Race: City of Oaks/Old Reliable 10K
City: Raleigh, NC Date: 11/6/2011
Distance: 10k/6.2 mi
Weather: Sunny, but chilly at start (upper 30s), warmed up to mid-50s
Course: rolling hills through downtown Raleigh, a usual route for me!
Summary: A new race with a new (old) name. A new 10k PR. a new (tougher) course. A very nice experience! and… update… 2nd in Age Group – holy cow!
I loved this race last year. Not just because I got my 10k PR – though, that’s a good enough reason – but the course was nice. It was familiar. It took me down Hillsborough street, through parts of Cameron Village and back. And… it was a pretty small race, relatively speaking (all of the 10k races I’ve done so far were pretty small) and I loved that. Now, of course, having the chaos of the Las Vegas Rock and Roll Half Marathon behind me, the smaller races are even more enticing… it just felt intimate. I also noticed that most 10k races are pretty much the runner crowds – not so much the folks who are doing their first ever 5k or the people who – on a dare – decided to do a half marathon. These are the folks that are into running. They all have Garmins. They all wear compression socks and know how to wear a mylar blanket.
I love this crowd.
I also loved this race because it was one of the few afternoon races on my agenda. Most of the other races were stinkin’ early in the morning or stinkin’ late at night (that’s right, Disney Wine and Dine – I’m looking at you). This race started at 2 pm – enough time to get up, stretch, eat a little, enjoy my coffee… relax, hydrate and get to the race on time without feeling rushed. It was on a Sunday afternoon in November, so the weather is usually good. Kind of like a leisurely Sunday stroll.
I love leisurely Sunday strolls.
I looked forward to doing this race since I finished the Capital City Classic 10k in May. When I finished that race, I was pretty sure I had a PR until I realized my PR was actually from the 2010 Old Reliable. Sigh. So… I felt like I had to make up for flubbing the PR by earning a new one. So, you can imagine my surprise (and mild disappointment) when I discovered that, this year, for some reason, organizers decided to combine this 10k with the City of Oaks Marathon and Half Marathon and start all 3 races at 7 am.
The cynic in me immediately thought the worst: that’s. gonna. be. a. mess.
Where is everybody going to park? And, really, City of Oaks is one of the bigger Half and Full Marathon events in Raleigh – adding a 10k (among other events) is flat out crazy. Some rogue RD decided to create another 10k the following weekend with the old route from the 2010 Old Reliable that started at 2 – and I was intrigued – but let’s be honest about a couple of things:
I was curious how this was going to work.
The City of Oaks/Old Reliable 2011 race really worked better with my schedule.
If it was a mess, I’d never, ever do it again.
My first experience was packet pickup – they had an Expo in the McKimmon Center and it was well organized. Each race had it’s own table and they hand you the bib – you go over to the table where they register the chip in your bib, and then you go into the expo to collect your shirt and look at the booths. It was pretty small, but I’ll be honest, it was clean and nice. I got my shirt, walked around a bit, took a free chapstick (always need it when I out there) and went back to my car. Struck up a conversation with a fellow doing his first half, wished him luck and went back home to rest and start carb loading.
Yes, the start line was in front of the NCSU bell tower – but… the part I didn’t really pick up on when I registered for the race was the more than ample parking at the Cameron Village shopping center, just a little over a block away. duh. There was more than enough parking when I arrived at 6:30 am. I was pumped. I had been up a little over an hour and I already had my coffee and my GF Oats and I was ready to run. I parked, went to the bathroom, and queued up. It was cold, but I was so excited about the race for some reason, I didn’t really care.
As I lined up, though, I was impressed with the number of people in this race. I honestly don’t remember lining up in corrals or having waved starts – I just remember starting – and passing.
As a (proud) graduate of NCSU, I did like the fact that the route started at the NCSU belltower, went alongside the campus down what I’m now going to call Mount Ashe (Ashe Ave). What goes up must also again go down… and roll along via Western Boulevard (the scene of the disastrous 2010 Capital City Classic), back up Boylan Avenue (before we get to the nastier, hillier part of it), around downtown (where I run about 2-3 times a week) and back to Glenwood up to Peace (mercifully past the WORST of the hills, but still pretty hilly) just to end on a hill on Clark Avenue… In Cameron Village – hey, how convenient!
However… since the disaster that was the 2010 Tarheel 10-miler/Fleet Feet 4-miler (were I still don’t know what happened, but I think I missed a split off), I’ve been worried to pieces about missing a split off with multiple distances starting in a single race. Truthfully, I absolutely LOVED how they split this one off – they actually had all 3 races doing the first 10k together. The 10k folks split to finish and then, shortly after the 10 mile marker, the Half folks did a turn around while the full folks continued on to Umstead and ran a loop back inside the park. Brilliant design in my humble opinion.
I did listen to music during this race. I was actually in kind of a foul mood the day before, and coming out of my funk this particular day, so I wanted music this run. Because of the music – and the runkeeper – I was able to hear my pace throughout the race. I was impressed when the first four miles averaged just at an 8mm pace!! Mile 5 – up Glenwood Avenue – slowed me down to a little over 8:15 and the last mile did me in at a little over that, but I still ended up with an overall pace of 8:14.
At the time I finished, I couldn’t tell if I had broken my PR or not. I went to my car, changed my clothes and then waited at the finish line for the Half Marathoners to finish (I had 2 friends running it). I didn’t see one of my friends (because she’s much faster than I thought!) but while I was waiting for my other friend to finish, I saw the full marathon winner finish in about 2:08 and some change. That was the first time I’ve ever seen a full marathoner elite finish and I must say, I was pretty impressed. I got caught up in cheering for him and congratulating him after the race. It was a great experience for me.
I wasn’t trying for a PR, but I got one on a much tougher course than I expected. Funny how that always seems to happen to me when I say to myself “nah… I’m not even *trying* for a PR today”. haha.
Sometimes, big races – when run well – can be a very pleasant experience. I had a great experience at this race – many, many thanks to the city of Raleigh, NCSU, all the volunteers and the spectators that came out to cheer everyone on. It was very nice for me, and I hope to do it again next year!