In retrospect, I should have expected the email. For whatever reason, though, I didn’t, and was a bit surprised when:
“Looking forward to seeing everybody on Thanksgiving – hey, there is a 10K about 45 minutes away – anybody want to do that?”
So, I signed up for a 10K on Thanksgiving morning.
This was the 23rd running of the Ashburn Farm 10K, which is a fundraising event organized by Crossroads United Methodist Church in Ashburn, Virginia. They support a charity in Uganda that helps young people with school – a worthy cause. They were expecting around 2,300 going into the event, though I did hear the number 3,000 at one point that morning.
Six of us went – our hosts for the week, Dave and Erin, two of their kids, my sister-in-law, and me. When I announced we needed to leave around 6:30am in order for me to be comfortable about getting there, my sister-in-law groaned a rather lot. But we were out of the house by 6:40 – not bad.
We parked near the start line, which was about two blocks from the finish line and therefore a perfect place to make a quick exit after. Packet pickup was in the church, and then we headed back and stayed warm in the car until the 10K start, which was 8:15. Dave and one of the girls were running the 5K, so they came out and cheered and then presumably headed back to the car.
Couldn’t hear much from the back of the pack, 3-2-1, go. It took about 45 seconds to get to the start line (this will be important later), and we were off. I never felt crowded at the beginning, which was nice. I had looked at the elevation profile, so was prepared for the hill in Mile 1 – a hill that was especially daunting for the Florida runner. I can do an 8 mile long run and my Garmin will tell me that my total elevation gain is 8 feet. So a 100 foot hill is a monster.
My goal was to PR, which is to say that I wanted to beat the time I ran less than two weeks before at The Florida Run – which was a 10:43 pace. Mile 1 was a 10:38 mile, so ahead of pace even with the hill. But I felt OK, so I went with it.
Mile 2 was kind of rolling, with some downhills after the crest at the end of Mile 1. Miles 2 – 5 were a big out-and-back, and at the end of Mile 2 is where I met the leaders going the other way, near their Mile 4. Looked like running club or track kids – they were flying. Mile 2 was a 10:21. In Mile 3, also kind of rolling, I met the three people I was running with coming back on the out-and-back, as well. I wasn’t as far away from them as I might have thought. Mile 3 was 10:22 – very consistent.
About halfway through Mile 4 we turned up a hill that, again, wasn’t that bad for most, but … Florida. It sucked. That hill continued into Mile 5, but by then I knew I was on a real PR pace and took off. Mile 4 was 10:33, Mile 5 was 10:15.
And then the elevation turned downhill. Mile 6 was a downhill bomb for me, losing 100 feet of elevation in the mile. There was nobody around me – really not anybody in front or anybody behind. I was on an island and decided to uncork it. It felt … great. I ran Mile 6 in 9:38, which is one of the fastest miles I’ve ever run in a race. And to have that happen in the sixth mile of a 10K, well … that feels good.
Near the end of Mile 6 we met up with the 5K race, and because of my time that means I was with the walkers. I spent half a mile dodging walkers, and as we neared the finish line we were in a residential area with turn-y roads and apartment complexes, so you couldn’t see the finish. It was maddening. A couple of hundred yards out Dave and his daughter came back to cheer for me and told me it was close, just go. The clock at the finish line said 1:04.24 when I crossed it, and my watch said exactly 6.2 miles and 1:03.43.
My official time was 1:04.24, a 10:22 pace, and the timing company posted that my net time and my gun time were identical. And that appears to be the case for most of the people that ran – there are very few people that have a different net time and gun time. Of course, that doesn’t make sense. It looks like their start line failed to register our bibs, so they had to go with the gun time at the finish. That sucks – I’m convinced I ran this nearly 40 seconds faster, at a 10:15 pace, which is spectacular for what I’ve done in the past.
Update: They updated the times! My official time for this was race is now 1:03.38, or a 10:16 pace! Not sure what made me look, but … woot! The next paragraph has been edited to reflect the updated time.
I PRed by nearly 3 minutes, off of a 6.5 minute PR that I set less than two weeks before this race. In the last two weeks, I’ve taken 10 minutes off of my 10K PR. 10 minutes. I’m crediting Crossfit – I’m about the size I was when I was running these a couple of years ago, but my aerobic threshold is so much higher. I’m thrilled with this, even if I did lose a few seconds.
- Much of the course was not completely closed to traffic, and I saw two different instances where cops were yelling at drivers. Thanks to the boys in blue for coming out on Thanksgiving morning and keeping us safe.
- Because they all finished a few minutes before me, I didn’t really get a chance to visit the after-race amenities inside the church. They said it was a zoo in there though – fortunately, they grabbed me a water and a banana.
- I don’t like uphills, of course – but I remember now why I don’t mind hills in general. Downhills are awesome. That last mile was a bomb and felt like it – I have almost never run that fast.
- A few people cheering for me at the end by calling out my bib number. It was cool. I’ve got a couple of races coming up where my name is on the bib – I think that is going to be a good thing.
- Afterward we went back to the house and WRECKED Thanksgiving dinner. Wrecked it. My early calorie deficit did not last very long. I ate a lot, is what I’m trying to say.
- Not a lot of SWAG – a nice long-sleeve cotton shirt with the logo that you saw above, and some coupons to local places. Apparently there were some door prizes, but I spent so little time in that area that I have no idea. Not complaining – it was a $35 race and they were raising money for charity. And it is a nice shirt.
- Next race: Celebration Half Marathon, January 29th. I may try to find a 5K between now and then, but other than that, a big one is next. Given what has happened in the last two weeks, I feel REALLY good about that one.