Last Sunday I ran my third 10K, the Charlottesville Fall Classic 10K. Although I PRed two weeks earlier at the Perfect 10 10K, I was still hopeful that I would run this race just as fast, if not faster. There was one obstacle in my way though: the hills on the course.
I will always remember this race for this hills. Preston and I were warned in advance by a fellow member of Team Red, White, and Blue as to how hilly this course is, but I didn’t believe her when she first told us. I should have though, because she was definitely correct!
This was my second out of town race (the first one was the Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Mini Marathon), so it took quite a bit of preparation before we left for Charlottesville Saturday afternoon. Packing for two nights out of town doesn’t usually take much time, but I was reminded last weekend that when your time away includes a race that you’ll wind up packing double or triple what you’d normally need for a typical weekend out of town. This is especially important to remember for January, since we’ll be traveling to Orlando for six nights, I’ll be running two races, and Preston will be running four. Because we’re taking an evening flight after a full day at work for both of us, it’ll be imperative that we start the planning and packing process several days ahead of time for Disney.
The race started and finished on the Historic Downtown Charlottesville Mall. Our hotel was about 15 minutes from the start and finish line for the race, which was very convenient, especially when compared to how long it took us to get to the start line in Virginia Beach. I made our race morning breakfast at home before we left for Charlottesville – a peanut butter sandwich and banana for each of us. This was the first time I made our race morning breakfasts in advance, and I think this will be especially important to remember to do from now on.
We arrived at the race site about 45 minutes before the start of the half marathon, which started 30 minutes ahead of the 10K. Preston opted to run the half, and arriving 45 minutes early wound up making him a bit rushed. Packet pickup for this race was only available the morning of, as opposed to the day before, which has been the option (if not required) for most of the other races that we’ve run. This made us feel very rushed, especially since we had to run our shirts back to the car about three blocks away. We returned to the start line only a couple of minutes before the start of the half marathon.
At 7:00 am, I wished Preston good luck and off he was running his second half marathon. Thirty minutes later the 10K started.
Within the first tenth of a mile, I encountered my first hill, which made me realize just how hilly this race was going to be. Despite the initial hills, I successfully ran the first mile in less than ten minutes, and started my run-walk pattern about 12 minutes into the race. After my success at the Perfect 10 10K, I had wanted to maintain a 4:1 run-walk ratio throughout this race. I felt really good for the first half of the race, and quite enjoyed the fact that this course took us through not only neighborhoods, but also a local park where we ran along a river for about a mile. Although it was drizzling, it was a very scenic, picturesque, and enjoyable route that we ran along.
At about 3.5 miles I experienced my first “trail” during a race. The course took us across a football field, and because of all the rain it was quite muddy. I was extra cautious to dodge mud holes, and thankfully, my extra caution paid off.
Just as we made it back onto pavement around mile 4, I encountered what I now call the “holy crap hill” of this race. All I thought to myself as I came up on this hill was “holy crap, they want me to run up this thing?” This hill took us up what I swear was a 45 degree angle incline, and although I had successfully maintained a sub 11:00 min pace up to this point of the race, the hill got the best of me, and I had to walk up it. Up to this point of the race, I thought that I might PR again, and that I’d have an even faster finish time to send to runDisney for corral placement for January. This hill eliminated that possibility though.
Once I finally made it up the hill, and the series of smaller hills that followed, my legs were burning. I tried my best to push through, and had to pull back to a 3:1 run-walk ratio. I honestly believe that if it hadn’t been for the kind and supportive police officers who were present at nearly every intersection during the last mile of the course that I wouldn’t have been able to mentally make it through the rest of the race without convincing myself of the need to walk the rest.
Somehow, I made it across the finish line at 1:12:19, about two minutes slower than my current 10K PR. My goal had been to run this race at my PR pace, which is 11:19 min/mile. I ran this race at an 11:40 pace. Because of all the hills, I’m actually quite proud of the fact that I ran it as fast as I did.
After I finished, I waited for Preston to finish his half marathon. Preston’s goal had been to run his half in less than two hours, which we were able to celebrate since he completed the half in 1:58:52, which is his current half marathon PR!
Despite the hilly course, I definitely want to run this race again, mainly to see how well I am able to conquer the hills after more time running. For how small of a race it was, it was very well organized. There was plenty of water and Gatorade at all of the water stations, and they handed out GU Energy Gels at mile 5.
Like all my other outdoor runs, I also ran this race for charity with Charity Miles. Since there wasn’t a charity tied to this race, I once again ran for the primary beneficiary of the Disney World Half Marathon, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
And since we were in Charlottesville, there was only one way that we could think was most appropriate to celebrate our races – wine tasting in Virginia Wine Country!
QOTD: How do you keep yourself mentally capable of conquering hilly courses?