Thanks for stopping my by 10 Mile race recap!
If you’re new to the fun over here at Running My Best Life, I’m currently training for the Salt Lake City Half Marathon. My goal is to finish the Salt Lake Half in 2:10:00 or less.
I’ve been documenting my 12-week half marathon training plan all the way from the beginning to give my honest thoughts on what it’s like to go through a training plan. Because let’s be honest: sometimes we feel like rock stars while we’re training, and sometimes we feel like complete poop.
We (runners) are great about documenting and posting on social media about the times when we feel like rock stars, but we don’t want anyone to know when we feel like poop. Because honestly, who would want to run a half marathon if they knew it would make them feel exhausted?
I didn’t have too many expectations for this race.
Just one: run a 9:55 pace.
I treated this 10 Mile Race like a dress rehearsal for the Salt Lake Half Marathon.
Here’s the quick-and-dirty math I did on race morning:
2:10:00 for a half marathon is a 9:55 pace.
9:55 pace for 10 miles is 1:39:10.
So my goal was 1:39:10, even though I’ve never done a 10 Mile Race before.
I didn’t really know what a good time was, I just knew that if I could hit my goal pace for 10 miles, then I should definitely be able to do it for the half marathon in 3 weeks with a proper taper. Speaking of proper tapers, I didn’t do a taper before this race. I just got an extra rest day. Usually I would cut my mileage earlier in the week, but in the first part of this training week I still was building mileage as I would from previous weeks.
When I woke up on race morning, I wasn’t feeling as awesome and rested as I normally do before a race. Thus, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I asked my body to perform consistently at my goal pace.
Race Morning Routine
My race morning routine is fairly practiced and refined at this point, as I’ve run a number of 5k’s, 10k’s, and one other half marathon.
I get up, go about my normal morning routine, and eat my favorite “Morning Run/Race Day Breakfast.”
It’s the same thing whether I have a Saturday morning long run or a race: Oatmeal, peanut butter, Nutella, and a sliced banana.
The peanut butter and Nutella makes it taste like the goodness of a delicious no-bake cookie, and the banana mixes in for some extra deliciousness and fuel-good carbs.
Arriving at the Race
If the parking is in the same area as the starting line, I usually try to arrive an hour before the race start.
From here, I make an immediate trip to the bathroom to make sure I have time to clear my bladder and bowels before the lines get too long.
After that, I make sure I know where the starting line is.
Then, I either kill some time somewhere warm, or I start jogging around and doing stretches to warm up.
Then…it’s starting time!
Start through 4 miles
Ok, so right before the start, the guy with the megaphone said “Think about flat places” and then fired his gun and sent us on our way. That made me do a double take as I realized I knew nothing about what to expect on this course. I just knew it would be 10 miles.
Was he joking? Shit…is this course supposed to be really hilly?
As soon as we turned out of the parking lot, we headed straight up a long hill. It made my legs start burning as I did my best to just maintain a consistent effort that I thought was around my goal pace. The entire first half mile was uphill. Then my app gave my the update I needed: my split pace was 9:57.
Perfect, right on target…
After that, we started sloping downhill. I didn’t realize at the time how much we were actually going downhill, I just knew that my split times were rocking, and I felt like I was still running super easy. I took a Honey Stinger gel and some of the sports drink I was carrying at 3.5 miles, and kept cruising right along.
At 4 miles, I was averaging 9:15 per mile. “Perfect,” I thought…. “I already have a few extra minutes banked in case we get into some more nasty hills like the one at the beginning. Maybe I’ll even beat my goal!”
“Man,” I thought, “I’m in great shape and this feels easy!”
Mile 4 through mile 8
Ha. Haha! So silly I was…
It’s a good thing I had some extra time banked from the first part of the race when the going was easy, because after mile 4, it started to get really FREAKING HARD.
We went up a few hills and I held my pace. Yeah! Mental toughness! I rock!
And then…it seemed like every time I finally got to the top of the hill and was hoping for some downhill or even flat relief, I turned the corner and faced another hill. I have no idea how many hills there were on this wretched course, because I was hoping the top of each would be the last.
How foolish of me to think that…
I ended up walking up A LOT of these hills. Or I would jog for a while just to keep moving forward and then speed walk a bit to give my legs a break, and then start jogging again. I can’t believe how much I walked. So many hills… And somehow, my average pace was still around 10 minutes per mile. (Remember: my goal pace was 9:55)
Starting around mile 5 or 6, I ended up playing leap frog with an older gentleman. We started some friendly banter back and forth about how awesome the hills were, whether or not they planned the ENTIRE race uphill, how if we could make it up these hills, we could do anything, and how the top of THIS hill was going to be the top (we said that last one no less than 4 times).
Apparently, my husband actually got a picture of me around the 6.5 mile point where we crossed back by the starting area one street over before we continued onto the south loop. Either he makes a great paparazzi, or I was too busy dying to notice…
After another Honey Stinger gel at 7 miles, I made an effort to drink more sports drink.
Man, did my legs NEED those carbs. I probably could’ve even had a third gel if I knew how much those hills were going to burn up my legs. My fueling strategy calls for a gel at 3.5 miles and 7 miles. For runs longer than 10, I would take another gel at 10 miles.
The good news is that my stomach didn’t seem to have any issues tolerating the gel, even at my race pace. This was the first time I’ve taken a gel at faster than an easy pace, and my stomach tends to get wayyy more touchy the faster I run.
Around 7.5 miles, I was really hoping that the downhill stretch would start soon. I was also starting to come to terms that I might not easily make my goal time as I had thought I would around mile 4. The hills were eating my time margin and then some.
Miles 8 through the Finish
That’s the feeling I got when the repetitive uphill climbs FINALLY turned into some awesome downhills, and I was able to let gravity do some work to help me for once.
I kicked it down, and didn’t look back. There was one more slight uphill around 9.5 miles, but I didn’t care. My legs were already pretty numb so I just kept churning them over again and again.
I knew I was close to my goal, and I REALLY wanted to make it. It was time to make up for all the walking I did on the hills!
I saw the clock approaching my goal time and as I neared it, I broke into an all out sprint. As I crossed the timing mats and passed the clock, it said 1:39:09.
My chip time was 1:39:03 for an average 9:54 pace!
Boom. Drop the mike.
If I can hit that pace with all the damn hills and walking, I know I can DEFINITELY hit it for the Salt Lake Half Marathon.
Sorry…this was a super long 10 mile race recap. But I wanted to take you through my thought process during the race, because it really was a roller coaster.
Those hills were truly brutal but conquering them definitely boosted my confidence. They didn’t ruin my race day! When I finished right under my goal time, it was the proof I needed to skyrocket my confidence for my upcoming half marathon.
After I’ve felt excessively exhausted in several of my training weeks, I wasn’t sure that I would be able to hold the pace I need to hit my goal. Now, I know that being tired during training is part of the process, and I’m pushing my fitness beyond my body’s known limits.
What is your favorite race distance?
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About Me: I’m Alexis, Founder of RunningMyBestLife! I am an avid recreational runner, half marathoner, wife, dog mom, busy professional, downhill skier in Northern Utah. My mission is to help new enthusiasts fall in love with the sport of running. I believe that running is a catalyst to taking control of your life and living your best life by design. Learn More –>