My very first race was a road 10k. I ran the Jan Peek 10k in 2009, and fell head over heels in love with running. It was a special race because it was held in my hometown in New York state, and was one of dad's favorite races when he used to run. I crossed the finish in 53:00 which was good enough for 2nd place in my age group.
Unfortunately, the Jan Peek was cancelled after the 2011 race, and I've put 10k's on the back burner ever since.
This year, I searched high and low for a local 10k in Philadelphia and finally found the 32nd annual NERRC 10k which took place on Sunday, March 2nd. The course is out and back on the Kelly Drive bike path in Philadelphia, starting at Lloyd Hall on Boathouse Row. This is quite likely the most popular spot to run in Philly, so I am intimately familiar with the course.
The BEST part of this race was the 10 AM start time. So far, this is the earliest race I've run in 2014!I got to Lloyd Hall around 9:30 to pick up my bib and long sleeve t-shirt. I was pre-registered, and at $25, this race was a great deal.
It was a perfect morning for a race. The temperature hovered around 38 degrees, with barely any wind. Around 9:55, the race director gave the 164 participants a little pep talk in the beginning about the course as we placed ourselves at the start. I forced myself to start closer to the front than ever before, which I knew would help me push the pace. The small size and low-key vibe of this race reminded me of the trail community, which was a huge plus in my book.
After the race director blew the horn, I fell into a quick, but comfortable pace. My legs felt fresh and springy after resting for five days prior to the race thanks to a really nasty cold. There were three clocks along the out and back course, which helped keep the pace since I did not wear a Garmin.
I hit the first clock (mile 1) at 7:50 and was pleasantly surprised by my pace. My goal was to beat my PR of 53:00 and I knew that I could do it based on my tempo and speedwork paces this winter. Maintaining a 7:50 pace would put me well under that goal.
Soon after, I noticed I had been running next to the same guy the whole race, and we matched nearly stride for stride. In true trail running fashion, I started chatting with him even though I was definitely running faster than my conversational pace. I found out his name was Joe, and he was training for the Broad Street Run 10 Miler, which I'm also running. Once we started talking, the miles flew by and we reached the turnaround point (5k, mile 3.1) at around 24:25.
Things got harder around mile 4. I knew we still had more than two miles to go, and was finding it difficult to chat. So instead, I focused on my breathing, which was labored because I was still dealing with the remnants of my nasty cold. I pressed on, feeling the burn in my legs and lungs. Finally, we reached the third clock, which was the same one as mile 1, but was now mile 5.2.
When I saw that the clock read 41:xx I turned to Joe and said "let's break 50 minutes!" From there it felt like a sprint to the finish, though realistically we ran about a 7:20 final mile.
I crossed the finish line in 48:39, taking over 4 minutes off my previous PR of 53:00. I finished 9th woman, and 5th in my age group. I definitely left everything out on the course, and I don't think I could have pushed any harder than I did in the final mile.
I'm already on the lookout for another road 10k. It's definitely become one of my favorite racing distances, and I'm really looking forward to the Tyler Trail 10k coming up on April 5th!