Embracing the Hills: Harborfest 10k Race Recap
If I had to describe the Harborfest 10k race course in one word it would be hilly. If I had to describe it in two words it would be hilly and hard. Really, I am not kidding -just check out the topographical map provided by the racing website:
This was part of the reason why I was apprehensive to sign up for the race in the first place. Even though I live in the country and hills are a part of my regular routes, this was a bit different for two reasons: 1. It is a race 2. there is really no reprieve from the uphill climb other than the quick descend downhill.
The other reason I was apprehensive to sign up for this race was that unlike the Springtime 10k I ran earlier in the year, I KNEW PEOPLE here. I have lived in this small little town my entire life and a good chunk of people I knew growing up would also be competing in this race. I am the type that likes to run alone and the thought of having other people see my ugly running face really made me nervous.
Seriously, if I even look half as good as the guy on the right when I am running, then I would be happy. Lolo Jones on the other hand looks pretty amazing and there was a Lolo doppelgänger at the 10k that I referred to as a “gazelle” in front of me the entire race- we will come back to her in a moment.
Anyway, regardless of the intimidating hills and impending “ugly runner face” that I would naturally sport, I had signed up for this bad boy and I was determined to give it my all. I started my morning around 6 am with my normal pre-race piece of gluten free toast and almond butter, a cup of coffee and glass of water. After arriving at the race destination, I chugged my Vega Pre-Workout Energizer, peed approximately four times (just to be safe) and was feeling pretty prepared.
My friend and nephew-by-soon-to-be-marriage was nice enough to join me for the 10k race so I didn’t have to struggle alone. We started off the race with a bang (literally a cannon went off) and figuratively- our first mile was at a 7:03 min pace! Oops- I definitely didn’t mean to go all out in the first mile- I felt like a cheetah! In front of the pack was this sports bra and short-shorts wearing “gazelle” that ran as fast as I have ever seen a human run before. She was pretty much out of sight within the first three quarters of a mile, kuddos to her- I can only imagine her pace!
After the first mile, I chugged along at a decent pace and was feeling pretty awesome considering I was one of the few females running amongst a group of guys. Around mile 2.something a girl came flying past at an effortlessly fast speed. I can’t lie- it was kind of annoying, she didn’t even look like she was trying that hard!
The competitor in me tried to take a quick look at her bib to see how old she was just to check if we were in the same age group but she was too quick and within 30 seconds she was too far ahead for me to contemplate trying to catch up.
When my GPS app notified me that I had reached mile 3 at approximately 22 minutes and change, I knew I was on track for a PR if I could maintain my speed. Thankfully mile 4.5 or so was all downhill, so I was able to gain some momentum. Unfortunately the 5th mile was a pain in the butt and went gradually uphill. Mile 6 was not much better but a bit flatter. I was just really tired at this point from giving it my all and wanted to be done. After the 6th mile I rounded to the corner and could see the finish line so I just sprinted with all I had left in me. If my “ugly running face” hadn’t been obvious to all my fellow runners and water station volunteers during the race, it certainly was now in front of all the finish line spectators.
Thankfully my friend, Sara, who ran the 5k was nice enough to be waiting for me at the finish line with a bottle of water. Literally, I don’t know what I would have done if she wasn’t there waiting for me- she is a great friend and a true godsend! We stuck around a while for the awards to be announced and lo and behold I placed! I ended up placing 2nd in my age group (even though I was hoping for 1st) but a gazelle and a girl with an invisible jet-pack are hard to beat!
I still don’t know my official time but I do know for sure I was under the 48 minute mark & this is what I came up with according to my GPS app. Even if I am off by a few seconds, this is still a 10k PR for me! My soon-to-be-nephew also placed 1st in his age group so a huge congrats goes out to him too! I couldn’t have maintained this pace without his support!
*I wrote this before the race results were posted- my official time was apparently 47:58- bit of a discrepancy from my GPS but it’s under 48 so that’s all that matters!*
Even though this was a challenging & tough course, I am still happy that I signed up and gave it my all. The weather and conditions couldn’t have been better and my success really validated all the effort and training I have put into running so far this season. The next race I have on calendar is the Vino & the Beasts 5k Obstacle Course in the Finger Lakes. While still challenging, it is more fun than anything and I am really looking forward to it!
Did you race this weekend? What is the most challenging race you’ve run?