I ran the Shrimp Festival 10K yesterday morning. The race was a very last-minute decision (as in, I decided Friday evening that I was going to run it). I had 18 miles on my schedule this week and so I concocted this master plan of running before the race, running the race and then running some more after the race. So yeah, basically my plan was to run, keep running and run some more. Genius! I needed to be at work around 10 or so Saturday morning and so I ended up doing the majority of the miles before the race so that I could leave and get back at a decent time.
I sipped on coffee and UCAN on the way to the race (about a 45 minute drive), got to the race around 6:30, registered and hit the [paved] trails! Daniel came with me to the race and rode his bike while I was running. The sun had just come up and I felt completely comfortable running on the trails by myself. I took my phone with me and listened to a podcast while I ran. I don’t wear headphones, I just let it play out loud. I would never do this in a race (as that can be quite annoying), but when I am by myself, I’d rather listen out loud (softly) than wear headphones. I saw some rabbits, a few deer and some other wildlife that I think I’m forgetting. It was very peaceful.
I met up with my friend, Jill, at about five and a half miles or so into my warm up. She wanted to do a three mile warm up and so we tried to coordinate our schedules so that we could run three miles together before the race. We haven’t seen each other in a while and I guess we were just extra chatty and also not paying attention to what we were doing, but before we knew it, we realized that we were actually about two and half miles away from the start … and it was 7:40! EEK. We had to really book it to make it back in time and we weren’t sure that we even would.
We threw down a 7:18 and a 7:14 mile in our best attempt to actually make it to the start of the race on time without completely exhausting ourselves. I hadn’t even pinned my number on my shirt yet and so we were definitely scrambling. Daniel called me asking what in the world we were doing and I explained that we just lost track of time and were currently hauling it to make it back. The race had chip timing, so we had decided that even if we had to start late, it would be okay, we would just have to do a lot of weaving around folks on a very narrow trail. There was also a 5K that started about 15 minutes after the 10K. We heavily contemplated that as well.
Ultimately, we made to the start of the race by the skin of our teeth with about 1 minute to spare. Whew! The good news is that we didn’t have to worry about getting nervous standing around waiting for the race to start and also that I definitely got the “continuous” feel of my long run in. There were no breaks between the warm up and the race!
The race starts and finishes at the Orange Beach Sportsplex and runs on the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail (a trail system with over fifteen miles of trails throughout Orange Beach, Gulf Shores and the Gulf State Park). The trails are all paved and it’s a great location for a race (or just to run if you are ever in the area)! The only minor drawback is that the GPS satellites are a little wonky in there and you can’t really rely on your watch for accurate mid-race data. I am trying to get away from Garmin stalking anyway, so this actually worked out.
Jill and I ran the first two miles together (6:49, 6:57). This wasn’t a goal race per say for either one of us and we talked about trying to keep it under seven minute pace with maybe a negative split if we felt good.
I kind of did a quick assessment at mile two and decided that I wanted to try to pick the pace up a little bit and get close to 6:30 if possible. I was feeling pretty good and managed to hit 6:33, 6:32, 6:33 and 6:39 for the last four miles of the race. I didn’t think to restart my watch after the “warm up” to have accurate times and splits for the race, so my mile markers were a little bit off the whole time and I wasn’t even sure what my total race time was until I got to the finish line (it was 41:37). I think I was fifth overall and first female, so I can’t really complain about that!
I didn’t have any real expectations for what I was going to feel like running a 10K already being 10 miles into the run. I was pleasantly surprised! I was also very thankful that I had already done ten miles before the race because that meant I only had to do two miles afterwards to get my eighteen in. My legs were definitely toast at that point, but I got it done. Daniel’s family was in town staying at the Gulf and they came out to the race, which was wonderful. It’s always great to have a little bit of extra moral support out there.
We weren’t able to hang out very long after the race since I had to get back to go to work. Only 1 more day until “second” tax season is over! Praise the Lord! I hated to miss the awards, but sometimes you just do what you gotta do. I’m glad that I made the last-minute decision to run this race. It’s definitely a good one. Hopefully I’ll be able to run it again next year and perhaps not have to come and go in such a mad dash!