Last weekend was a busy one and it started with me being in Apex, NC for the American Tobacco Trail 10 miler on Saturday. This wasn't my first visit to the race. A couple of years ago, I ran it. That was in '10.
After having missed running the 50k, I felt like I needed something to test my "metal" going into OBX. This race was 2 weeks out and I thought "perfect". This would be an excellent test run and give me a good idea of where my running really is.
Megan and I drove over to the start – arriving about 7:50. From there, we picked up our timing chips. Back at the car, I went about changing for the race – socks, shoes, etc. Megan headed out for her warm up. The ATT 10 miler splits into 2 races: Men and Women. The women start at 8:50 while the men go off 10 minutes later at 9 AM.
Race conditions were not bad that morning. The temperature was a little warmer than I would have liked at 64 degrees but it was muggy – nearly 80%. I guess the only offsetting factor was the wind. There was a gusting wind.
8:50 came and I watched as Megan and Michelle H. headed off on their 10 miles. I did a few more strides as the 10 minutes passed and then settled in at the starting line.
The final countdown was uneventful as we headed off exactly 10 minutes after the women.
There were a few guys in the field from the Raleigh area that I had raced before. Seeing them gave me some idea of who I would be running around during the race.
The first ½ mile is on pavement and then we turn on to the trail. I am checking out the runners around me and trying to figure out who was going to be making a push and who was running over their head. Reading runners isn't easy and it usually takes about a mile to figure it out.
We pass by the first mile mark in 5:51. This mile is slight downhill so it makes sense. The next ¾ of mile continues on a slight downhill and we pass through it at 5:43. By this time, Paul Jones has established a nice lead on us and Brian and I are running together – maybe a 100 yards or so behind him.
The 3rd mile goes up hill and then the 4th mile goes a little downhill and then it flattens out. We make the turn and Brain, who has been running right behind me, makes a push and passes me.
His push is strong and the gap grows a little each mile coming back.
The course tends to be more uphill on the way back and especially the last 1 ¾ is uphill. Tim Pierce, who was close behind Brian and me at the turn, I expected to still be there. I didn't want to look back but I was listing for people to cheer as we passed and attempted to gauge the distance between us.
With the long uphill climb, I expected my legs to struggle and I was hoping it didn't come down to a final sprint.
Finally, I couldn't stand it anymore. With less than a ½ mile to go, I looked back. Tim wasn't insight. I could not believe it. I was expecting him to be close behind me. As much as it was a blessing to know that I wasn't going to be pushed to the finish line, it also took something away. Mentally, I realized that I didn't need to push to the finish. I let up and my 10 mile split ended up being the slowest mile of the race.
My breathing slowed down and I was walking around at the finish and overall I was very happy with the effort. I had run 59:38 and finished 3rd overall. Being that 98% of the course is on dirt – running under an hour is a great time for me.
The added perk of the day was winning the "Road Runner's Club of American's Masters 10 Mile" award. My year hadn't been the greatest running wise. I have felt like it has been a struggle at times. This race made me feel like I am on my way back to running well again.
Before wrapping up this post, I want to give a "shout out" to Mike Kelly. Mike won the RRCA Grand Masters award for this event. He and I were talking after the race and Mikes happens to be a reader of my blog. Mike, I appreciate you being a reader of my blog and congratulations on your RRCA Award achievement. You ran an awesome 10 mile race.
Sharing one thought at time,
The Cool Down Runner