Training Widget

Saturday, April 4, 2009

2009 Charlottesville 10 Miler

April 4, 2009

Race Day.

The rains were gone and the skies clear for the 34th running of the Charlottesville Ten Miler.

I positioned myself about 10 people deep in the pack at the starting line. I intentionally wanted to get held up by the hordes so I would be forced to run slow the first mile. Last year the strategy worked great for me when I went out in 7:50 for the first mile, then picked up the pace to the point of averaging 6:50's for race. So I held back at the beginning and settled into a spot for the first 300 m or so as we climbed the starting hill and turned the corner onto Alderman. Once I got on Alderman, began to weave in and out of the groups of runners ahead of me, not really trying to pass anyone, just trying to find space to run without having to break stride. I missed the split at the first half mile, but I assumed I was running somewhere around 7:30 pace.

I kept up the weave until I reached St. Thomas Aquinas church, where I should say their band was rocking it out, moved to the outside, and let the downhill carry me past about 20 runners. I then settled back into pace as I approached the mile mark. When I could finally see the clock, was shocked to see I was well under 7 minutes. Uh-oh - that could be too fast. I crossed the mile in 6:57, over 30 seconds faster than I had anticipated.

Well, nothing to do about it now but stick with the plan for the second mile and hope that I could hang on at the end. Around the stadium and up past the parking garage I continued to pass runners and focused on running a consistent pace. Mile 2 came and went in 6:40 - faster than planned, but comfortable and controlled. Mile 3 was about the same, more runners coming back to me and at my preferred pace, 6:43. I had expected to get to mile 3 in ~21:40 like last year, but with my faster first two miles, I was only 20:20 into the race.

The fourth mile starts up a slight grade on Rugby Ave, then turns downhill on Grady and Preston. This is always the fastest mile, if you are careful at the start, and this year was no exception. I continued to catch runners and move past them down the long hill. At one point, I noticed a female runner about 15 yards ahead of me whose legs were really flailing out to the side. The running coach in me started thinking she could be really fast if her stride was more controlled and she didn't waste all that energy bringing her legs back. I followed her for probably a minute before it dawned on me...hey dummy, if her stride is so bad, why is she in front of you? :) That was enough motivation to put on a burst to get past her and finish the 4th mile in 6:24.

The fifth mile is where things start to get interesting. Once you get to the bottom of Preston, you have to climb back up the downtown mall, turn up 5th street to get to the mile mark (6:27), then take on the roller coaster of a hill on 2nd street, before finally tackling the hill on Northwood. The best part of that climb is the music - just about every year I'm treated to the Rocky Theme song, what better to get you pumped back up on the climb. I think I ran a bit too hard on the 5th mile because I started to get side stitch when I turned onto Jefferson just before 2nd street. I probably slowed down too much trying to get my breathing back under control and after passing the annual doughnut station, reaching mile 6 in 6:56.

In my pre-race planning, I thought if I got to 6 miles in 41:40 I would be in good shape for beating last years time. Today at six miles my time was 40:08. Four miles to go and a minute and a half ahead.

For the next mile, I just focused on getting up the hills on Lexington and Maple. I really can't say if I passed anyone or if I got passed in that mile. I think this is the second hardest section of the course and really just wanted to get to the top. The last quarter mile takes you back down to the downtown mall and out onto Water street which is a nice reward for reaching the top of Cemetery Hill on Maple St. At the 7 mile mark, (6:55 - 47:03) I started feeling the relief of knowing it was less than a 5k remaining.

The long straight straight stretch up to mile 8 was uneventful and by that point, I was running with a group. One person would challenge for the lead, and the rest would counter. Someone else would take the lead and everyone else would counter. This continued to the mile mark (6:58 - 54:02) and on to the Corner.

From mile 8 to 9 is by far the toughest part of the race. You have a long hill up around the Corner, then you turn and have to run back up McCormack. Add in that you are starting to run out of energy, and it makes for a slow mile. This year, surprisingly, wasn't as slow as some years past. I wasn't able to keep the pace under 7, but 7:11 was respectable, but the slowdown meant that I was going to have to work the last mile if I was going to break 68 minutes. At nine miles, my time had slipped to 61:13!

Knowing I needed a 6:43 for the last mile, I decided to push the downhills and shorten up my stride on the hills to maintain my leg turnover. I was really running out of gas, and I didn't think I was going to hold on. But once I crossed the bridge over the final railroad tracks, I got passed by two people. I was back in high school - no one out kicks me :) I immediately went back past those two runners and tracked down a few more finishers. Time on the clock - 67:49! I had broken 68.

The only thing left was to see if I had cracked the top 100 - a secret desire I had going into the race. I went over to the scoring table to check the posted results. That's the great thing about chip timing - instant race results. There I was on the third page - #77 with an official time of 1:07:49 and chip time of 1:07:41! I'm still not sure how many runners finally finished, but I do know there were 2607 entries.

Overall, I'm really pleased and looking forward to next year. With another year of the streak under me, I hope to run even faster.

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