Race Report: Dave’s 10-Miler – Delta, OH

Medal Acquired!

Race & Conditions

Never a better day to run in January

This is a few firsts for me. My first 10-mile (16km) race, first race report, and first race of 2017. Work wrapped up early Saturday and allowed me time to unwind before bed. I’m used to races starting early in the morning, so some part of me was eager to get to bed early to rack up some decent sleep before hand. But with this race starting in the afternoon, I found myself with some quality sleeping-in time.

Breakfast consisted of some mini cinnamon rolls and a Khaos Monster energy drink. Not exactly a finely tuned pre-race meal, but I’ve become comfortable to runs of this length. As a result, I didn’t feel particularly pushed to take it too seriously. Besides, some caffeine, slow and fast carbs seemed a fine enough start since I had a couple hours before the race.

With a 30 minute drive ahead of us, my other half and I headed out.

Considerations

My goal for this race was two straight-forward points: Finish under 90 minutes, and get the split right. I felt pretty confident of the first goal, so my real focus was on the split.

My personal condition for the race could have been better. Since my heavy work weekend of the 14th and 15th, I’ve been fighting a lot of sniffles, sneezes, and rebelling sinuses. In addition, I’ve been nursing what I suspect is a IT Band injury. I popped a couple asprin a bit before the race to help me complete if the pain flared up, but my leg felt fine Saturday and up to start time, so I planned to do the run right.

The weather was unreal. If I had awoke from a coma into this comfortable, snowless day and you told me I was in Northern Ohio in late January, I would not have believed it. I’m not sure the locals around the race could either as a sign around 1.5 miles in promised “Snow Ahead” pointing beyond the first overpass. Spoiler: There was no snow anywhere.

The Race

I felt good about this race. That said, I still nervously massage the outside of my right knee right till start, worried that the pain would flair up early and put me into a walk or worse. The Delta High School was open to us and by arriving an hour and 15 minute early, packet pick-up on site was painless. I’m particularly excited to have my first long-sleeved race shirt.

There were what seemed like a lot of last-minute registrants who decided the weather was too good to pass up. The High School gymnasium hosted the registration, packet pickup, and a small booth selling gloves, hats, and other cold weather gear odds and ends. I couldn’t help but feel a bit sorry for the guy working the booth. In years past I’m sure they made quite a lot in impulse purchases from folks who forgot gear or decided on a last-minute upgrade in single-digit weather.

Starting time

As start time neared, we followed the crowd outside and milled around for a bit watching the finally preparations of runners and event staff alike. With 3 minutes to start, I left her to find a place in the sidelines while I found a spot in the crowd behind the starting line.

The course map on the website had me a little confused as it had no arrows of flow and obviously required some looping and running back over passed territory. The entire course was asphalt paved country roads with little traffic. Opening announcements included directions to turn left or right at certain points. An older gentleman and I joked to each other that we’ll just follow the folks ahead of us, as if we are in the lead, we clearly took a wrong turn.

That said, as the race started off and we all channeled over the timing mats, things were very clearly marked. I’ve run with Dave’s Running events and running groups in the past, and they are really good at putting out clearly marked turn and mile markers. We took one loop around the High School area and then were off on the real race.

This race has hills. Why does it have hills?

After the first mile and the turn-around point for the 5k runners, we hit the first of the Turnpike overpasses we would cover. Where I typically run, there is very little in the way of noticeable hills, so when this came up, a few thoughts filtered through. I knew we’d finish where we started, so at least one more hill would be included. I worried about the impact of climbing the hill on my right knee. Finally, I remembered my pacing goal. I was coming on a bit too fast to be able to pick-up in the later half, so I chided myself and used the hill to slow my pace.

Everyone seemed to be in good spirits and a lot of runners were cruising at great speeds. I fought the urge to try and run with or ahead of many of them. I wanted to keep a near 9-minute pace early on and then lay into it after the 5-mail mark.

There were a few folks out in their yards as we all ran past cheering us on. The road was in surprisingly good condition and I intentionally ran on the shoulder when I could. I wanted  to remind myself not to charge ahead. Also, worried a tiny bit about traffic, which seemed fairly unfounded. It additionally seemed like a good idea to step off the road onto the soft shoulder for a while at a time to the softer impact of the dirt.

There was another overpass to cover just before the 5 mile mark. This is when I realized that I would have not two, but four hill-climbs I was not expecting. I dropped down the hill and into the 5-mile aid station ready for the challenge. I had maybe 5 steps out of the first half that made a slight twinge of pain prod my leg. Once I hit the gel packet and Gatorade at this station, I was ready for it. My Strava feed back had me right around a 9-minute pace for the last 3 miles and I wanted this race to be on.

Half-way point

Trying to keep in mind that I still had 5 miles to go, I picked up the pace and started to jockey ahead of folks who I’d been staring at the backs of for the past couple miles. Somewhere around 5.5 miles, I managed to sync up with a couple of ladies about 10 years older than me, if I had to guess. They kept dead even with each other and were talking occasionally. As I caught up to them, they seemed to kick up and ride right around me for almost the rest of the race. I would slip ahead for a mile, and they would be right behind me 5 steps. We’d swap places around a turn and I’d hustle a bit to get back in-line or ahead.

This was the little game I played to entertain me as I rocked along. My leg felt fine, and my nose, while running, wasn’t being too obnoxious. We collectively had a steady rhythm that took us past some folks we had long been following into the last 2 miles. In the last mile, I had planned to go for a hard push, and finish strong, but the hills had other plans.

Finishing up

Going up to last hill, I must have hit a rough patch. The ladies led off and got a good 50 strides ahead of me by the time I cleared it. Mile 9 was my fastest mile, but hitting that hill took a bit of steam out of my engine. For about half a mile, I felt a drag on my pace. I was still making good time, but I felt like there was more I just wasn’t mustering. Finally, when I rounded the last corner and saw the finish line in sight, I bounced up again in my pace. I finished probably about 30 seconds behind the ladies, and while I wanted to go congratulate them on a great race, I quickly lost track of them and lost my opportunity.

Results and Aftermath

Results

  • Chip time: 1:28:03
  • Pace: 8:49 min/mile
  • At 5-mile checkpoint
    • 44:48
    • Pace: 8:58 min/mile
  • Overall: 203 of 458
  • Overall Male: 145 of 245
  • Male 35-39: 21 of 33

There were water bottles and medals at the finish line, and my other half waiting for me. We ran into some acquaintances from work and she told me about the winning finishers. Inside the school they were serving Turkey and PB&J sandwiches with a variety of chips and some large cups of chicken noodle soup. The food was all fine, if not particularly remarkable. Results were fed to a computer in the gymnasium and of course to the race website. I was bib 321 for this race.

Well, about two minutes after I stopped running, my knee started to complain. And with gusto. The pain that flared up was considerable and made the step up the curb to enter the school something noticeable. In the time since the race, my knee has continued to complain at ant high step or certain movements, but it is behaving consistently with how I was in the days before the race. My shoes are about 200 miles past their need for replacement. With the coupon in my race packet, I’ll be on my way to hunt for new shoes on Tuesday.

Conclusion

In the end, I completed the race, made my goals, and had a good time. I’ve added the first medal to my collection for this year, and got a really nice long-sleeved race shirt. Not bad for 10 miles.