Monday, October 28, 2013

Race Recap: 2013 Evergreen Pumpkin Run 10 Miler

Evergreen Pumpkin Runners

Ok, no suspense here.  The race was great!  I ran faster than my goal pace and shaved 5 minutes off last year's time!

Now for the details:

  • Event: Evergreen Pumpkin 10 Mile Run
  • Location: Jacksonville, Florida
  • Participants: 668 in the 5K  and 640 in the 10 Miler
  • Parking: Free parking is located inside the cemetery and is very convenient to the starting line. 
  • Overview:  This is a Halloween themed race run almost entirely in a large, historical cemetery (Evergreen Cemetery)  Many of the runners are in costume, making this a very interesting race indeed!  Pumpkins line the paths inside the cemetery and participants are encouraged to take one home with them.
  • Goal: To finish in 1 hour 40 minutes (10 minute pace)

This was my 2nd year to run this race and my first time trying to beat my time from a previous year.  I absolutely loved repeating a race.  We knew where to park, where to run, where the potties were, etc.  Familiarity really does make the race more enjoyable.

This year I dressed as a peacock.  It was a fun costume to make, and turned out to be easy to run in.

You can't really tell, but I have a huge plume of lame' strips on my backside!

The night before, I was very worried about the weather.  The starting time temp was supposed to be 45 degrees - which is pretty cold for this time of year.  However, I think it actually ended up closer to mid 50's which was perfect for running!

Last year I placed myself towards the back of the pack and spent the first 2 miles running around folks.  This year I started at the 9 min. mile flag and there was little congestion and no dodging slower runners.  It was perfect!

This is a very curvy course - in fact, I think they announced at the beginning that there were around 100 turns on the 10 mile course!  However, everything is clearly marked and most are forks in the path rather than 90 degree turns.   The course is very scenic with huge oaks, old crypts and peaceful benches.  It is also rather hilly for this part of Florida.  I know many of you from other parts would laugh at what I consider a hill.  Well, even I know it's not a hill but a slight incline!  But when you always train on flat, flat, flat terrain it feels significant.
Very scenic route!

Here is how it went down:

  • Miles 1-3: I felt great!  The weather was perfect, although my hands were freezing.  By the end of mile 3, I realized that I was easily keeping a 9:45 pace and I began to believe that an under 100 minute 10-miler was possible.  At the 3 mile mark the 5K-ers broke away for the finish line and the crowd thinned dramatically.  I took my first walk break at the 3 mile water station for about 45 seconds.
  • Miles 3-5: This was the only time we ran out of the cemetery.  It was an out and back down a closed road.  This provided the perfect opportunity to see a lot of other runners and the costumes they were wearing.  There are some very creative folks out there!  I caught sight of my husband as he was heading back on this stretch and we high-fived.  We were both running better than expected!  However, towards the end of mile 5 my left hamstring started cramping and I had to stop for a few seconds and try to rub it out.  
  • Miles 5-7: This was the most difficult part for me.  My left ankle, which had been giving me trouble during the past few weeks, started to hurt in an entirely different area.  I got really worried that I would be injuring myself if I continued to run on it, so I had to decide if this race was worth it.  Then, about the time I thought I should just stop and walk the ankle pain would go away.  I would begin to feel confident again and then... pain.  It took me about 15 minutes to finally figure out that my ankle only hurt when I was going uphill.  I had forgotten that this course is rather undulating.  So, my racing mind reasoned that I never ran uphill anyway, so who cared if I got an injury that only hurt on uphill runs.  Yes, I actually thought that!!  So I kicked it up a notch and ended the 7 miles with a 9:51 average pace.
  • Miles 7-9: My pace varied greatly during this time.  I would think I was giving it all I had and look down and realize I was running at a 10:20 pace.  Also, I kept forgetting to pump my arms.  I'd think something like "I'll really concentrate on pumping my arms until I get to that tree!" and then realize when I got to said tree that I'd already stopped moving them.  In other words, I was having a lot of trouble concentrating.  on anything.  I remember passing a crypt and thinking that it looked very familiar, only to realize that I was on my second loop, so of course I had passed it before.  I was feeling very tired, but at the end of mile 9 my avg. pace was still 9:51.
  • Mile 9-10:  Just past the 9 mile marker I saw my husband standing by a tree stretching his legs.  It was such a welcome sight!  I asked him why he had waited, and he said he'd proven to himself that he could run it at a 9:30 pace and wanted to finish up with me!  Isn't that sweet?!  I told him I was going to kick it the last mile... and honestly I tried, but there was nothing left to give.  I began to feel frustrated, then realized that the most I could hope to gain during the last mile was 15 seconds or so.  I knew at that point that I was going to make my goal, so I just stopped struggling and tried to keep on pace.  When I finally saw the finish line, it was almost a shock.  "Look!  It's the Finish Line! Already!" I exclaimed like an idiot!  
Finally!  The finish line!

Afterward, we ate awesome bagels from Panera Bread and talked to our friends that were there.  I felt like I should be celebrating - after all, I beat last year's time by more than 5 minutes!  But, I just felt sore and tired!  I asked Brian if he wanted to get a pumpkin (which would involve walking back down the race course) and he just gave me a sideways glance and said "If I want a pumpkin, I'll buy one!"

We spent the rest of the day in our recovery tights, eating stuff we shouldn't, napping, and just reliving the race over and over.  Finally I began to celebrate!  I did it!  I actually did it!!!    

Time: 1:38:32 (last year 1:43:35)
Average Pace: 9:51
A/G Place: 22nd of 49
Would I run it again?  Absolutely!  I love almost everything about this race!  I love the closed course, the wonderful costumes, the easy parking, and the race distance.  10 mile races are hard to find!

More pics: (note: most of the pics on this page were taken by my wonderful local running store: First Place Sports.)

My friend "O" - She is 65 years old and ran it in 1:31!!!
I even spoke to this woman during the race
and didn't know who she was dressed as until I saw this picture!

Baby was dressed as the Cowardly Lion

This woman was NOT walking back for her pumpkin!