There were no killer hills and quite a few medium long down hills but lots of turning and up hills can take a bite out of a runner’s pace.
I think I read that sentence four times before deciding that they said “no killer hills” and that should probably mean I won’ be slowed down too much by them. I would power through those hills. This makes me laugh now.
I signed up and went to pick up my race bib on Thursday afternoon. The volunteers working packet pick up could not have been nicer. We were chatting and one of them told me she had just run the course earlier that day and that it was “beautiful but really challenging.”
It turns out she wasn’t kidding. It was HARD.
The Fairfax CASA Run for the Children 10K is a really awesome race. It was perfectly organized. Plenty of parking. Ample porta potties. Lots of water and food and entertainment. A really fun vibe from start to finish. Amazing raffle and prizes. These guys know how to put on a race.
The course is truly beautiful. It starts and finishes at the Courthouse complex right off Main Street in Fairfax City. Most of the route is through pretty neighborhood streets. It is hilly though. I have to disagree with the article I read – I think there was a “killer hill” right about around Mile 4. But even despite the course being riddled with hills and lots of turns all throughout — I still loved it. And I still PR’d.
When I got to the Start I was ready to aim for 7:00 miles and hoped to come across the finish line somewhere around 43 minutes. I wasn’t going to worry about the hills – I would just deal with them when I had to. I wanted to do my best and I wasn’t going to let anything stop me.
When the race began we ran straight down a hill and then around a turn into the neighborhoods. For the first half mile I was running in the “lead pack” which was a totally new experience for me. There were probably about 3 women (including me) and 6 men behind a motorcycle – it was surreal! I had a hard time wiping the smile off my face because I thought it was so funny – was this really happening to me? I never pictured myself at the front of a race like that (hey, even if it is a local 10K – it was cool!).
I ran the first mile in 6:36 and knew that was a little fast for me, but I didn’t care. I chalked it up to the downhill at the beginning combined with race day excitement and the fact that if I was able to hold on, I could place in the top 3 overall females (trust me when I tell you that this is something I truly never imagined I would ever experience).
It was hard for me to pull back too much because of the excitement and the adrenaline. Going into the second mile there were four females. One of them was pretty far ahead of me and I wasn’t so sure I could catch her. Another was very close, sometimes so close I could touch her. The other was right next to me. For the next two miles I went back and forth with that woman, she would pull ahead of me and then we would take a turn and I would pull ahead of her. We would go up a hill and she would inch ahead of me, down it and there I was ahead of her. It was so fun!! I kept telling myself to just run my own race and not worry about what she was doing, but I wanted to beat her. I really did. I’m not ashamed to say it. I wanted it bad.
Mile 2: 6:51
Mile 3: 7:00
By the time we finished the third mile I was feeling strong, as though I had settled into my own pace. About half way through the fourth mile (I think) we hit THE HILL. This hill was a whopper. When I picture it in my head now it looks like a mountain. I’m sure it wasn’t that big, but it was long and I was fighting to maintain my speed up it. The only good thing about that hill I have to say is that this hill is where I pulled away from the 4th woman and secured my spot in the top three females. I felt victorious when I reached the top.
Mile 4: 7:03
As I headed into Mile 5 I really wanted to catch the girl in front of me. She was a steady and strong runner and I wanted to catch her so badly. I got so close at times, but she kept her lead. There were more hills and turns and I was holding my pace, but she was too and I wasn’t gaining enough ground to catch her.
Mile 5: 7:03
We came near a water stop and I tried to will her to stop to get a drink, so I could just pass her and take second. Maybe if I use THE FORCE I can convince her that she is tired and thirsty and she really doesn’t care about placing in the race? Thinking about this now totally cracks me up. How competitive am I? I’m kind of embarrassed to be admitting this on the internet. Well, anyway, my mind powers did not work and the girl stayed ahead of me. We ran up more hills (including another doozy as we came to the end of the 6th mile) and around some more turns and she was STILL in front of me.
Mile 6: 7:12
For the last and final .2 (which was actually .3 on my watch), I pushed with all I could muster, crossing the finish line in 43:46.
I was the 3rd female to finish, and the 7th overall finisher. My average pace was a 6:58 and it was a PR by 9 minutes (my old PR was a 52:58, set about one year ago). I was proud.
I finished 10 seconds behind the 2nd place female, who was a super nice girl as it turns out. The first place female beat me by about 30 seconds (she was also so nice). I stuck around for the prizes and was really excited to get a $100 gift certificate to Pacers running store — new shoes here I come!
This race was one of the toughest I have ever run. I NEVER imagined that I would be the third fastest woman in any race! It was so amazing to come home to my family and tell them the news – they were all so cute and excited and so proud of me. We spent the rest of the day at the tee ball field (Go Hot Rods!!) and hanging out with family. My sister and her girls were here for a quick visit and I loved that my house was filled with cousins laughing and playing and making memories together.
I am a runner. I am a wife. I am a mommy. And an aunt and a sister and a daughter and a friend. These things make me who I am. Some days I feel like one of these roles takes precedence over the others and there is an imbalance, I am good at one or two but failing at the others. But not yesterday. Yesterday I was able to be all of these things as best as I could. It was a good day. And I am grateful.