I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that November has begun and Thanksgiving is next week. October and the start of November seemed to have come and gone when I wasn’t looking. The fact that I enjoyed fall weather for maybe two weeks in October before winter decided to come early certainly hasn’t helped matters.
The York Winter Series began yesterday with the Dover 10 Miler. This is my second year running the series. A recap and links to each race I ran last year can be found here. I’m certainly more prepared this year physically (stronger and faster), mentally (I know the courses except the races I wasn’t able to run last year) and I know how to dress for the conditions. Sort of. The wind is still the thorn in my side when determining if I should wear my gloves and headband or not. I’ll learn eventually.
I’m keeping my goals fairly low key for the series in that I just want to run each race faster than I ran it last year. I’d also like to keep my long distance mileage up a bit better in the off chance I decide to run a half marathon in the spring. The weather will be the primary factor in achieving that goal as I do not have access to a treadmill.
Yesterday was in the low 40s with little to no wind. I actually wish all the races started at 1pm on Sundays since it tends to be warmer than 9am Saturday mornings.
My running friend Todd chose to run with me as he ran the NYC marathon the previous week and wanted to run at an easier pace. My dad also ran with us most of the first half as he hasn’t gotten to train as much as he would like. It was a different experience for me to have running buddies by my side during a race. Normally I’m wishing them luck and watching their backs disappear ahead of me only to see their faces once I cross the finish line. It certainly made the first few miles fly by as we chatted. Our friend Armand was a volunteer at the water stop having ran the NYC marathon as well and not feeling up to racing again so soon. He cheered us on while handing us our cups.
My dad started to increase his pace as we got closer to the turn around point, and at first I was inclined to keep up with him. Knowing how I went out a bit too hard during the Hands on House half marathon and how it came back to bite me at the end of the race, Todd advised that I should hold back a bit. While I felt great and wanted to keep pushing I heeded his advice and that turned out to be a good thing.
The course is out and back with the out portion faster due to many downhills. Of course that means the back portion has a good number of uphills. I don’t find any of them to be overly difficult individually, but cumulatively they do take a toll. That is why listening to Todd was smart; had I kept up with my dad I likely would’ve started to burn out throughout the hilly sections. I was also grateful to have Todd with me for miles 7-9; they’re my mentally challenging miles anytime I run 10 miles or more and in that course they felt exceptionally long.
Around mile 8 I kept wondering if the person I saw off in the distance was my dad. Without wearing my glasses my distance vision isn’t good at picking out details. At times I thought it was him based on the running style, but other times not. I think I kept telling myself it wasn’t him, so that I wasn’t inclined to try to beat him. I only ever beat him in the first race we ran together, the River Run 5k, and part of me would love to do it again.
Within the last mile I knew for certain the man was my dad. I knew he would remain strong if not push harder on the final hill, so I didn’t bother to try to chase him but kept focused on hanging with Todd who was picking up slightly at times. As we approached the final turn into the school parking lot to the finish line I picked up my pace to a strong stride, something I certainly couldn’t manage at the half marathon. Armand was at the corner cheering us on and I held the stride the whole way through the finish line. I felt much better finishing than I did at the half which was a confidence booster that I can still finish strong if I race smart at the start.
My official time was 1:21:40 and I was 3rd in my age group. I had an 8:10 average pace and a 10 minute improvement over last year’s race.
The breakdown of my splits per my Garmin (which clocked me at a 1:21:37) were:
Miles 1 – 5: 7:55, 8:07, 7:59, 8:15 and 8:21
Miles 6 – 10: 8:26, 8:33, 8:31, 8:13 and 7:16 (Definitely did not think I was running fast enough to hit that as a final mile time)
I give Todd credit for helping to pace me to such a strong and fast finish. It was certainly a great race for me to kick off the series!