port-a-jons, but they were all at the race packet pick up area. With the starting being ½ mile away, there wasn't much chance for a last minute pit stop. Just my opinion, but I would like to see some of the port-a-jons at the starting area.
We all cruised around trying to get warm and stay warm as the temperatures were in the upper 30s. Megan finished her warm up first because the ladies went off first at 8:50. The men went off at 9AM.
Having two different start times was nice and a necessity because once the runners hit the trail there isn't much room. Also having two different start times, gave me a chance to compare the size of the men's and women's fields. Normally, I guess that I have come to expect more men than women at race. However, in my opinion, the women clearly outnumbered the men in this race.
Mike and I watched Megan head out and then finished with some last minute strides before the race start.
Then, we were off. Two guys jumped out fast. There were about 6 of us making up a 2nd pack. Mike was moving up during the first mile and ½. And, I realized that I wasn't going to be able to stay with him. Clearly, his legs were fresh and ready to go. He moved into 2nd place with 3rd place guy was right on his shoulder. I was not really closing on them.
The course was your average out and back course. We ran a little past 5 miles so that the finish could remain on the trail. The start of the race was on the paved road. Of the two halves, the first 5 miles was the faster with more downhill than uphill. But just like that old adage, "what goes down must come up" (to paraphrase) we had to come back up the hills to finish.
My 5 mile split over this section was 28:50. Right before the turn, I saw the leader coming followed by Mike and the 3rd place guy close behind him. However, unlike Twin Cities, Mike had that look in his eye. The look that means I am feeling good and have plenty left in the tank. And, the leader was starting to look like he was struggling.
On the way back, the course had two long uphill sections. One this first one, I ran a 6:06. Then, miles 7 to 8 and ½ ran pretty before starting the last mile and ½ climb.
I could feel my legs starting to tighten up. The outside of my left quad was feeling it the worst.
Just before the finish, I heard Ben yelling for me and I could see the orange cones. I was never happier to see the finish of a race.
A few more warm down miles with Ben, Mike, and Megan topped off the day.
We then headed over to the packet pick up area where they were having the awards ceremony.
The post race snacks were not that bad: figs, bananas, apples, pretzels, and sports drink. Also they had the deep fried chicken sandwiches from Chick-fi-la. I cannot remember the last time, that I had something deep fried. Definitely, it has been a while. They went down okay, but soon my stomach came back with – "you shouldn't have eaten those".
Now for the awards explanation I promised earlier.
This was the RRCA 10 mile championship race and was something that I very much wanted to win. But upon checking the posted results, I learned that I wasn't the first Master's Runner. The honor actually went to the guy that finished 2nd to Mike.
Here's the strange part. When they called out the awards, they gave him 2nd overall. Then, they called the Master's Awards which they gave to me. And, they gave me the RRCA of Master's Championship. No mention of the fact, that he broke the Master's course record or that he should have been the RRCA 10 mile champion. Personally, I feel kind of bad for accepting the RRCA award that I didn't earn.
Race directors break down the awards as they deem necessary. This is something that I cannot control. I know because there has been more than once that I have walked away on the short end of the situation. Shortly after the race, I was talking to Mike about coming back next year. I want to take the title without an "*" after my name.
After the awards, we all dropped back by the hotel before heading back to Charlotte. I have to say, it was great car pooling with Ben and Megan. After the race while Ben drove, I found myself a nice comfortable spot in the back seat and took a nap. An hour or so later, I woke feeling pretty good and ready for a snack. So any time that Ben wants to drive me to a race, I am all for it.
Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner