Saturday, April 9, 2011

Tar Heel 10 Miler Race Recap

10 Miles at 6:10 for a Tempo

~3 miles warmup
10 miles at 6:05 for a Race in 1:00:52
~1 mile cool down for 14 miles total

A couple weeks ago, I noticed that I had a 60 minute tempo on tap during the same week as the NC USATF 10 Mile Championship in Chapel Hill, NC.  After clearance from Mark Hadley, I was ready to run this race in hopes to get a good effort in and to win some cash (1st - $400, 2nd - $200, 3rd - $100). 

In order to give myself a later wake up call, I spent the night at the guest quarters of Joel Tull, owner of The Human Touch massage.   Of course, I got a wonderful massage as well to prepare for the race.  At 5am, I woke up and drove to Chapel Hill, making it to the designated parking spot at 620am...70 minutes prior to the start of the race.

Unfortunately for me, I do not know the UNC campus well and set off in what I thought was the direction of the football stadium.  Boy was I wrong.  I headed in the opposite direction, ended up in a nice neighborhood that edged the campus.  To make matter worse, I had to use the rest room.  Eventually, I made my way to woods, where I found a folded twenty dollar bill.  I decided after that the the odds were in my favor.  I was going to win today because I found $20.  

I finally found the stadium, picked up my bib, skipped the long line to get the t-shirts (have enough as it is) and ran the mile back to my car to take off my sweats.  By the time I made it back to the start, I had 10 minutes for drills.  I noticed a woman that I knew was my former Wake teammate's (Brian Smith) wife.  I couldn't remember her name though because she went to Wisconsin and I only met her once.  She came up to me though and asked if I was Caitlin and I found out her name was Lindsey.  Then we both figured out we were shooting for the same time. We ended up working together the entire race, and she pushed me enough so that I ran faster than my goal time.

The gun went off and I settled into a relaxed clip slightly behind Lindsey because she took off pretty fast in the first 200m.  I think she eventually noticed that I wasn't near her because she slowed down to run alongside me.  We exchanged some short stories with each other in those first five miles.  We also saw Brian at numerous spots throughout the course, along with her friend Heidi, who was also pushing Lindsey's baby Hudson in a stroller.  Other than that, the cheering was pretty sparse throughout.

For the first 8 miles, the course was rolling, and with each uphill, there was a nice downhill to follow.  I actually think it is a very fast course for those first 8 miles.  The last two miles are tough because of the steep uphill, however.  Lindsey's company helped make the race go by faster and helped keep me focus.  It also gave me a buddy to run with because the number of men around us was slim.

Around mile 6, we converged with the 4 miler racers.  We had to weave in and out of them for miles 6-7 and then it eventually thinned out.  It was definitely a huge pain to dodge walkers and runners alike.  At one point we didn't even know if we were on the right course and Lindsey yelled to a ten year old who was directing us and he pointed his flag in the direction of where the masses of 4 milers were.  We weren't sure if we should trust this young kid, but eventually we passed the 7 mile marker, so I guess he actually knew what he was doing.

Going into 7.75 miles, I used the momentum coming off of a decent downhill to pick it up, and I gapped Lindsey by a little bit (I ran a 5:42 this mile).  Little did I know that shortly after mile 8, a huge hill on Laurel Road would be ahead.  I passed over a mat and then a steep, one mile hill presented itself to me.  At this point, I could barely lift my legs and I kept waiting for Lindsey to come blowing past me.  I contemplated dropping out, but not because I wasn't in the race mentally, but because I really don't think my legs could keep moving. Unlike the Houston Half, where I wanted to drop out because I mentally was not in the race, at the Tar Heel Ten Miler, I wanted to drop out because my body had hit the wall.  Yes, I hit the wall in a 10 miler.  I could barely lift them up enough to make the next step forward up the 1 mile hill on Laurel Road.  I wanted to walk, but I knew that $400 or $200 were at stake here.  I decided to run up that hill, even if it was at 7 min pace.

Brian even told me afterward that he thought I was done on Laurel Hill based on how I looked.  It was obviously ugly.

After I passed mile 9, the terrain leveled out a bit and I felt a huge sense of relief mixed with confidence pass over me and I found it within myself to keep pushing forward.  To my great dismay, however, there was another hill that was big enough to put my legs to their true test and I crumbled. 

At mile 9.25 Lindsey passed me, but only created a 4-5 meter lead on me.  There was a slight downhill as we were about to turn into the final 400m stretch to the final.  I found a second gear and pushed through the downhill to pass Lindsey for the second time.  I held on and hoped that I could hold her off through the final hill to the finish.  Somehow I was able to and closed the finish in 1:00:52.  Lindsey came through five seconds later. 

I've never been so happy for a finish line.  My legs were toast.  I could tell that I had not tapered at all for this race and that I had 80 miles under my belt.  I was upset with myself for running a slower pace on a hill at the 9th mile of a race than during the 22nd mile of my marathon in Twin Cities.  However, I competed really well with the way that my legs were feeling this day.   Now, I know that it will be very important to take a nice taper before the 25k Champs in May.  

Fortunately, I was still able to negative split during the second half of this race.  I went 30:32 during the first half and then 30:20 for the second half.

A huge perk for the race was the pancake bar from a local restaurant in Chapel Hill.  That was pretty cool!

1 - 607
2 - 608
3 - 608
4 - 608
5 - 601 (30:32)
6 - 600 (downhill)
7 - 550
8 - 542 (48:09) (downhill)
9 - 630 (54:39) (uphill)
10 - 613 (100:52) (uphill) (30:20 2nd half)


Stephen Spada said...

Nice one Caitlin!

Danielle said...

Yea Red! Cash and a pancake bar? Sounds awesome.

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