Well hello there! I haven’t been posting nearly as often as I used to, but when you have something worth posting you go for it.
Lots of things still aren’t back to “normal” yet, but we’re working on it. One of things that we did manage to get back is Lynchburg’s beloved Virginia 4 & 10 milers. I love this race for so many reasons, mainly because it feels like THE WHOLE TOWN shows up. It’s so fun to see lots of familiar faces and so much enthusiasm from both participants and spectators alike. This year it was especially fun because there were people I haven’t seen in so long.
Getting ready for the 10 miler is a big part of Lynchburg’s summer activities. By July, tons of people can be seen on the course every weekend. My employer has a running group that meets every Monday and Thursday to train together. It’s a great group full of runners of every speed and every age. Some of us have been doing it for a long time now.
My best 10 milers have been when I’m in the middle of marathon training and have already ramped up in mileage. 10 miles feels a lot easier when I’m already running 20 for a long run. This year, my long was 14 going into this race, so I knew I wouldn’t quite be there.
Last year, we got ready for this race, but of course COVID had other plans and the race was canceled. My work group ran the course together for an “unofficial” race and I was able to run a 70:44. I was pretty happy with that at the time.
This year, I decided that I’d try to run a 68. My PR is 68:16 wayyyyy back in 2012. This was a pretty aggressive choice, but once I saw the weather report and a chance of sub-50 degree weather I figured why not?
Friday I cleared my head and ran a threasy. Everything checked out. Legs felt fresh enough. Mind was in a good place. Ready to roll.
Then came Saturday morning. I caffeined up and headed out for a warm up. I decided I’d run in my Vaporflys (you know, the cheater shoes). They really do feel great. They won’t run the race for you, but boy oh boy do they feel great. I started to talk to friends to calm my nerves, then came curveball #1: My music was dead. I don’t know what happened, but my Aftershokz wouldn’t stay on! Calm down, Randy. Music is in your heart. You don’t need it. I’ll be ok. Then came curveball #2: There was supposed to be Gu available. I had none. It’s fine. Calm down, Randy. You ate a Clif bar.
The Virginia 10 miler is a beast of a course. You start with about a 1.25 mile downhill that when combined with the excitement of a race is a recipe for disaster. I’ve certainly started too fast (like a 5:50 pace….oopsie) before. It’s not that part that can be the killer; it’s not recognizing that you need to take your foot off of the gas as you head into the disgusting climb that is miles 1.5 to 3. Bleh.
That section is a race killer cause if your legs start to turn to jelly and your lungs feel bottomed out, you think to yourself, “I STILL HAVE 7 MILES LEFT.” It can be quite discouraging if you don’t calm down.
From there it’s rolling hills until you get to what seems like a flat stretch on Rivermont Ave. until you head into Riverside Park. There another climb awaits. The race’s halfway point is smack in the middle of a short but steep climb. You keep climbing until you loop through the park and back onto Rivermont. It’s at this point that you know how your race is going to end up, to some extent. Staying positive here is crucial. You end up heading back the way you came on the “flat” part of the race and then turn back onto Langhorne Rd. to reap the benefits of all of the climbing you did earlier. You can fly a bit if you want to, but it’s wise to save some for the final push…..The Farmbasket.
The Farmbasket is where you pay the piper for that easy 1.25 miles that you cashed in earlier. It has made many a runner walk. There are always spectators lining the road to try to give you that last little bit of encouragement to keep you from giving up on yourself. It doesn’t always work. It didn’t work for me this time. I walked a bit. I wasn’t injured. I wasn’t cramping up. I just didn’t have enough left to give. Admittedly, I was on the verge of puking, but I’ve pushed through that before. No excuses here.
As I made my way up the hill, I heard a spectator say, “Go, MC!” MC is one of my greatest running buddies and we often race neck and neck. I knew after over 9 miles that she had caught up to me. Shame beats encouragement every time, so I mustered the drive to continue on with MC.
I saw the clock….69 minutes and counting. I sprinted hard for that sub-70. I really did give it all that I had left, with my last 0.12 miles pushing at a sub 6:00 mile pace. It wasn’t quite enough, but it left me happier with my effort.
After the race, I scarfed some pizza but I gave my candy to Ben. He earned it for being talked into watching me race. I also have to thank Jen for deciding to come see me AND getting Ben to come too. It really did help to see them.
Socializing after the race is always a favorite of mine. Look at these people. 🙂
Here’s the best part….Although 70:04 isn’t my best time, it was good enough this year! I WON MY AGE GROUP. Thanks to some really fast runners not showing up, for the first time in 11+ attempts at this race, I took home some hardware. It’s in the mail, so I hear. 🙂
One thing that I really thought about during my years of racing is how you think about your race going in. I used to hope that when I sped up these exhausting hills, that maybe, just maybe, I wouldn’t suffer so much.
I realize now that one of the biggest pieces of the puzzle is being fully aware that you will inevitably suffer. Be prepared for it and just suffer better.
Thanks for reading. I hope this wasn’t TOO unbearable.