Knights of Columbus 10 Mile Run for the Heart – Jan 24 2015
By late January I normally have a few races already under my belt. This year I kicked off the racing season with a 50 mile training run for an upcoming 100 mile race (the Graveyard 100, my second). Add in the effects of our annual getaway cruise getting moved to mid-January instead of early February which left me with a big fat ZERO in the racing column. As the end of the month approached I was feeling a bit antsy for a race.
To correct this dilemma I took to the web. While pulling a fartlek on the internet I came across a local 10 mile race. The 3rd Annual Knights of Columbus 10 Mile Run for the Heart held on the tour roads of the Yorktown Battlefields. This race fit perfectly between long training runs for Graveyard. This race came at just the right time to scratch that racing itch.
Leading up to every race I’m always surprised at how lucky I have been to have raced the majority of my 84 races under great conditions. Even the worst race day weather has not been that bad. Well…..old man weather hasn’t been the best of friends to the Knights of Columbus 10 Miler. In 2013/2014, the race was postponed due to snow/ice which closed the Battlefield roads. This year the race went on as scheduled despite a cold rain that covered the area most of Friday night and into Saturday morning. Conditions at race time saw a cold light rain, which eased up during the race and a light breeze throughout the race. Temperature at race time was 38 degrees. You win some and you lose some.
Orange Air Force Marathon Hat
Plain Orange Long Sleeve technical shirt
Black/Orange OPEDIX KNEE-Tec 2.0 compression tights
Bright Orange Nike Air Pegasus shoes
Black Injini Toe Socks
Garmin 201 GPS watch
Run Gum – a great caffeine kick to get fired up on a cold wet day
103 runners entered the race with 89 runners completing the course.
I seldom go into a race, viewing the other runners as competition. I race myself, I race the clock and I race my previous times. Going into this 10 miler I wanted to break my previous 10 mile PR/PB of 1 hour 23 minutes 49 seconds at the 2012 Lake Charles Running Expo. Throughout the fall and winter I had been running well in training correcting a few running flaws in my gait to the point that my training times had really improved. I figured this race would be a good opportunity to open up the reins and see how fast I could run. If everything went right I hoped to race for an age group top three. I planned to win this race against the clock.
RACE: The start of the race was on the battlefield roads, a good half mile walk from Yorktown High School. Leaving the warm and comfortable confines of the high school lunch room I noticed the rain had stopped but it was still very cold. On this damp morning I did not want to arrive too early to the starting line and have to stand around in the cold. I also did not want to be late. Running a few strides and bouncing around in place kept the legs limber as we waited for the field to get organized. After a few short words, the gun went off and we were let lose.
Normally a slow starter whether in training or on race day I tried to pick up today’s starting pace without going out to fast and burning out early. I got off the line well and held my own as the pack began to stretch out. The majority of the opening miles I made my way thou the crowd passing runners who went out fast, yet could not keep up the pace. At the first out and back section I caught a glimpse of the front runners and after a quick count I figured I must be close to being in the top 20. I decide then and there that this was going to be a RACE. I was going to run hard, I was going to run smart and I was going to finish strong. You race to victory or sometimes you get beat.
Mile 1, 8:01 / Mile 2, 7:57 / Mile 3, 7:34 / Mile 4, 7:14 / Mile 5, 7:16
The opening segment of the race went well. I was feeling good, my legs had responded, my lungs were working well providing my body all the required oxygen and my mind was squarely in the game. As I rounded the Mid-Point mile marker, I ran a quick math drill in my head and figured out I was on target to run a new PR/PB. The battle now came in believing I could keep up this pace for the next five miles. A weak point in my running armor has always been a fear of blowing up. I tend to run conservative, below my potential for the fear of burning out and having to Did Not Finish (DNF) remark next to my name. Today at the mid-way point I was feeling taxed, but I knew I had enough fuel remaining in the tank. I knew I had not run so fast in the beginning that I had burned the fuel from both ends of the tank.
Mile 6, 7:43 / Mile 7, 7:41
Mile 8, 6:51, Up to this point I had passed a fair number of runners while working my way to the front. As the numbers on the mile markers increased the distance between the runners in front of me was growing longer. In the closing miles it took more of an effort to reel them in and to get around them. Just after mile marker eight, I took on two packs of runners that required me to put on a concentrated effort to catch and put some distance on them. This moved left about 100 yards plus to the next group of runners in front of me. The next grouping was a pair of guys running stride for stride. I called them “the running buddies” in my mind as I began my attack.
Mile 9, 7:19, I began my assault as the course turned back to the start/finish area. With less then a mile left in the day I was in full on race mode. The course here had some sneaky rolling terrain. No real mountains or hills to climb but enough of an elevation gain that it could take some zip out of your legs. These hills also made a wonderful place to pass someone. I had to put on a strong effort to catch the two guys in front of me. I pulled shoulder to shoulder with them just as we reached the base of one section of rolling terrain. Normally I would conserve my legs and mark time as we climbed the hill in hopes of being able to make a pass on the downhill side. Today, I decided to make my move on the uphill. And make-a-move, I did. Never breaking stride I fired off a big push and continued this move on the uphill slope and passed the two running buddies I had moments ago trailed. By the time I had reached the crest of the hill I had a good 15 yards of separation and was pulling away. On the downhill section I had moved clearly out in front of them and had a welcomed separation of 50 yards. But this wouldn’t be the last I was to hear from these two. Sometimes you give and sometimes you take.
After catching the running buddies I had only one lone runner in sight. A guy wearing a red shirt was about 50 yards in front of me with a mile to go. Like the crimson red cape of a Matador to his bull, the guy in red tormented me all the way to the finish. I knew I was having a good race I just had to finish strong and I would get my PR/PB. But now I wanted to catch this guy.
To make up the distance it was going to take some serious effort. To answer this call I put my head down and went to work. Part of improving my pace over the last year was to run more on the front of my feet. Early on in my running career I was a heavy heel striker. Watching some of my favorite ultra-running movies I enjoyed seeing how elite runners ran. I noticed they ran more up right and forward. This contrasted greatly to my form of a heavy heel striker. Over the summer months and into the fall I worked very hard at landing more forward on my feet. In training I concentrated on staying up on my feet. During this 10 miler as I was beginning to tire, I concentrated on my mantra of staying “up on my feet.” This helped me to keep pace at the end of the race and not just in the beginning. Today would I drink the wine or stomp the grapes?
Coming off a slight downhill I poured on the coals. This effort allowed me to get to within in 30 yards of the runner in red then he would slip away. At the same time I could hear voices behind me and they sounded like they were getting closer. Not wanting to get caught from behind, I poured on the gas once again, the voices grew faith, the red shirt guy grew large. This cycle continued for the last half mile of the race, back and forth we jousted. I was unable to complete killer blow on the guy in red. Correspondingly, the voices chasing me were never able to advance. Cresting the final incline and turning to the left the finish came into sight. I pressed home with everything I had this time able to separate myself from the voices that had been trailing me and yet I could not make up any ground on the guy in the red shirt.
Mile 10, 7:38, The Finish line, Crossing the finish line I glanced over at the official race timer. In big, bold, and bright red numbers flashed the PB/PR that I had wanted: 1 hour 17 minutes and 3 seconds. A new best by 6+ minutes. Thankful for the great finish, but bummed I could not catch the red shirted bandit I went seeking him out. I wanted to find the guy in red and thank him for spurring me on, I wanted to finally “catch up” with him, but he was nowhere to be found. Dejected that I would never find him I turned to grab a cup of Gatorade out of the big orange containers. As I began to sip my finishers drink from behind I heard two voices, “we have been trying to catch you for the past mile.”
Some times you finish behind your goal and sometimes you finish in front. The Knights of Columbus 10 Mile Race was a fun run, a spirited race and a great day to run miles over some wonderful roads in the Yorktown Battlefields. I scored a PR/PB and placed 2nd in my age group.