After my successful training for the 5 mile race in June, I turned my focus to a 10 miler at the end of September–the NYRR Five-Borough Series: Bronx 10-Mile. On race day for the 5 miler I had never even ran that far before–my longest training run for it was 4.5 miles. My weekly mileage had peaked at 10 miles with the last few weeks hovering around 9 miles. For 10 miler training, my longest run would be 9 miles and weekly mileage would peak at 18 miles. But I had a full 13 weeks to train from 5 miles to 10 so I was confident.
Training for the 10 miler went well. I especially enjoyed the longer runs. It went so well that 8 weeks in I decided to shoot for 9+1 guaranteed entry for the marathon. Then, just a week and half before the 10 miler, the whole guaranteed entry debacle happened and I had to add a half marathon just 2 weeks after my 10 mile race. Most of the beginner training plans I found for the half marathon peaked at 10 miles so while I was nervous, I was still confident. That is until I actually ran the 10 miler.
Preparation is key
Ahead of and directly after the race, there was a lot of coordination that needed to be done with several running friends and non-runners who were not only coming to the race, but would be gathering for brunch after. I also had an old friend in town and a dear friend was having a one night only art showing the night before the race. So my day before the race veered from the typical plan a bit. I ended up being up later than planned, didn’t get in a proper dinner, and even had a couple of drinks. I started my race day with just 5 hours of sleep. Luckily, commuting to the race went pretty smoothly. I met a runner friend at my transfer and we made the long trek to the Bronx together. I had fundraced for Back on My Feet and planned to meet the team before the race. After a few hellos and a pit stop, we met up with our running pals in the corrals. I had a perchance meeting with one of my online teammates in the corrals, too. Even with all of the good coordination though, I ended up racing alone. Not a huge deal since I do most of my running alone.
Hills technically make it longer, right?
For the first couple of miles, I felt good and confident. Around mile 2, I felt a little misty-eyed with pride that I was taking on such a distance. There were actually people out and cheering which was really nice. I have only been to the Bronx once so the view was interesting, too. This course was an out-and-back which to some can be hard on the ego when you see the front of the pack heading to the finish before you even hit mile 3, but for me it was great. Hollering for fast teammates was fun and kept me energized. My only complaint would be Mr. Stinky. This guy smelled bad at mile 2 so I know it wasn’t from running. Evidently we were shooting for the same finish time though because I would encounter him several times on the course, always smelling him before I saw him. PU!
The Bronx is hilly. I knew this was a hilly course so I made sure to include plenty of bridge running in my training. But, after a few good hills, by mile 3 I was starting to feel it. Maybe it wasn’t all about the hills. After all, I had a few drinks the night before and hadn’t had a proper dinner then only got 5 hours of sleep. It was also a little warm. Whatever it was, I ended up taking my gel a little early around mile 3.5. I figured it was better to be proactive with the fuel and hydration than risk bonking later.
The next mile of the course was pretty flat and the mile after that was mostly downhill. By mile 6 we were circling back to retrace our steps to the start/finish. It was around the 10K mark that I really started to feel like it was a struggle. My body was tired and I knew what lie ahead in terms of hills because I had already run over them once on my way out. I decided to take my second and last gel and just try to stay as positive as possible. By mile 7, I was really surprised by how difficult this race seemed to be. I had trained well including bridges to account for the hilly course, the weather was good even if it was a little warm, and my hydration and fueling had been proactive. No matter, by mile 7 I was hitting a mental wall brought on by my fatigue. I knew I wouldn’t be able to push much harder in the last couple of miles of this race like I had planned and that bummed me out. I tried not to think about the fact that I had a half marathon looming in just two short weeks.
Friends can change everything
I had no idea where anyone would be on the course so I just tried to keep my eyes peeled as I got into mile 8. I ended up getting see friends in three different places which was awesome. Seeing my friends definitely gave me a boost and having them spread across the last mile and a half is exactly what I needed to turn my mental game around. As the finishing chute came in focus and I saw a dear (fast!) friend calling my name, my mental game completely refocused and I pushed for a strong finishing kick. Just after crossing the finish, I got my medal. It was one of the proudest moments of my life.
I’ll spare the details of the post-race shenanigans. Suffice it to say that trying to organize 10 people from 10 different locations on a course, half of which are runners in desperate need of different things, is much like wrangling a herd of kittens. After a brief stop at my friend’s place for a quick change of clothes, we all made it to our final destination–an all you can eat brunch buffet. Oh yes, we ate and we drank and we celebrated a successful race. Non-running friends got to experience many delightful and gross running tales. Running friends dined in their race medals and got to be encouraged to drink more mimosas and reminded to not talk about running, in the best way possible. We also happened to be celebrating my 38th birthday and I have to say that this was hands-down one of my top 5 birthdays. But I didn’t have long to bask in the accomplishment. In just two short weeks I would be tackling something even bigger. My first half marathon. The Staten Island Half.