On June 13, I ran the Rockin’ on the River 10K in Gadsden, Alabama. Gadsden once had a vibrant and active running club but it eventually fell into disrepair and the club faltered. For years they hosted a 10K called the Spring Run. This race was run on the old Spring Run course.
Since I have planned to run a 10K in Clanton, Alabama on June 20, I decided to treat this as a training run. Plus, I didn’t hear about this particular race until Thursday of race-week. So, on a whim, and looking for a t-shirt to add to my 365 race shirt goal, I registered at the last minute. To make sure I didn’t get lost on Saturday morning, I drove to Gadsden (about 25 miles away) during my Friday lunch hour and pre-registered for the event. I figured that I was going to run on Saturday morning, so why not test myself, support a local race, and get a shirt.
Race morning saw me rise about 3 hours before the 8:30 start time and a eat peanut butter and jelly sandwich on wheat bread, which I have found to be light and filling enough to be a great pre-race meal for several races now. The PBJ doesn’t upset my G.I. balance, and it is easily and quickly digested. I also prepared about 40 ounces of Hammer Nutrition’s Heed, half of which I sipped during the drive to the race, the other half I planned to consume during the race.
As I approached Gadsden, I saw dark clouds on the horizon and concluded we’d get a little rain. By the time I parked the car, the bottom had fallen out and the rain was falling pretty heavy. We still had at least 45 minutes until gun so I expected it to maybe clear up.
Since this was the renewal of a race that had not been run in years, there were a few growing pains. Having a strong rain shower at race time killed any walk-up registration, so there was a small, but devoted band of runners, some 40-50 strong, who braved the elements for a 10K jaunt through Gadsden and some of its nicest scenery. But the flyers for the race announced an 8 a.m. start, but the newspaper announced that the start was 8:30. So we all waited around a bit longer for the later start, which allowed some of the heavier rain to pass. There wasn’t a great deal of course security, and we often found ourselves dealing with traffic. But the organizers were enthusiastic and several drove along the course to protect our path. I was impressed with the small band of race organizers. This is a race I plan to support in coming years. There were even a few folks talking about renewing the Gadsden Running Club. I told them I’d join and do what I could to help.
Like I wrote, I went into this run seeing it as a last training long/hill run for June 20th 10K. But the temps were lower, at about 68 with tolerable humidity, and the rain was light with very cloudy conditions. So I decided to see what I could do. This is a hilly course but the first mile is down hill mostly, so I went out faster than usual and moderated my pace in mile 2. I was cruising along averaging about 10:50 or 11:00 per mile pace and after I was good and warm at mile 3, I really felt like I had some mojo. Armed with my new Brooks ID shirt and my Beasts, I decided to see if I could finish below 1:10:00.
After the Country Music Half-marathon fiasco, I learned some hard lessons. I learned that hill work should never be neglected. I learned, too, that speed work is more important than we think. I tried to be loyal to both during this training. I did longer speed intervals of at least 800 to 1200 meters, and my Saturday long runs had hill repeats in the middle to replicate race conditions of hills late in races.
I recalled lessons from Chris Russell of the Run Run Live Podcast (runrunlive.com) about how to climb hills without sacrificing form. I recalled the way my legs felt when I had entered into a nice steady, but hard pace on speed intervals. Everything seemed to fall into place. All of my training clicked.
Here are my splits
At three miles I was just over 33 minutes, and concluded that I could probably pull this off. At 4 miles I was just over 44 minutes. My pace had not fallen off as it has in past races. I was feeling strong, if not stronger, as the race went on. I could feel some strength in my legs as I climbed. I did take four brief walk breaks, three at water stops, and a fourth after a particular nasty hill. No longer than 30 seconds were these breaks, just enough to catch my breath and regroup. At mile 5 I was just over 55 minutes and knew that my goal was in sight. I told myself to push it in the last mile, that I had all day to rest and take a nap. I was close to achieving a goal. I was pretty excited. Not sure why, but the last mile of any race seems to last longer than the others. And such was the case this time, too. But I still had strength and you can see from my splits that my last mile was faster than my first.
I crossed the finish line in 1:08:43 (gun time). Since this was my first 10K, I now have a new personal best. I run a 10K on June 20 in Clanton Alabama with some new friends and I’ll try to better my time. Now that I’ve run the distance, had some success, and know what to expect, I hope I can improve my performance.
Here is the elevation chart. Pretty hilly course, no?
My new Brooks ID shirt. I am a member of the Brooks ID team, “Inspire Daily” and I tamed my Brooks Beasts to set a 10K PR!
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