Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.
There’s always something in a race. Blisters. Wind. Digestive issues. Chaffing. Someone sitting on you. Your shoe coming untied. Taking a wrong turn.
Two weeks ago at the Bobby Doyle 5 Miler it was the sweltering heat and high humidity.
Today at the New Hampshire 10 Miler, it was the hills.
The featured image for this post is a graph displaying the elevation profile as a function of distance and my inner thoughts at each mile marker, as told by emojis.
I would not be the least bit surprised if every single one of the above pictured facial expressions can legitimately be seen on my face on the photos taken by the plethora of photographers that were located throughout the race.
In the Race Day Info email that was sent out to all the competitors yesterday, the following line was included:
“Be advised there are some challenging hills en route!”
Now, I am no wimp when it comes to hills. In high school, it was on the hills where I usually broke my competitors (something I would often reminiscence about during college races on pancake-flat courses). Heck, after living in Ithaca for 4.5 years, I basically minored in hill-running. So when I saw that warning in the email, I wasn’t too concerned.
The 15K I ran back in April had a lot of rolling-hills, and I actually really enjoyed running over them. For this race, one of almost equal distance (10 miles vs. 9.32 miles), I was looking forward to once again having some hills dispersed throughout to help keep me in the moment and to break up the race.
The first hill that came at the 2 mile mark was the type of hill I was expecting. Sure, it took a bit of extra effort to get over, but by the time I was cresting it, I was back in my rhythm running smooth.
It was the hill that began at the 4 mile mark where I first thought I might be in trouble. It just kept going up and up and up. I was definitely starting to tire, as evident by the first mile split over 6:00, but I was able to stay relatively calm. The fact that I had John running by my side and that we were closing in hard on the 2nd female overall helped keep me focused.
But at the 6 mile mark, John began his 4 mile tempo and left me. And, even though we then had a big downhill, it was too steep to allow me to relax. Before I knew it, I was once again climbing another mammoth hill in the 8th mile. Thankfully the downhill that followed was more gradual, and I was able to gather myself and actually get rolling again in the 9th mile.
The last hill that came in the final mile was tough – there was definitely a moment just before I reached the top where I was barely moving – but the scent of the finish line got me through. I must admit, as much as I disliked having a significant hill in the last mile of the race, the downhill it provided right after made for a fast and fun finish 🙂
My plan going into this race was to run a nice and even steady state pace for the first 6 miles, and then pick it up for the remaining 4. Although the hills threw a bit of a wrench into this plan, I still consider my overall effort to be a success. I negative split my two 5 mile segments – 29:56 to 29:34 – and I was once again able to be controlled early on.
All in all, it was a great race and a great day. Huge thanks to John for helping me stay relaxed and composed those first 6 miles – I couldn’t have done it without you 🙂
Tonight we will be chilling, eating good food and drinking cold beer. Tomorrow we’ll probably be doing the dead man’s crawl. But come Monday morning, we’ll be back on our grind.