This race was actually my "anniversary" race. I ran my first mile since high school last year during the first mile of the 4 miler section. I quickly turned to walking with some occasional jogging after that first mile but it was that event that started it all for me. Ever since the 4 miler last year I have been immersed in running, training and racing. I have seen huge improvements over the past twelve months (from that 11:11 pace at last years 4 miler I have seen race paces as good as 7:39). Because of the meaning this race has for me I really wanted to run it and run it well. That is why I joined a 10 miler training group at the end of July and that it why, when three weeks ago, my knee started to hurt that I was stricken with fear and worry. The knee pain got so bad that I have only run a handful of short runs in the two weeks leading up to the 10 miler. The few days before I was unsure whether I would be running at all.
But I'm strong (read that 'stubborn') and I showed up on race day, downed 4 ibuprofen and joined the ranks crammed in elbow to elbow at the start line. The first mile was fine, it is mostly downhill (the race is the 10 miles off continuos uphill and downhill) and I kept a steady if not fast pace. Then at 1.16 the knee started up, then at 1.5 the other knee started to complain. By two miles both knees were hurting and I was seriously contemplating walking. I was crying in my head and thinking only about my knees. Finally, I told myself to change to positive thoughts or drop out of the race. I knew that negative talk, even if only to myself, was going to make the next 8 miles even more difficult than my knees were already making it. I tried to speed up but the knees and the friction caused by my IT bands were making it rather impossible. Feeling like my training may have all been in vain I pushed on. I told myself if I got to the five mile mark in 40 minutes I could walk. I didn't. It was 41:33. I continued to run through the park and decided to look for my sister, once I found her coming in the other direction I would allow myself a walk. I passed her coming into my sixth mile. I decided to keep pushing a little further and thus started counting runners running the opposite direction (the 10 miler is a loop and these people were behind me as I ran back to the start/finish line). At reaching 7 miles at 1 hour I told myself to keep running. Having already beaten my knees up for an hour I figured another half hour of running couldn't do that much more harm. At 7.5 miles I had an especially bad bout with my right knee that had me wincing in pain and doing a funny shuffle run. I again contemplated walking, but fought through again. Up ahead, at 8 miles, was the famous "Farm Basket Hill" 1.5 miles of all uphill taking you into the home stretch. Having run that hill at least half a dozen times in training I wanted to show off my ability on the hill, make my training count for something. I braced myself and headed uphill into the direct sunlight and towards my reward, the finish line. I did the hill well, but not great. I did pass a few people coming up the hill but try as I might I couldn't break 8 minutes on the hill. It was as bumming as my knee pain was. Finally, after what felt like far more than 10 miles, I saw the finish banner and line up ahead. Unlike the VA Beach Half I was able to kick it up, having grown used to running on my painful knees, I sprinted in like I am accustom to, and heard the announcers recognize my effort to cross which made the moment, if only a little bit, all the more rewarding.
I finished the 10 miler running. I didn't meet my goals of sub 80 or even of a 82. But I ran on knees that begged nothing more than me to walk making this by far my hardest race ever. From this point I am focusing on recovery. I start back running today with a 2 mile run and will work up from there, but this time I am going to listen to my knees. They were so angry they made it tough to walk around for most of the weekend.
My overall results:
1:24:54 (8:29 pace)
14th in age division