Race: Bluegrass 10,000
Place: Lexington, Kentucky
Date: July 4, 2018
It seems like this race has become the July 4th tradition for the moment, as this is the second year in a row that I have run it. I actually felt like I was in good shape leading into this race, but you might note (had you gone back to look at last year’s Bluegrass 10,000 race review) that this was run 2 minutes slower.
And that, friends, seems to be the story of my life this year. Big effort with no payoff.
I know…not every race can be a PR…but guess what? I haven’t had a PR in any distance since either 2013 or 2014. They all still stand. None have fallen and these days I’m starting to come to the realization that they just might never be beaten.
And I’m not exactly okay with that.
But, that’s a rant for another post. Going into the Bluegrass 10,000, I was aware that this was not to be treated as a goal race, nor was I to run it like one. In fact, my coach’s specific instructions was to stick with the 8 minute pacer for the first part of the race (that part is the uphill part) and then run it in at the end. It seemed like a good plan of action, especially since the heat and humidity going into the July 4th holiday was insane. We were in heat advisories and warnings. Physical activity in such conditions was pretty much frowned upon. But this is basically a 42 year tradition in Lexington.
Adjust goals and plans and roll with it.
My friend, Melissa, was lining up as a pacer that morning, so she had to be in Lexington at some ungodly time of the morning to get her Pacer shirt, her pace stick, and instructions from Linda (our coach). Last year, we all rode down together and then spent the afternoon around Lexington…so we did the same this time around. Just at an earlier hour in the morning.
She and her husband headed our way before the crack of dawn that morning. En route, I got a text message regarding Sharpie markers. She wanted to write the paces on her wrist. So, Cathy went back up to the apartment and returned just as they were pulling into the complex to pick us up. We got into the car, said good morning, and began our journey down to Lexington, Kentucky.
The drive down was filled with conversation with our upcoming journeys/travels (we’re like travel BFFs now too). We hashed out a few things, discussed options, and just overall got excited about it. When we got into Lexington, Melissa made her way to the parking lot that Linda directed her to park in. We pulled up in a shady spot (this was the best parking spot, ever!) and piled out of the car. Melissa needed to meet up with Linda, so she and I hustled that way, me toting my Owyn Vanilla Protein Shake to have as fuel since I had nothing else with me for that and breakfast at 4 am wasn’t happening.
We found Linda and got our race packets and shirts sorted. Melissa was handed her pacer tank and she changed into that and went to stand with the group of pacers for the official photo!
The start of the race was still a little while off, so we just sort of stood around and talked. Cathy got Melissa taped to help with the Achilles pain she had been dealing with and she ran off to get in the line for the bathroom. Linda grabbed her pace stick to stand in the road so people aiming for that pace could start lining up. Cathy and I moved further up and she left me with, as the plan said, the 8 minute/mile pacer.
But this is where it got a little crazy. Yes. Before the start. I’m minding my own business and doing a few dynamic warm-up moves when some women slid in just ahead of me. I heard them call a friend over and say, “We’re not running an 8 minute mile, but if we start back there, we’ll get boxed in.”
And this is the downside of not having a good corral system because I ended up moving further ahead of the pacer just to be ahead of people who had that mindset. The National Anthem was sung beautifully and I squeezed into a spot and got ready for the cannon fire to send us off. And as we made our way to the start line…the crowd began to do that slow jog thing until the start mat was there. And as I went to hit the button on my Garmin to start it, the person directly in front of me stopped the little shuffle and immediately began to walk. I ducked around them without running into them, only to have this happen four more times. I was beyond frustrated. I did manage a small wave at Cathy as I passed by…but then I needed to focus because the 8 minute pacer took off and I was getting left behind.
The street was crowded so my dodging and weaving to try to catch back up to the pacer I was supposed to hang with. It was chaotic and stressful…but I caught up…and managed to weave through the first few turns that happen within the first mile of the race. I pulled slightly ahead and stayed there, figuring on the hill that I would be overtaken (wow, do I have confidence in myself or what? HA!). That being said, I had said I would use the water stops in this race instead of carrying water with me. I normally don’t during a 10K, but with the heat advisories in effect, I had considered it. Guess what. I came up a hill and rounded a corner, and totally didn’t see the first water stop until I was already past it. I decided then I would do my best not to miss another one.
Herein was the beginning of the climb. From about Mile 1.25 through 2.88…you’re on a steady uphill. I took it for what it was…a hill…and I’m trying to get more comfortable on hills. So, I just pushed it. If there were water stops…I took a sip and poured the rest over my head. It was all about trying to stay cool. I remember, at one point, thinking, “Had I run the Buffalo Chase 5K, I’d be almost done.” That was the state of mind I was in at this point. And it was early. This climb did eventually lead into a short downhill to the turn around point…which meant…uphill to start going into Mile 4. I kept on with my sip and pour water when it came to staying hydrated and cool. It was working, despite knowing my pace wasn’t what I had hoped it would be.
That being said, heading into Mile 5…everything is downhill. So that’s a nice way to finish up. I hit the last water stop heading into the finish and immediately poured water over my head. My immediate thought was, “I should have drank some of that first.” But I was close enough to the finish that I didn’t let it weigh on me too much. I ran past the start point and headed down to the finish line. I felt like I couldn’t push myself any harder and felt relieved to cross the finish line and be done with it.
I snagged a couple bottles of water and slowly meandered out of the finisher’s chute to go and find Cathy, who was sitting on the bleachers near the finish line. We were going to cheer in people and then, of course, cheer in Melissa as she led her pace group to their finish. It was hot and I was a sweaty mess, so I stood for much of in the shade until Melissa was due to arrive.
We spotted her and cheered loudly. She was eagerly encouraging a little girl to cross the finish line ahead of her. It was super amazing and I think that finish really made her race.
She hung out in the finisher’s chute with the other pacers…and I tried to get back in there, but was denied. It’s fine. The signs said “No Re-Entry,” so I didn’t fight it. I just went and sat on a bench until they made their way out. We found a table to sit for a moment, was given some free roasted corn, and then made the hike back to the car.
Linda met up with us again there, where I handed her the jar of jam that I had brought for her (I made some homemade blueberry jam with some local blueberries a friend picked for me). We stood around and talked for a little bit, but then she went to get on the road and we went to head to Half Price Books, change, shop, and then head to lunch at Bella Notte.
For those of you keeping score…yes…I ordered what I always order. A House Salad and the Gluten Free Pasta Arrabiata, as always. And it was super delicious. We stopped off at one more Half Price Books before heading home for the day to get the rest of the stuff accomplished on a Wednesday afternoon before returning to work the following morning. Holiday over.
So, the official results of the Bluegrass 10,000 are that I finished in 48:47…once again in humid conditions…once again with walk breaks at the water stops. Pure survival there. I’d really like to make my 10K PR topple one day…but this was a good 4 minutes slower so I’m not feeling too confident about that happening anytime soon. I was 343/2877 finishers overall. I was the 59/1435 female finishers. And I was 5/242 in my age division. Ironically, I was 5th (out of a slightly smaller group) last year too. Weird. I mean, I’ll take it.