Wednesday, May 06, 2009

2009 Seven Bridges Season Starters 10 Mile

Seven Bridges Season Starters 10 Mile
Woodridge, IL
May 3, 2009

Last Sunday I ran the Seven Bridges Season Starters 10 Mile race, a well-organized, small CARA race that I’ll definitely run again…especially since it’s now home to my 10-mile PR! For this race, my goal was to have something to aim for in between the March Madness Half, which was back in mid-March, and the Elgin Valley Fox Trot 10 mile on Memorial Day. I wasn’t expecting a PR, which was last set at 2006’s Park Forest Scenic 10 (1:35:48), but I was hoping to get under 1:40. I thought this was pretty doable, in spite of a bad 9 mile long run the previous weekend (on Saturday) at Poplar Creek. That day it was warm, so I was hoping my lack of warm weather acclimatization was at fault.

The day before the race I was feeling a little nervous and excited. Brian and I had fun with my dad and his girlfriend talking about our upcoming cruise vacation in a couple of weeks and ate a prime pre-race meal of pizza followed by cake and ice cream. Perfect! We got home early and were able to get to bed early, too. Unfortunately it wasn’t the best night of sleep…I actually had a nightmare that King Kong was standing over our house trying to get into our bedroom, through the window. He ended up getting into our attic and was trying to stick his arm through the attic hatch in my closet…weird dream!

Luckily the sound of the 5:30am alarm interrupted the King Kong attack. I got up, feeling pretty rested. I was glad that the day was sunny and supposed to be in the 50’s for the race. Brian and I got to the race start pretty early, which allowed for us to take our time getting my race packet, which was a nice reusable bag, tech shirt, water bottle, and about a million flyers from sponsors and other races. I made an early stop at the portajohns and picked the wobbliest one on the end…I seriously thought King Kong from my dreams came to knock it over (ugh!). All of them were in a row, butted up against the curb which caused them to tilt forward a little bit. Ironically enough, while waiting in line for a final pit stop, the same exact one (out of the 10 that were there) freed up for me to use. Lucky odds. ;-)

After warming up a little, we headed to the start of the race. With a little over 150 people for the 10 mile race (5k race started 15 minutes later), it was a pretty laid-back start.

Start line

My strategy was to start the first 2-3 miles at 10:00-10:15 pace and then try to go under 10:00 pace for the rest of the miles. My March Madness Half Marathon average page was 9:42, so I figured I could run 9:30-9:45. The first mile went by pretty fast, and my legs felt pretty good, which is rare since it usually takes me a couple of miles for my legs to warm up. I looked at my watch and it said 9:27. Woah! A bit faster than I expected but the pace felt ok so I decided to continue at that level. The first part of the course is on paved streets, which leads to the Greene Valley Forest Preserve trails, where most of the race was held. Brian was at the trail entrance, cheering me on and taking pictures. I didn’t expect to see him at that point, but it was a nice surprise!

The trail was a nicely groomed, wide crushed limestone trail and with the smaller number of participants, I didn’t have any issue with crowding, which was nice. I was able to maintain my pace and passed by mile 2 in 9:26, wow! I felt great and was really enjoying the trail, which was relatively flat and curvy during this segment. I cut the tangents as often as possible, in full-on racecar mode. ;-) I saw the omnipresent Brian again when I got back onto Greene Road and then to the trail on the other side of the street. This section had a couple of nice hills, but it didn’t seem to affect my pace too much as Mile 3 and 4 were 9:31 and 9:40. I was actually passing people here and there, enjoying the sunny day on the prairie trail. The volunteers at some of the trail junctions were the only spectators, but they were great and cheered us on. Mile 5 was a beautiful wooded section and mostly downhill. At the marker, Brian was there again, happy to see me hit the halfway at 47:07 with a split of 9:02! I still felt good and while this pace was pretty speedy for me, I felt I could hold it. I figured that even if I had to slow down in the last couple of miles, I would still make it under 1:40.

Mile 5

The course then led back to Greene Road for about a mile. I didn’t mind because the view was surprisingly pretty, looking toward Greene Hill, which is actually a former landfill. I think I’ll come back here and actually run up and down the hill (I think it’s maybe 300-400 ft high?) for TransRockies training -- there’s a road with a scenic overlook at the top. This was a nice downhill mile and I passed mile 6 in 9:10. From Greene Road we hopped back onto another part of the trail, and there were more rolling hills on this segment. I was thinking how well this day was going and how much I was enjoying this course. Brian, super spectator, was standing near mile 7, which was a 9:30 split, and he ran with me to get back to the car and cheered me on for the next mile or so, being the encouraging, wonderful boyfriend that he is. :-) I was definitely in the zone by then, trying to maintain pace, feeling really excited that barring any issues, I was on my way to not only sub 1:40, but a PR!

Just past mile 7

My mile 8 split was 9:17 (still holding!), and then shortly afterward Brian wished me well and told me he’d see me at the finish. Less than two miles to go! Mile 9 was pretty flat and curvy, my stomach was a little upset, maybe because I was nervous and excited about how well things were going, and my split was 9:23. Now we were back on the road and a nice downhill, I kept pushing, passing a couple more people before turning onto the final stretch, a little over half mile left! Ugh, keep pushing! I was starting to feel a little nauseous, but focused my attention to my legs, willing them to go faster…I passed a guy and then set my sights on a man and woman running together who were ahead of me. I pushed a little harder, and moved past them with less than a minute to go, ahhh, the finish line, Brian cheering, keep pushing! Then a few steps before the finish, I began to retch and nearly gave up my pre-race bagel to the pavement, but luckily the feeling passed and then I crossed the finish line. Whew! Last mile was 8:56, total time…1:33:23!! A new PR by over 2 minutes!! I walked through the chute, hunched over, out of breath, but SOOOO happy that I ran a great race. What an awesome feeling!

Heading for the finish

We hung out a little bit afterward and then headed home, stopping on the way to have breakfast, which was excellent. All in all, a great morning! After we got home, instead of taking the obligatory post-race nap, I had a date with my friend Christie to go rollerblading at Busse Woods. We ended up going for a leisurely 8 miles. In spite of racing hard in the morning, the rollerblading felt good and it was fun to be outside in the nice spring weather. Then later, I finally took my post-race nap. No dreams about King Kong attacks this time! ;-)

Brian's Photos:

Brian's Blog Post

Mile Splits and Course Map from my RunningAhead Log

Race Website


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