SWAG: Long sleeve tech shirt and a virtual bag. I am not really a big fan of virtual bags, but there was some good deals on upcoming races and products. I am more of paper person. I like to be able to hold the coupon in my hand, don’t ask me why but it makes it more real to me.
COURSE: 10K- The course is a very fast course. There are only really 3 up hills in the race and 2 of them are in the first mile. After mile 1 it is all downhill or flat until mile 4 when you hit the third and final hill on Blvd. of the allies. People love to make this hill out to be more than what it really is, it is a gradual hill rather than a straight up and down. Mile 5 is the peak of the hill and from here to the finish it is all downhill.
MY RACE EXPERIENCE: This year I decided to try something new and drive to the finish area in town and take the shuttle to the starting line. I wasn’t sure what to expect so I arrived early. You had to enter a fenced off section and then were told where to stand. I had to sit on a wall since there was still 5K people running late and loading the last buses. The 10K bus was supposed to start shuttling people at 7:15 but didn’t end up starting until 7:30. I was on the first bus and the line was pretty long for people waiting that had come later. I arrived at the starting line just a bit after 8 and was surprised that the shuttle system seemed to go off without a hitch. As soon as I got to the starting area I went straight to the Port-O-Potty because I know from previous years that the lines will get ridiculously long. The starting line bathroom is one thing I hate about this race. I counted 44 total bathrooms for the 8000 plus runners. That is 181 people per bathroom if everyone is there at the same time. A race this big I think they should have a bit more restrooms. This year was the first year the race used the Steel City Road Runners to pace the race, so at the start you could stand where you thought what pace you would run. I started just behind the 7:30 pace group, but as the race got closer to the start it seemed like people who were arriving late on the shuttles just jumped in and stood toward the front.
I ran into one of my friends at the starting line and we both were planning on running the race in 45 minutes. As the gun sounded I was stuck behind a group of ladies that had no business being that close to the front. My friend was able to get around and get some room, I decided to just hang back and see if I could find some room in the first mile. As I passed the first mile marker my time was in the 9 minutes, I was discouraged but I thought that maybe I could make it up on the downhill that is mile 2. I was able to get some room but I still would have had to do a lot of weaving in and out to get around the crowd. As I passed mile 2 my times was just over 18 minutes and at this point I decided to just get into a good pace and put my body of cruise control. I knew 45 minutes was going to be hard to hit unless I really picked up the speed and was able to get some room. With a half marathon coming up I just wanted to treat this race as a practice race. I started to drink water every mile and I started to focus on holding my pace. I ended up finishing the race in 53:04 which is far from my best time, but in a race like this going for time can be really hard. The last thing you want to do is starting weaving in and out of people and adding more miles on just to reach a certain time. After the race I grabbed a bottle of water and some cookies and got out of town before it got too crowded, not before running into my friend Kari and talking to her about her race. She just came off some knee problems and wasn't able to run much this summer, she told me she ran a 56 min. race though. I was so proud of her and now I am trying to convince her to do the half marathon with me in May.
MY THOUGHTS: I like this race for the easy course and so many people I know run it, but I hate it for the fact of how crowded and disorganized the starting area is. I would recommend running this race at least once for the experience, but I wouldn’t come in with pipe dreams of running a PR unless you are able to get to the very front behind the elite runners. Also if you do decided to run make sure you do all your bathroom duties before you get to the start.