Saturday, January 22, 2011

Village to Village 10K: Race Report

In a recurring theme of the past SEVERAL weeks, I have thought of multiple blog entries and even started a few but between 60+ hour work weeks (not counting commute or even time spent working at home in the evening), half-marathon "training", limited social interaction--including time spent with Matt, and minimal sleep, there has been ZERO time for anything else. All that being said, with work closing in around 70 hours over the past week and averaging 4-5 hours of sleep a night, I wasn't expecting much from this race. In fact, I was worried about embarrassing myself. We already knew I wasn't planning on making this a PR attempt and despite already being registered I almost didn't get out of bed on Saturday morning for fear of completely bonking out on the course from sheer exhaustion.

Backing up, I picked up my race packet Friday afternoon at Fleet Feet and was stoked to find a cool t-shirt and a loaded goodie bag.

You can't really tell in the pic but the "V"s are actually sparkly and it's a nice quality tech fabric. Loot included: Packet of handwarmers, Decent size sample of Community Coffee plus 2 coupons for $2 off next purchase, sample of Biofreeze, sample of "Elta MD" sunscreen, $5 coupon off sushi at Maki Fresh (yummy), $1 coupon off frozen yogurt at 32* yogurt bar, Coupon for a free class at Grand Jete --I am looking forward to trying this!, 20% off Women's only bootcamp (I am going back to bootcamp in the 'off season'), the requisite flyers for upcoming race and The MOST RANDOM goodie bag sample I have EVER received: sample of "Tiramani" perfume! What is the weirdest thing you have ever received in a race goodie bag?

Matt and I had a yummy dinner at Firebird's (I LOVE their shrimp and strawberry salad), came home and watched "The Town" on Netflix and I settled in to SLEEP.

The race had an 8:00 start and the over achiever in me thought I might go out a little early and log an extra mile or two to help me warm up. However, it was CHILLY (around 27 degrees) and I did not want to get out of bed when the alarm went off at 6. I knowingly hit snooze after snooze and finally at 7:10 I decided it might be wise to get up! (How many of you are freaking out at this thought?) I think you know you are getting too comfortable at this when you are not even out of bed an hour before the start! I was out the door by 7:25, banana and half of a (plain) whole wheat bagel in hand to eat on the way there. Managed to score an awesome parking spot at 7:40, collected my stuff and started jogging to the start. About halfway there, I realized I had left my iPod in my car, so I jogged back and collected it. I was wearing my longer running tights due to the cold and realized at this point that they were falling down from being too large. Not good but really had no other options at this point; I hoped that once I started to sweat they might stick in place and if I had to spend the majority of the race pulling them up, so be it.

There was a good crowd (I've read approx 1000 runners) and the race director thoughtfully had heaters placed around the parking lot for people to stay warm. Business had also opened their doors for runners to get out of the cold. Knowing I didn't have long to start I actually stayed away b/c I think it's easier to acclimate by staying in the elements prior to race start so that it's not a shock to the system.

Everyone started making their way to the start "line" and I positioned myself in the middle of pack. People were especially chatty this morning and based on observation I seemed to be around people of similar pace. Suddenly the crowd started to move forward and those around me were equally surprised. Historically this race has not been chip timed but this year they moved to bib-timing which I am not familiar with (chip is a strip on the back of the bib). I knew where the start was supposed to be according to the course map (started at an intersection) but when I got there, there was no timing mat. A bit concerned about how this timing was going to work, I started to Garmin and off we went.

The chattiness did not last long as we were faced with this:
This is the first 1.4 of the race. You actually start climbing this monster and when you think you are at the top you turn left and keep climbing. I actually looked at the girl next to me and said "Oh no". She smirked and rolled her eyes and at that point it was ON. I really and truly believe it is so important to run your own race and not get caught up in other people's paces or games and I remind myself this often during races if I feel like I am thinking negatively, but as I watched her blond hair pull away from me, I resolved that I WOULD beat her in the end.

The reviews I have read of the race described the first half of the course as "brutal" and I would have to agree. Up, up, up with a short downhill here or there followed by another climb. After the 5K mark it seemed to flatten out a little bit but as suspected, Vulcan has NOTHING on this course. The course is largely through residential neighborhoods and the mansions are just gorgeous. At one point, there was this HUGE mansion on top of a hill with some intricate glasswork and someone behind me said "Oh look...a church" and her friend responded with..."No that's someone's house" to which the reply was "Oh shit" LOL The race is actually in Mountain Brook which you may be familiar with because of the Natalee Holloway Story. The police a great job of blocking intersections and directing traffic flow and the few spectators that were out were great...friendly and cheering for everyone. I made sure to say good morning to each of them and to thank them for coming out. Fluid stations at miles 2 and 4 but since I was carrying my handheld I didn't partake. I did, however, say a general thank you as I ran through. It amazes me to see so many runners around me NOT speak to or thank anyone (I run one earbud out so I can hear what is going on). We all know how important that these things are to us and I'm not intending to get on a soapbox but we can all muster a thank you now and again. Have you thanked your volunteers and spectators lately?

Throughout the race I kept looking down to see "10s" and even "9s" and I was unbelievably ecstatic but realistic. I am happy to report that I did pass blondie at 2.5 never to see her again and there were a few other people that were running around me during the race that I vowed to pick off when the time was right. (Nothing rude, just a personal goal to keep me going as I was tired and COLD). I realized at 5.5 I was definitely going to PR unless the wheels fell off and after seeing the mile 6 sign (when my Garmin read 5.9) I kicked it in with everything I had left. Turns out we had a little more than .2 to go as Garmin read 6.26 when I crossed the mat and then I forgot to turn off my watch(!) as I was so relieved to have given it my all and PR-ed despite personal obstacles and course conditions. It was only after accepting my rose, picking up a bottle of water and stepping aside to drink did I realize I had not turned off my Garmin! I fumbled for the was probably 30-60 seconds after it was all said and done. Aughhh!!

Long stemmed roses were given to all of the finishers when we crossed

They had a huge post-race party in the parking lot area of one of the supermarkets in Mountain Brook village: bottled water, Gatorade/G2, Coffee, beer, Krispy Kreme donuts, pastries from a local bakery, bagels, bananas, orange slices, pizza(!), minestrone soup, massages, a DJ and other vendors offering giveaways, etc. I actually don't do well with solid foods after a run and was really craving a chai latte anyway, so I just grabbed water, G2 and orange slice before heading back to my car and subsequently, Starbucks. Did not stick around for awards and have still not seen final results posted anywhere but again, in the reviews on active it looks like we are dealing with a clock/gun start with a chip finish which I think is CRAP and if this is true, definitely needs to be FIXED for next year.

I don't usually talk about times on here b/c I compete not for AG awards but against myself but I am proud to see the improvement and KNOW in my heart that this is a PR. I have no reason to lie!

For fun (and proof), let's compare against Vulcan:

Vulcan (11/6/10) V2V (1/22/11)
Mile 1 11:07 11:35
Mile 2 11:02 10:55
Mile 3 11:12 10:11
Mile 4 11:08 10:38
Mile 5 10:46 10:41
Mile 6 10:51 10:22
".2" 2:40 (9:38 pace for .28) 2:24 (9:17 pace for .26), if you take off a conservative 30 seconds that's 1:54 for .26 (7:18)
Net time 1:08:43 1:06:16-1:06:46

Anyone else struggle with funky or inaccurate timing from races?


  1. Yay! Awesome job! That course does look brutal. Oh my! I would have my ass handed to me on it!

    Happy you passed Blondie

    I ran a race like that this summer - gun start, chip timed. I thought it was BS.

    What did you think of The Town? We are still wanting to get it from Netflix.

  2. Thanks! I mean if you're going to chip time then have a starting mat (how much extra could that really cost?) if not, then don't bother!

    I wish I could give you an accurate review of The Town but I dozed off during the middle of it :-/ I saw the first 20 minutes, fell asleep and then saw the last hour. I don't think it's a reflection of the movie but I was really THAT TIRED. Matt stayed awake and engaged during the entire thing and liked it. I was actually going to go back and watch the 1st half but Matt had already put it in the mail by the time I got home from V2V.

  3. Wow - that was a broooootal start!
    Great job on the PR!!