On Saturday morning, I ran the 2013 Heart of Virginia 10k. The short version: it was awesome.
The long version…
I got to P’s house in Farmville around 9pm on Friday night, and he had picked up my packet for me. I wasn’t expecting much more than my number and (maybe) a t-shirt, as the race didn’t seem to be organized in any sort of sophisticated manner, and the online registration indicated that only the first 150 registrants would get t-shirts. But I was tickled to add this beaut to my collection:
My packet also consisted of a bag that contained several flyers for other races and events in Farmville throughout the year, a plastic water bottle-bag thing, and a tube of sunscreen! Pretty decent. I love free race stuff. I was surprised to learn that I was number 10, as I didn’t register all that early, and because I assumed it was a high-demand race (due to the aforementioned cut-off of 150 t-shirts).
I had checked the weather for the race several times during the week, and it was supposed to be in the low 60’s with a 20% chance of rain between 8 and 11am. On Saturday morning, I woke up to temperatures in the 40’s, with some seriously cold breezes blowing. I dragged P out of bed, and we made it to Hampden-Sydney’s campus and the start line by 8:15. This is where I started to realize that the race was actually quite small, and perhaps not so well organized.
At the start line, I nervously sized up the other runners, and determined that I’d probably come in last. (I ended upcoming in 58th out of 72 runners.) There weren’t many of us, and the ones who were there looked pretty legit. One guy was jokingly asked “so, what time are you shooting for today?” to which he replied “probably around 34 minutes.” He ended up finishing in 32:53. Jerk!!
People were milling around, and a few of the race organizers informed us that we’d be starting in a few minutes, and that a fence post on the side of the road marked the start line. (See what I meant about disorganized?) P supported me by assuring me that I wouldn’t come in dead last (which was my very legitimate fear in a crowd that small), holding my water bottle, and generally listening to my nervous chatter. I really enjoyed having him there, hours before his normal Saturday morning waking hours!
Finally, around 8:35am, we were instructed to line up behind the start line. I fell into place somewhere near the back of the crowd. The announcer said “Runners, take your mark…GO!” And we were off. Here’s where I’ll mention that my iPod–which I had carefully loaded with music and fully charged the night before–died on me while I was lining up at the start. I’m actually glad that it happened, because this run was probably the most peaceful I’ve ever been on. (I also haven’t relied on music at all during this running cycle, which has been a strange change, as all during 2011, I depended on it to get through even the shortest runs.)
It became apparent within minutes of starting how runners would fall into place. I wound up right behind a group of 3: two men around my dad’s age, and a girl about my age. Their pace felt about right, and I ended up sticking with them for the entirety of the race, falling anywhere from 5 to 200 feet behind them.
The first half-mile of the course took us around the perimeter of Hampden-Sydney’s campus, and then we turned onto a back country road for the majority of the distance. The course was point-to-point, which I don’t think I’ve ever done before. (It ended in downtown Farmville, where the Heart of Virginia Festival was happening all day on Saturday.) The road wasn’t closed to traffic, so we had townspeople as well as police cars driving on the road with us for the entirety of the race. One thing I really enjoyed was that P drove into town and circled back, so he ended up passing me right around the halfway point. When he drove by going the opposite direction, I remember grinning and waving like crazy!
It was cool and breezy and overcast the entire time I was running, and I never had any major cramps or pains or discomfort. (Except that I had to pee the whole time…Probably because I tried to squash my nerves at the beginning by compulsively sipping water.) I ran past two horse fields, the first of which held two nervously curious horses who were eyeing a man with a weed-whacker nearby. The second set of horses were a gorgeous chestnut pair, who were giddily chasing each other across their field at a gallop. It was probably the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen while running a race. Aside from that, the back road we were on alternated between open fields and tree-covered portions, so there was all kinds of pretty springtime scenery to look at.
Now back to my physical race. I already mentioned the threesome that I tagged along with. I think I’ve blogged in the past about how the majority of my training runs happen on an old and crappy treadmill in my apartment complex’s gym. The treadmill’s speed and distance calculations are completely unreliable, and I complete all of my runs slowly. I’m talking seriously slow: I run at a 4.5-to-5.4 mph pace for nearly every run, which translates into approximately 13 minutes/mile. While my dad and I were training for the Ukrops 10k, we ran on the track at my high school, where it became clear that my real comfortable pace was closer to 10:30/mile than 13/mile. On Saturday, I hit the first mile marker at 9:39!!! I was elated (but worried), and surprised when I realized that it was actually a comfortable pace.
I spent the 6.2 miles chanting my mile splits in my head, taking in the scenery, and enjoying myself. These were my splits (and I’m so, so proud!):
Mile 1: 9:39 (9:39)
Mile 2: 19:41 (10:02)
Mile 3: 29:27 (9:46)
Mile 4: 39:09 (9:42)
Mile 5: 48:10 (8:59!!!)
Mile 6: 59:00 (10:50)
Finish: 1:01:01 (2:01)
Mile 6, as I posted on Friday, contained a MASSIVE (like, at least a quarter-mile long) hill. It could have been seriously defeating, but I knew it was there the whole time, and I prepared for it. I used some of the downhill portions to gain some time back (especially in mile 4!) and to relax, and I think it paid off.
This was a great race. It felt great to realize that I’m actually in better shape than I was a few weeks ago. It felt great to be relaxed and strong the whole time. It felt great just to feel great and enjoy it!
I crossed the finish line in 1:01:01 according to my watch (1:01:02 was my official time). Since I started a few seconds after the faster folks, I’m going with my own time on this one. I started my watch when I passed the fence-post-start-line, anyway.
After I finished, P and I headed to Main Street Farmville to check out the Heart of Virginia Festival. We peeked at the various craft and food vendors, and I bought some homemade jams to take to my grandma’s house for Mother’s Day next Sunday.
But somehow, from 10am on, it was even colder and more windy than it had been while I was running! So we didn’t stay for too long. However, earlier in the week, P promised me that after I finished my race, we’d find a funnel cake. And that we did!
I scoped out all the food stands to be sure we found the biggest one there. For $5, it was well worth it.
After we’d had our fill of funnel cake, street vendors, and being out in the cold, we headed back to P’s house to shower and get cleaned up, as we had a wedding reception to bartend!
Yep, that’s right: we were asked about a month ago if we’d be willing to help out at P’s friend’s sister’s wedding. We were more than willing. Any chance to try something new together! I was in charge of beer, and P handled wine pouring. By the end of the evening, I had popped so many tabs on so many beers that my finger actually started to bleed, but it was worth it for the experience. It was something that was really cool to get to do to help out on the couple’s big day.
And now, nearly 1,500 words later, I’m still blabbering on! All in all, it was a GREAT weekend. I enjoyed every minute of my time with P, and was on such a high from all the fun that it even carried me all the way through the day today–when it was dreary and rainy all day here in Charlottesville!
I hope you all had wonderful weekends, too!