Race Report: 2014 OrthoCarolina 10K Classic

(Originally posted August 24, 2014. This was the first Race Report I ever wrote. Looking back, I was initially surprised that I didn’t post a picture from the starting line, but then I found the pictures I took that day, and in my starting line picture there was a guy standing in front of me in a really awkward pose, so I understand why I didn’t post that picture. Apparently, taking a picture of my race t-shirt didn’t become a tradition until later. Other than that, I haven’t made any major changes to the format.

Side note: Back in 2014, I thought a 10K qualified as a long run. How quaint. Anyway, on to the actual report.)

I survived.

Well, that’s obvious, as this is not a posthumous post. I guess I should say a little more than that.

There was no packet pickup on Thursday before the race. There was only Friday evening and Saturday morning, both at the site of the race. Getting there on Friday after work would have been a nightmare with rush hour traffic, so I opted for the pickup before the race. I wanted to get there really early, like right at 6:30, to avoid standing in line. That meant getting up at around 5:15 AM. That also meant going to bed early. Or trying to, anyway.

Around 9:45 Friday night, I went to bed. Around 9:55, I was still awake, and my phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number, so I didn’t answer, but I waited to see if they left a voice mail. They did, so I called in to listen to it, fully expecting a recording saying I won a cruise or some similar scam, but it turns out, it was one of my co-workers.

OK, out of bed, log in to work, fix something that was totally my fault, and back to bed. It’s 10:15. OK, I can still do this.

Except at this point, I’m thinking about the race, about what I screwed up at work (nothing really major, just something that bugged me), about how early I need to get up. Under ideal circumstances, I can have trouble turning off my brain so I can get to sleep. This was not an ideal circumstance. I spent a good chunk of the night tossing and turning. I somehow managed to wake up at 5:14.

I showered, used the bathroom twice (I really, really, really hydrated on Friday), ate a couple of slices of wheat bread with peanut butter (carbs and protein, good for long runs), drank some water, brushed my teeth, and left.

They had a large parking deck where you could park for free, which is always good. I got there right at 6:30. There was no line for packet pickup. The packet consisted of a t-shirt (no tech tee, just a cotton/polyester blend, boo), my bib, and 4 safety pins. I am now glad that I didn’t brave rush hour traffic for this.

I went back to my car to drop off the shirt and put on sunscreen. (Seriously, with my complexion, I need SPF 1000, and I’m probably still a melanoma case waiting to happen.) I then picked up my timing chip. Luckily I got it fairly early, because everybody had to get it at the race, and the lines got really long by around 7.

After that, I just wandered around, worrying about the weather (76 degrees, over 90% humidity), my lack of sleep, the hills. And then I saw this, about half a block from the starting line.

2014-08-23 07.32.47

Stop worrying. That’s pretty much what I needed to hear at that time. It worked. I was pretty relaxed as 7:45 approached.

Now, if this was Hollywood, I would have had a fantastic race, all because I saw that sign. But 76 degrees made it more like a horror movie.

All of the mile times listed below are from RunKeeper, but since I didn’t stop it right after the race (oops), I have no idea what my time or pace were for the last .2 miles.

Mile 1

I went out too fast. I haven’t figured out how to fix that on any run that isn’t in my neighborhood. Between being in a large group that runs much faster than I should run, and the fact that almost all of the first mile of this race was downhill, I was going too fast, and I finished the first mile in 10:58.

Mile 2

This mile was mildly eventful. My phone was in my pocket, and I heard the sound that indicated I got a text message, which I thought was odd for a Saturday morning, but apparently my dentist’s office decided to text me a reminder about my appointment on Monday. Gee, thanks.

We also had a few small uphill climbs. It was still doable, although I really should have walked a bit more. Still, I was doing OK, and finished the mile in 12:00 even.

Miles 3 and 4

Hills. Lots and lots of hills. The heat really started to take its toll. Also, in case you were wondering, that stop worrying thing wasn’t working any more. Mile 3 clocked in at a respectable 11:46, but Mile 4 jumped up to 12:24.

Mile 5

At this point, a combination of a few welcome downhill stretches and the fact that I didn’t really care any more made for my fastest mile since the first one, 11:42. Respectable. Had I been able to keep that up, I would have been happier about the race.

Mile 6 to the end

More hills. More climbing. More heat. It was just too much to keep up my Mile 5 pace. Mile 6 ended up at 12:32, but here at least I have something of a story.

I was taking a much needed walk break, when a woman passed me. We had been passing each other for a while. This time, as she passed, she asked, “Intervals?” I replied, “Not (pant) exactly (pant) planned.” I think she laughed. I nicknamed her Interval Woman.

Anyway, I stumbled along, occasionally running, occasionally walking. I do remember a volunteer telling us we had 300 meters to go. I thought to myself, “Dude, I can’t convert metric without a calculator under ideal conditions.” Later, I figured it out, and it’s about .18 miles. I could have sworn this guy was before the 6 Mile marker, though, so I don’t know. Either way, knowing I had 300 meters didn’t help much.

Around that time, Interval Woman caught up to me while I was walking. I could almost see the finish line, so I was getting ready to run at the end, but she kind of forced my hand. I don’t remember her exact words, but she basically said we were both going to run the rest of the way. So I started running one last time.

I eventually left Interval Woman behind, and closed in on this older guy. We both sped up as we approached the finish line. I couldn’t quite catch him. But I finally finished. (Later, when I looked at the results, his age wasn’t listed, but his category was: Male 70+. Kudos, Old Man.)

I had to stop for a moment while a volunteer took my timing chip, but it was pretty quick. (Funny, a couple of weeks ago I was reading a race report on a blog for a race somewhere out west, and the blogger mentioned having to wait for someone to get their timing chip – apparently this other race wasn’t quite as efficient – and I was bemused because at the time, I had never had to give back a timing chip. Now I have.)

At this point, I needed water. I found the tent where they had water, bananas, bagels, and oranges. One small problem, they were temporarily out of cups. Ah, the joys of finishing near the back of the pack. I got a cup from the beer tent (Thank you, NoDa Brewing), and went back for several cups of water and some of the food.

I was completely drenched with sweat. It was so bad, my fingertips were sweating, which meant it took several tries to get my phone to unlock. But I finally got it, and here is the obligatory post-race picture of me with my car key.

2014-08-23 09.21.21

I then posted on Facebook that there are 3 Classic Blunders:

1) Never get involved in a land war in Asia.
2) Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line.
3) Never run a 10K in Charlotte in August.

This course would have been difficult at 56 degrees. We had 76 degrees. It was brutal. My previous warmest race was 60, so I beat that by 16 degrees.

And yet, in spite of everything, I still managed (with a little bit of external encouragement) to finish strong.

Now, I had to write all of this so far without knowing for sure what my final time was. Apparently, they had a power hit at some point, and that messed things up. They do apparently have everyone’s correct time, but it’s just going to take some time to get it posted.

Well, as of 6:30 PM Sunday, my time is listed as 1:13:56. Now, at one point earlier in the day, it was listed as 1:16 something. (I’ve also noticed that I went from being 301st to 303rd to 305th over the course of the day. Not that I care about moving down, as long as I’m not last, and I’m at 305 out of 355.) So I’m not sure if that’s my final time. It seems feasible. I forgot to stop RunKeeper right after I finished, and by the time I did, my time was up to 1:15:50. It was probably about 2 minutes after I crossed the finish line when I stopped it. For now, I’m going with 1:13:56, although it’s listed as my clock time, and my chip time is listed as blank.

I guess my overall reaction (and this may change if my official time is lowered) is that, in spite of brutal conditions and a really hilly course, I was less than a minute slower than when I ran 6.2 miles a week earlier. So I’m…well, pleased is a strong word. Let’s say satisfied. (I still want to run another 10K some day and beat my time, of course.)

And, since this was my first 10K race, no matter what the final time is, it’s a PR.