Race Report: 2017 Joe Davis Run For Recovery 10K

I’ve never had a race get postponed before. There’s a first for everything. I guess I’m lucky that it was a small local race, and that I didn’t have any plans for the makeup date other than a long run.

You can read about the story of Joe Davis on the race website.

I really have to give the race organizers credit. They made the decision to postpone two days before the race, and they were able to get Thursday and Friday packet pickup before the new race date. I usually complain when a race only has one day of packet pickup (unless it’s an all-day expo). I would have been willing to cut the organizers a little slack if they could only do one day of packet pickup due to the rescheduling, but they still had two days, so kudos.

Thursday’s packet pickup was at Charlotte Running Company in Rock Hill. I had other plans for Thursday evening, and even if I didn’t, getting to Rock Hill before 7 would have been tough. (Side note: I had no idea CRC had a store in Rock Hill.)

Friday, they had packet pickup at Charlotte Running Company at Promenade on Providence. (I’m very familiar with that location, and I still hate that parking lot.) I took the day off, so I was able to get there just after 3 PM. They gave me a bag with my bib, shirt, and swag. They offered safety pins for my bib, but I have plenty at home, so I declined.

First, the shirt.

A white race shirt! There’s only one problem. It’s 100% cotton. (Insert sad trombone sound.) Oh well. After I got over my disappointment, I noticed the date. It’s the date when the race was originally scheduled. My bib also said January 7. Well, I guess they got everything printed in advance. I was kind of curious if my other race t-shirts had the date of the race printed on them. I didn’t look at all 24 of them, but it looked like it was about a 50/50 split. Most notably, my shirt for the 2015 Raleigh City of Oaks Marathon didn’t have the date (I know it without looking, November 1, 2015), but my 2016 New York City Marathon shirt does have the date (which I also know without looking, November 6, 2016).

(Don’t ask me the date of any of my other races. I only remember the marathons.)

The swag consisted of a coupon for a session with a Fort Mill chiropractor, an ad for a contractor who specializes in stone (Uh, OK), and a brochure for Keystone Substance Abuse Services, the charity that received the proceeds from the race. Also, we got this.

At first, I thought it was a highlighter, but when I took the cap off, I realized it’s hand sanitizer spray. I’ve gotten hand sanitizer from a race before, but never in a spray bottle that looks like a highlighter. Unusual, but still useful.

I got a mediocre night of sleep. I got up around 5:30, used the bathroom, showered, got dressed, and ate a couple of Chocolate Chip Clif Bars. I decided to wear my visor. I didn’t need it for the sun, because it was overcast and supposed to stay that way, but my visor makes an excellent sweatband, and I thought between the temperature and the fact that I was overdue for a haircut, I’d probably sweat a little bit.

It only took me 18 minutes to drive to Walter Elisha Park, and I was able to take back roads instead of getting on I-77. I got there right around 7 AM. It was 53 degrees and overcast, so I can’t complain about the weather, especially in January. (Also, the last time I ran this race, in 2015, it was 20 degrees, still the coldest weather I’ve ever run in, not just including races.)

In the two weeks leading up to the race, there were 3 somewhat significant developments. First, I started getting this pain in my lower back, almost around my tailbone. It didn’t seem to affect my running, but it made getting around somewhat difficult. Second, I got a cold. It was some coughing, sometimes bringing up phlegm, sometimes dry, and a little bit of sniffling. Anyway, that’s generally not good for running, especially the chest part. Finally, I started doing something a little different with my training. I ran my easy runs at a slower pace than usual. This is actually the correct way to run easy runs, but I had been going too fast, and wearing down my legs. I had only been doing this for 2 weeks, so I wasn’t sure if I’d see results from my change in strategy. The only thing I knew for sure is that my legs felt pretty decent in the days before the race.

Everyone was gathered in the area near the finish line, so I walked over there. I wanted to do a warm-up run, and I noticed a paved path nearby. I figured I’d follow it and see where it went. It took me all the way around the park, and was about six tenths of a mile total. I also saw some mile markers, which meant that this path was part of the course. I hadn’t realized it until I saw those signs. I ran just under two full loops for a 1.01 mile warm-up, and still had about 20 minutes before the race started.

When I went over to the starting line, I noticed there was no timing mat. That meant we’d only have Gun Time. I was disappointed, but it’s a small race, so I understand.

Eventually, they made an announcement for everyone to go to the starting line. (Side note: They really did a good job on the sound. I never had any problem hearing announcements.)

While I was waiting, a guy next to me said, “Nice shoes.” I looked down, and he was also wearing silver and blue Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16 shoes. It’s always good to see other people wearing Adrenalines.

Someone said a prayer (As far as I can tell, this race and the 2015 version are the only races where they’ve prayed, but I’ve also done some races where the sound was terrible and I may have missed it), then Joe Davis’ sister Melissa said a few words, and warned us about the hills on Mile 2 and Mile 5. Then someone sang the National Anthem. I remembered to take off my visor.

After that, they counted down and blew an air horn to start the race.

Mile 1: 9:14

This mile was pretty flat. I started out at right around a 9:00/mile pace. I didn’t think I could keep that up for 6.2 miles, so I slowed down a bit. The course went down a street next to the park, then around a block, and back to the park where we turned in. We actually passed the area where they set up the aid station at the 0.7 mile mark, but they weren’t giving out water yet. We’d be passing it again. We then did a lap around the inside of the park, which I remembered from my warm-up.

Mile 2: 9:20

We finished Mile 1 inside the park, then ran towards the back of the park. At around 1.3 miles, we passed the aid station, and this time, they were giving out water. I ended up skipping the aid station each time. It wasn’t that warm, and it was only a 10K, so I figured water would only slow me down.

The course continued on a paved path behind the park. In January, it wasn’t much to look at, but I could tell that it would probably look really nice in the spring. The path gradually went downhill.

Mile 3: 9:45

My slowest mile, because it was mostly a slow climb, with one not-so-slow climb thrown in for good measure. The course went through a neighborhood next to the park, and eventually took us to the sidewalk of the street in front of the park. At around 2.8 miles, the 5K runners split off and ran back into the park to finish, while the 10K runners kept going on the sidewalk outside the park. We passed the LED sign in front of the park, and just before I got to it, it showed an ad for the race, and I was amused.

Mile 4: 9:23

Just after we hit the 3 Mile marker, we crossed the starting line for a second time, and we repeated the course. We passed the aid station again at around 3.7 miles. Again, this mile was pretty flat.

Mile 5: 9:04

I took advantage of the downhill for my fastest full mile. We passed the aid station for the final time at 4.35 miles.

Mile 6: 9:10

Yeah, it was uphill again. Yeah, it was tough. But I was close to the end, and I pushed it.

Last .15: 1:03 (7:10/mile pace)

Interesting. The Mile 6 marker matched my Garmin exactly, but the distance from there to the finish only measured 0.15. Go figure. It helped that there was a slight downhill in this stretch. I don’t remember the last time I ran a race with a downhill like that so close to the end.

Anyway, I crossed the finish line, and they gave me a medal and a bottle of water. They had a table with a bunch of different cookies (I chose chocolate chips with M&M’s), mini-muffins (I took cinnamon), plain bagels, and bananas.

They had tablets set up so you could look up your time and print it out, and I got my official time, 57:04.2. On the one hand, that’s a new PR, and that’s great, better than I expected. On the other hand, because it was gun time, and it took me about 6 or 7 seconds to get to the starting line, I’m pretty sure I could have gotten under 57 minutes if they had chip time. Oh well.

There was one other accomplishment. I didn’t lose my car key.

It’s hard to tell in that picture, but the medal has the original January 7 date. (Looking at my old medals, the vast majority do have the race date on them.)

Speaking of pictures, the race worked with a local photographer, Genie Bunton. All of the race photos are posted on her website for free download, and you can buy prints if you want. I’ll gladly take that over getting spammed by MarathonFoto. The one drawback is that I had to go through all the photos manually to find ones with me in them, but it’s not too bad. With my white shirt, gray visor, and glasses, I’m not that hard to spot. I found two photos of me, one right before the finish that isn’t terrible but not really worth keeping, and one of me hitting the button on my watch right at the finish line, which…sigh. This isn’t my first race, I should know better by now, you have to wait a second or two after the finish to stop your watch. Oh well, not having a good finishing picture for a small 10K isn’t the end of the world.

Photo-ruining watch antics aside, I’m pretty happy with my performance. I wasn’t sure how it would go. Between my back, my cold, and my change in training, I didn’t know if I would get a PR. Well, I handled everything pretty well.

The course was completely different than in 2015. My initial thought was that this course was slightly harder. Then I went back and checked it, and the old course had more elevation gain and loss. The difference is that the previous course had a large out and back section. It’s hard to tell, but I don’t think there was any hill as steep as the biggest hill in the 2017 course, and this year, we had to climb it twice. Also, in 2015, it was 20 freaking degrees, my legs couldn’t feel anything, and so I couldn’t tell how hard the course was.

I really wish there were more 10K races in the Charlotte area. It’s a really good distance, not as painful as a 5K, but easier to recover from than longer distances. For now, I’ll just have to keep going back to Fort Mill in January when I can, and hope that the weather cooperates.

Vital Stats

Full Name of Race: Joe Davis Run For Recovery 10K (Also included a 5K race)
Location: Walter Elisha Park, Fort Mill, SC
Date and Time of Race: January 14, 2017, 8:00 AM (Originally scheduled for January 7, postponed due to weather)
Bib Number: 663
Official Finishing Time: 57:04.2, 9:11/mile. 158th of 278 Overall, 124th of 157 Men, 34th of 39 in Age Group (Male 40-44)