A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Race recap: Seward Optimist Club Freedom Run 10K

on July 7, 2014

For some crazy reason, I decided I wanted to ring in my 36th year by running a race first thing in the morning. Happily, there was a 10K scheduled in the small town of Seward, which we’d planned on visiting for their Fourth of July festival. The long run on my training plan last week was 6 miles, so this seemed like a perfect way to kill two birds with one stone.

It was ever so slightly nerve wracking to get to the race Friday morning. They didn’t offer packet pick up until the morning of the race, starting at 6 am for a 7 am race.  I got up, quietly got dressed and headed down to our hotel lobby for breakfast. I’d brought my usual homemade oatmeal packets (quick oats, PB2, splenda) and used the hot water down in the lobby coffee station. There were also bananas down in the hotel continental breakfast, so I was set with my usual pre-run breakfast. I then headed out to the park that served as the race starting point and realized that thanks to the abysmal data signal for AT&T smart phones in this little town, my phone could not direct me to the race start! Thank goodness it isn’t a very big town and I had pulled up directions on my computer earlier in the week, so I was able to figure out how to get there. Whew.

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I walked over to get my number and shirt, then back to drop the shirt in the car and get my timing chip on my shoe. While this was a tiny little race, it was at least chip timed. I enjoyed the small town feel of the race, but thanks to checking out prior years’ finishing times, I knew the people who showed up this early for a small town race were fast, serious runners!

Small town race charm :)

Small town race charm 🙂

The weather was absolutely perfect – 60s and low humidity – so I was getting excited about getting a nice shiny new PR for my birthday. I was feeling great and having an updated 10K time to submit to RunDisney for corral placement at Star Wars would be nice. I was feeling very optimistic until the race director starting talking about how it was the same course as last year, going “across the train tracks and then down the gravel road.” I’ll admit, the train tracks part is curious to me – do they time the race between scheduled train crossings? I dearly hope so. That would seriously throw off your time. 🙂 I’ve never run on gravel for any length of time, so that part worried a bit but I decided to stick to my plan: run by how I feel for the first 2 miles, use my 3 minute run:30 second walk intervals for the middle two miles and for the last 2 miles, I could keep doing the walk breaks if I needed/wanted them, but I had to “pay” for them by doing a 30 second “pick up” in pace before the walk interval. I also wanted to finish STRONG. I’m happy to say, I did meet all of those goals.

We started the race on time, which was great, and very quickly I realized that in this particular pack, I was going to definitely be a back of the pack runner. This was a fast crowd! It was a gorgeous morning to run and I ran the first mile and a half without a walk break because I was feeling so good. I was very careful crossing the train tracks – boy could those have been a disaster if you weren’t paying attention! Definitely rough country track crossing out there.

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It wasn’t long before a) I started smelling the cows – looking at farmland is gorgeous; smelling it – not so much and b) we came to the gravel part of the road. I’d estimate at least 2 miles in the middle were gravel, which was a significant chunk of the race. It was frustrating because I was either on loose gravel or the soft sandy stuff on the edge of the road with rare patches of nice packed soil. That definitely slowed me down quite a bit but I tried to focus on my footing and just stick to my planned intervals.

Gravel - not my favorite

Gravel – not my favorite

On the plus side, it was gently sloping in terms of hills and I got to feel “speedy” again at the end thanks to returning to the asphalt. Wow was a I grateful for the that! I passed another city dweller as we got back on the asphalt and we both laughed at ourselves for being unused to the country roads.

Don't I have the best hubby? Loved seeing this when I got my phone out to take a pic!

Don’t I have the best hubby? Loved seeing this when I got my phone out to take a pic!

I got a little conflicted at the end as there was a much older man that had been running just ahead of me for the last half of the race. I was a few hundred behind him for the last 3 miles and admired his steady, unflagging stride. He was 71 and I was so impressed that he was out there doing this (even more impressed that he was 3/3 in his age group – there were two speedy older gentlemen who finished ahead of him)! The conflict came from my goal of finishing strong: I really wanted to pick up my pace for the last quarter mile but felt bad passing this lovely, inspiring gentlemen so near the finish line. I especially felt bad about it as we got closer to the finish and people were applauding – him I’m assuming, not little old me. I decided to stick to my goal and went ahead past him and as we came through the finishing chute at the end, he congratulated me on finishing so strongly so I’m glad he understood at least. 🙂 My final finishing time was 1:06:45, which I was very happy with given the road conditions.

It got lonely out there at the end!

It got lonely out there at the end!

As I sit here writing this race recap, I am pleasantly surprised to discover this was a bigger PR than I realized – my only other 10K (Omaha marathon weekend in September 2013) was finished in 1:08:01, not 1:07 like I thought, so a 1:16 improvement is better than I thought I’d gotten! I’m very happy with that, given the road conditions. I’m not sure that this is enough of a PR to worry about updating with RunDisney for my corral placement for StarWars, but it gives me hope for a bigger improvement in the 10 mile and third 10K race I have on my “maybe” list for fall races before the half marathon. Woo hoo!

Do you like to run small races? I definitely enjoyed the lack of a crowd, in that there was no jostling, churning “washing machine” at the beginning like you can experience in bigger races. Also being a small speedy crowd, I wasn’t weaving around a lot of walkers or strollers at the very beginning, so I felt like I got a reasonable start based on the pace I wanted. Thankfully, I’d also self-seeded myself well enough that I wasn’t in anyone else’s way myself. I definitely recommend looking up the prior race times when you’re running a race that’s new to you so you have an idea what to expect in terms of the crowd pace. I came into this knowing I’d be in the back of the pack, even at PR pace for me, so that helped me know where to place myself at the starting line and helped me to avoid panicking when I was in those stretches of road where I felt like it was just me and no other runners anywhere nearby. Had I not known this was a fast crowd, I might have felt discouraged by my performance rather in comparison with everyone else rather than focusing on my running like I should have. Do you check out the prior race paces when you’re running a new race?

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9 responses to “Race recap: Seward Optimist Club Freedom Run 10K

  1. Wow awesome race and congrats on the PR!

  2. Great job!! That text from your husband is so sweet :0) I don’t usually check previous years finishing times, but it is a great idea to get an idea of self-seeding in the crowd. As for smaller, local races, I love them. There is one that I run every year (it was my very first race and 10K) in November around my birthday!

  3. Kristin says:

    Way to go! What a great PR!! You’re awesome!! I’m so proud of you!! Happy Birthday!! Happy Birthday!! XOXO!!

  4. […] studying the course and running on different surfaces. I got burned on both of those issues in my most recent 10K and definitely don’t want to have that issue again since I’m looking for a new PR in Des […]

  5. […] a 10K on my birthday  Done! And with a bigger PR than I expected, particularly impressive given my difficulties with the gravel […]

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