Race: Midtown Race Series/CapTrust 10K
City: Raleigh, NC Date: 6/3/2012
Distance: 10k/6.2 mi
Weather: Sunny, started off cool, but got hot and humid quickly
Course: hilly, and now I have a new hill to hate: Lassiter Mill (should be Hill) road. Hate that hill.
Summary: Really tough course, but I really liked the race
This was the first year I’ve done this race. In fact, I had not even heard of it until a few running buddies and I decided to meet on the Raleigh greenway for a long run in preparation for my OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon. We saw signs for it along the greenway: there were three races: a 5k, a 10k and a Half Marathon, all along the greenway. We gawked about the date (June 3 – that’s *hot* here – who schedules a half for June 3rd?) and how the logistics might work for that many people on the greenway (I mean… it is pretty narrow).
But… I was eager for a 10k so I announced that I would be registering for the 10k. The only 10k Races in Raleigh that I have the opportunity to do are the Capital City Classic and the City of Oaks/Old Reliable. There is usually a couple in Cary in April and early May, but they usually conflict with Capital City, which is becoming my favorite race in the area. I had a goal of doing longer races this year (still no 5ks yet this year) and I thought, in spite of the assumed heat, I would register for it. Two in my group – who had never done a half before – decided they wanted to register for the half and we made a pact to do it.
As time went on, one of the half marathoners couldn’t participate in the race due to health issues, so the other guy – who had not yet registered – decided to run in his place. I helped him prepare for the race – I gave him advice and I helped schedule runs through downtown Raleigh to help him prepare. The hills were pretty similar to the greenway hills we encountered on the other runs, so I thought it was adequate training for him.
Like the Capital City Classic, which I had just done 3 weeks before, I was under no illusion of a PR – or anything close to it. The gluten was really settling into my system at this point, and I was feeling pretty sluggish. None of my runs since my half were under a 9 minute mile, most were over 9:30; so, at best, I was looking at 54:00, and I thought that was pretty aggressive. I had to accept that I was doing it for the experience, and nothing more. Still… part of me always hopes that I surprise myself.
It was not to be this day.
The race started and ended at North Hills. I’ve grown up in this area, and it used to be that North Hills was a dumpy mall surrounded by a really nice neighborhood on one side and a more eclectic, artsy neighborhood on the other. About 10 years ago, though, some developers came in and turned it into a really nice place – making it more of an outdoor mall and putting higher-end stores in it (though, JC Penny and Target are the anchor stores) and around it. They built condos, a five star hotel, a slew of higher-end restaurants, and planned all kinds of weekly activities including a Saturday farmer’s market, a Thursday concert series, and a summer art workshop series. It has turned into a pretty nice place worthy of the neighborhoods it is between. Recently, the city of Raleigh extended the greenway, opening up and connecting a whole bunch of trails, making this place a centralized area for a number of people. Add to it that REI is another huge anchor presence in this mall and viola! You have yourself a perfect recipe for a pretty awesome (and heavily sponsored) race.
I had never really taken the time to walk through North Hills since they finished the last of the upgrades a few years ago. The day before the race – a Saturday – I decided to carve out some time to walk around and look at the mall while picking up my packet. I stopped for a pre-race lunch at Moe’s. I walked around the 2-story REI (which, I must say, is impressive). I looked at all the stores that were in the shopping center, including a store offering cooking classes to kids… hmmmm… Not how I would spend my money, but it looks like a nice place. I finished by going to my favorite of all stores: Target. Apparently, I cannot be within a few hundred feet of the bulls eye beacon before it beckons me to part with some cash. You know. For the good of the economy and all that. (sigh).
My shopping finished for the day, I headed back home to rest and eat before my race.
I didn’t sleep well the night before – I hadn’t been sleeping well for a couple of weeks – but it was catching up to me at this point. Maybe it was the gluten. maybe it was work. I don’t know. I just woke up exhausted after a full (more than 8 hours) night of “sleep”. So unfair. I also had zero appetite, just like the Capital City Classic a few weeks before. I tried to eat – I did – but each bite felt like I was going to throw up and I didn’t want that (stupid race day anxiety – you’d think this was my career rather than something I do for “fun”). I did need coffee, though, and although I knew it was going to be hot eventually, I figured I could get some coffee in my system and still be OK for the race. (I was). I heeded the warning from the race directors: get there early! Parking will be crazy! It wasn’t, but having been burned by that at the Tarheel 10 Miler this year and starting late, I didn’t want that to happen again, so I got there early.
And, I waited.
My running buddy that was doing the half is the same guy that did the Tarheel 10 miler and my first recruit for the Capital City Classic 10k. Yeah, the guy that wears glow-in-the-dark yellow at almost every race. He was, therefore, fairly easy to find. We discovered – at packet pick up (because we had not been back to the website since we registered for the race) that the half marathon started 15 minutes before the 5k and 10k races started. That was OK by me. The Hilton Head Half had a very similar structure: three races, all starting at once, and the shorter races turn off early. The key difference, though, is that the vast majority of the Hilton Head race was *not* on the narrow greenway – it was on a couple of highways. Portions of it at the start and after the 10k turn off were on the greenway – which was actually wider than this one, so it wasn’t that bad. Plus, overall, that race was much smaller. This race, on the other hand, was the opposite. I thought it was a good idea to give the half marathon folks a good 1.5 mile start on the rest of us.
My friend was excited and nervous and we distracted ourselves by spending the time before his start talking about some of the, uh, running outfits of a particular group with very little modesty (one guy had to strategically place his bib just in case of a malfunction – I’m a fan of the male body, but, fellas, please, leave a *little* to the imagination). When his group was called, I wished him luck and watched him take off. 15 minutes until I could go.
I had not run all the week leading up to this race. In fact, I had not been successful with getting more than one to two runs a week for the entire month of May. Work was getting out of hand and it was tougher and tougher to make the time, even on the weekends. Add to that my broken treadmill and my boys’ reluctance to going to the gym child center and I was stuck with out much run time and it made me anxious. More than a PR, I was mostly looking forward to just getting a run in that day. I was guaranteed 6.2 miles of blissful running and finally getting some sanity – even for a few hours. I failed at my 90-mile goal for May, so I had renewed hope for June (didn’t quite make 90 for June, either, but that’s a different post).
They called the 10/5k group and we lined up. While this race wasn’t nearly as small as the Capital City Classic, it was still a pretty small crowd and I loved that only half (if that) of the people around me were actually running my race. Or so, I thought.
The gun fired and we were off. First, we went *down* Lassiter Mill road (I keep typing “Lassiter Hill” because that’s what I call it now). I found a magnet and I stuck to him for the first four miles. He pulled me in at a sub-8 pace for the first two, but I couldn’t hang with that much beyond those two miles. Regardless, though, I was able to keep a visual on him for the entire four miles, and then I caught up with him after 5. Didn’t hurt that he was mighty easy on the eyes, too. But… I could feel it getting hot. It was already pretty humid and I was drinking a lot already. I was almost halfway finished with my drink before I got to the 5k turn around.
The way they had the course constructed, all runners had to stay to the right. They had volunteers guiding you through the turn arounds – the first for the 5k, then mine, then the half (which I never saw). I’m not sure if we were just faster than most of the 5k group, if the elites skipped the 5k or if I was so hyper focused on my magnet that I didn’t notice, but I don’t remember seeing any of the 5k at that turn around. Almost everyone kept going so my crowd didn’t thin out as much as I had hoped it would. Add to that the fact that we were beginning to encounter some of the half-marathon walkers and slower Gallowayers, and we seemed to net-add folks, rather than remove. Although he was pulling ahead of me, I still had a visual on my magnet until we had our turnaround.
Remember how I said I was drinking a lot? Remember from some of my other posts what happens to me when I do that (ahem, Disney Wine and Dine…) Sigh. I should be glad that I was at least well hydrated, because if I wasn’t, I would have bigger problems (ahem, Rock and Roll Virgina Beach). Nevertheless, it is irritating to have to stop. I lasted until just after mile 4 and I couldn’t take it any longer. I had to make a pit stop. This is when I separated from my magnet.
Once I finished, I was determined to find my magnet again. I hauled ass until I got to a point where I *thought* I saw him, and then he rounded a corner. It wasn’t him. Dang. Ok, I have more hauling to do. So I did. A little too much, it turns out, because I was starting to burn out. I slowed a little and looked up… and there was Lassiter Hill. Good Lord! It looked waaaayyyy longer – and steeper – than it seemed coming down it just 4 miles ago.
I did see my magnet as he turned up Lassiter Hill, several meters in front of me – easily maybe even a quarter of a mile or more. I could tell he was slowing down because I was able to finally recognize him (not just his shirt – he was running behind a few other guys with similar build wearing a similar shirt and had caught up to them). I was determined, though, to catch up to him (amazing…. the power of an attractive man) and I pushed through to the first part of the hill. Lordy. It was much tougher than I thought it was going to be and, remembering the humbling experience of having to walk up Larel Hill at the Tarheel 10-miler earlier this year, I decided it might just be best to let go of my magnet and focus on getting up this hill.
Here is where I usually get into trouble. There were two women who appeared to be a little younger than me that I had traded leads with since my pit stop. But… on the off chance either of them are in my age group, I couldn’t really let either one of them finish before me. One was a Gallowayer that was running sub-8:30s on her run intervals; the other was a pretty even pacer that would slightly slow on the up hills and slightly speed on the down hills, but on flats, ran the same pace as me. We all three got to the nastiest part of the hill at the same time. Galloway girl was at her interval for walking, so she did. Personally, I was struggling, though, and I looked over at even pace girl as I passed her and she was struggling, too. She started walking too. I was hurting and I thought that it was too damn hot to be a hero, so I walked too. Just then, Galloway girl passed me doing 8:30-ish. Damnit. I couldn’t let a Gallowayer beat me. So, I started running again. Even pace saw me run – probably had the same thought I did about Galloway – and started running again, too. About .25 mile later, we all had to walk again. About 100 meters later, we all started running. We did this one more time before we got to the finish line (that hill was about a mile, I think). I had nothing left in the tank to gun it, and, considering there was a curb there, I didn’t want to wipe out, so I kept it even keel to the finish. I ended up with a slightly disappointing 54:51.
I found my magnet and thanked him for leading me through (even better looking in the face) and he thanked me for the same (awww. I didn’t even think he noticed I was there since I was behind him the whole time). I then found my Half Marathon friend’s wife and daughter and waited with them for him to finish. He did not make his goal, but he finished strong and I’m very proud of him.
If you have read this blog for any measure of time you know that I have a love-hate relationship with hills. I hate that I love that they make me a better runner. I hate that I get my behind handed to me by them and I love overcoming that the next race… and hate not being satisfied by loving that one win – I have to repeat it. So… I guess what I’m saying is that I plan to beat Lassiter Hill next year.