This race marked a milestone for me: it's the first time I've ever raced in a costume. Maybe I'm using costume a bit liberally here, but I was recognizably a black cat at the Run Scared 10k, and that counts for something.
There's something pretty damn ironic about putting on a whimsical headband and drawing whiskers on your face in the name of levity...and then absolutely suffering through a run for an hour. Yeah, I suffered, but I looked cute doing it!
Going into race day, I pretty much knew my strategy would be to treat the race as a long run. 10ks are my least favorite distance and neither Sarah nor I felt incredibly optimistic about breaking any records. We agreed to run the race conservatively, plan to walk at mile 3, and pick up the pace in the last mile or so if we felt strong.
|Race day breakfast: oats with protein powder and a cup of coffee
|Seeing this filled me with such an odd feeling of nostalgia and gratitude. It's been so long since I've seen any sort of race expo
|45F, cloudless and sunny...the perfect race weather!
The race started promptly at 9:45am. We ran into another friend from our running group, Ankush, and chatted a bit while we all warmed up in the first half mile.
Sarah's and my plan was quickly thrown when, within the first mile, we encountered two long, steep hills. I knew the route would bring us through Seward Park, where I ran the Amelia Island Virtual 12k last year, and as such I expected a flat race. However, to add some distance to the first lap, the route veered off the main path at the perimeter of the park and onto a road within it.
|That interior loop really threw us...for...a loop...
The hills were back-to-back and by the time we were halfway through the second one, Sarah requested a walk break, which I was happy to grant. Ankush ran ahead.
We let our calves cool off and then picked it up again. As we finally began to feel the road level off, a volunteer told us there were no more hills in the course...but the damage was done. We both felt gassed and a bit deflated by the rough start.
|At least it really was smooth sailing after the hills!
Still, we trucked along. Despite weakening resolve around mile 2.5, we got ourselves to mile 3 before our next walk break. By now, I was warm. I was glad I hadn't worn a vest but I kind of regretted wearing long sleeves.
I also began to suspect that the course would be short. My watch wasn't aligning with the mile-marker signs, and when we passed the 5k sign and bypassed the finish on our first loop, I could tell something was off. Honestly, knowing the course was short made things mentally a little easier in the moment.
I needed one more walk around mile 4. I have a tendency to walk frequently in 10ks, so all these breaks were par for the course. What did surprise me was that in the last two miles, I found some fortitude and powered through. Usually I walk around mile 5.5, but not this time. I told Sarah I wouldn't have anything left for a sprint at the end but I could manage without anymore walks if we just kept steady.
We turned the last bend toward the finish line and there, waiting along the route, were Sarah's husband and kids. That surprise gave us a little extra pep and we actually did manage a final sprint!
|Looking at this, I feel like my pace was better than I realized and pretty solid for a 6 mile long-run.
I'm having a hard to deciding how I feel about this race. My biggest gripe is that the course was significantly short — 5.93 on my watch, 6.09 on Sarah's. I think we could have kept up our pace for another quarter mile if the course were measured correctly, so I'm happy with our average pace (9:51) but I'm disappointed that I can't really use this to measure my 10k fitness right now.
On the other hand, the plan was always to treat this race as a long run, and we did that. We kept a great pace, comparable to our last 6 mile run (which didn't have any hills). And I can at least use the comparison data to see how we did in relation to others in our age group etc, and I'm not displeased with that!
|The pace here is skewed, but at least I can see how I did in my AG! I really always do fall smack in the middle.
After the finish we took pictures and got in line for snacks. This is the first race I've ever run with gluten free anything at the end (they had WOW cookies, which I really like!). They also had a candy corn tasting bar, a costume contest, and top-3 finishers awards in male, female, and nonbinary categories. Basically, this race felt inclusive and fun, and I'm happy I ran it.
|If you look closely, you can see my whiskers.
After the race Sarah and I went to brunch at Portage Bay Cafe. I had the gluten free French toast and will definitely be back again to take advantage of their self-serve berry and whipped cream bar.
|Their gf bread is baked in-house and was absolutely fantastic.