This year, I had no such grand goals for this race. I wanted to go out and have a good time on what I knew would be a well supported course and that’s what I did. The Omaha Running Club puts on consistently good events, with great volunteers and good organization. This race was no exception.
Packet pick up was Friday afternoon at the running store near the race start and O always loves going into that store. He loves the track they have around the store for testing shoes or testing your super speed if you happen to be a four year old boy. 🙂 Last year, in addition to the race tee, we got socks with the race logo on them. This year, we got a water bottle with built in mister – perfect for summer running! I can’t wait to try it out.
The race started at 7 am this year, rather than 8:30 like last year, which was good in terms of less crowding on the path (not a closed course) and weather, as this year’s race was a little earlier and potentially hotter. Despite the fact that it was August, it wasn’t too hot and was actually a little misty and on the verge of rain, which made for a interesting decision process when I was debating a) do I even want to run this, knowing I’ll be nowhere near last year’s pace and b) do I really want to run 10 miles in the rain? Ultimately, I headed out with the goal of treating it as a training run. I set my interval timer for 1 minute runs with 30 second walks (as opposed to last year’s 3 min/30 sec intervals) and lined up near the back of the pack. It looked like a much smaller pack this year than last year – possibly the earlier start, both in terms of 7 am and August rather than September?
It definitely wasn’t crowded at all and I enjoyed settling into my groove in the back of the pack. By mile 3, I was steadily passing people and moving up in the pack. The run definitely felt better as I went along, with none of the knee pain that had been bothering me all week. I didn’t carry any water or anything as there are water stops nicely spaced the course and even Gu distribution around mile 6.
Around mile 3, I heard one woman I’d passed behind me say “Oh no, don’t start running again” as my interval timer went off. We chatted for a second and she explained that she’d been using my lovely Sparkle Skirt as her goal to try to catch and pass me. I laughed and told her the guy in the bright orange shirt in front of was my target for now. I love small races! She was lovely (but no, she didn’t get past me).
I do think having this race earlier was helpful in terms of crowding. Last year, there were several near misses with bicycles but this year the only time I saw that was when I had to physically grab a woman running on the left side of the path to get her attention so a bike could pass. The guy had called out several times but she couldn’t hear over her headphones, I guess, or was just ignoring him.
My goal for the race was to a) not get passed and b) stick to my intervals through the whole thing. I didn’t really have an overall time goal (until I got the finish line anyway). I felt good enough by mile 8.5 that I decided to finish it out with longer run intervals and shifted to 2:30 run/30 second walks. Even before that shift, my miles had been getting steadily faster, which is always nice to see.
Thanks to the path we run on, you can see the finish line for about a quarter of a mile before you reach it. I glanced at my watch and realized I was going to be able to finish below 2 hours if I pushed it, which was much faster than I was anticipating. As I approached the finish line, I could see that I was close and gunned it up the hill (one downside to this race – you finish running UP a grassy hill – small but evil at the end). It felt great to finish, even if my guys weren’t there to cheer me on. Another nice thing about Omaha Running Club events, though, is that there are always faster finishers who hang around the finish line to cheer the back of the pack in. I got my medal and walked over for my banana and granola bar, before returning to cheer in some of the final finishers.
Ultimately, I finished much slower than last year, but I was pleasantly surprised with my time and my mental effort in terms of sticking with it. I had a great time on that run! It was also my fastest long run in MONTHS. I think taking the pressure off, with everything else I have going on this month with the lupus and everything else, is really helping me to enjoy running right now despite the lingering summer. My final finishing time was 1:59:34, a pace just below 12 minute miles. I’ll definitely come back to run this every year if I can – great distance and a great racing group!
Do you have local races you run every year? Or even not so local races you keep coming back to?