Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Monument 10K Race Recap

My husband and I ran the Monument 10K this past weekend and overall it was a pretty fun race. It seems like just about everyone does this race (they have about 40,000 participants), and the race receives a lot of community support. I wanted to do this race last year, but since I was still living in Michigan last spring I had to decide between spending my birthday with my husband or running the race. Needless to say, my birthday won out. I was super excited that this year I got to do both.

The Expo 

The expo for this race is huge. It is almost the same size as the expo for the Richmond Marathon and Half Marathon, which is pretty amazing since it is only a 10K. We went to pick up our stuff on Thursday evening and it was busy, but you were able to get in and out pretty quick. We wondered around for a bit, looked at some of the vendors and picked up a couple of fun freebies, like a mini cowbell. Who doesn’t need one of those? 

The Course 

The Monument 10K is an out and back course that takes you up and down Monument Ave. (They were really creative with the race name.) It is actually pretty cool, because Monument Avenue is filled with historic houses and has huge statues commemorating Virginia heroes like Robert E. Lee, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and Arthur Ashe. From what I understand, this is where the society types lived when you still got around by horse and buggy. 

There are a number of cool things about the course. First, it is flat and that makes for a relatively fast race. Second, the brick sections of the road are pretty well maintained, so it is not a bad surface to run on. Lastly, it is a really contained course with lots of space for entertainment and spectators. There were people, often 2 or 3 deep, along the whole course. 

On the course
There are also a ton of other runners on the course. Runners are started in waves of between 700 and 1,500 runners, but with over 40,000 people, there are a lot of people on the course at any given time. Since we were toward the end of the running waves, our wave went almost an hour after the gun, and the jogging and walking waves continued to be released for another hour. 

My Race 

I woke up Saturday morning feeling a little like death. My throat was on fire and my sinuses were throbbing. What I thought were allergies had turned into a head cold. So, I dug through the medicine cabinet to find some ibuprofen and decongestant, and drugged myself with the hope that I could make it through the race. 

We left the house about an hour and a half before our wave started. Parking could have been an issue, and would have if we hadn’t had my husband’s work parking pass. He works close to the finish line and we were able to park in the lots belonging to his employer. The race being close to his office was a triple bonus because we also used the restrooms in his building before the race, so no porta-pottys, and could stay dry and warm until it was time to run. 

Getting ready to run
We went out to our corral about 10 minutes before our wave was supposed to start. Since it was cloudy I wanted to make sure that there was enough time for my watch to pick up satellite. By this point it was misting and the rain made it feel cooler than it was. The corrals were moving forward quickly because they were being released every 3 minutes. 

We hit the mat and were off. By this point my medicine had kicked in and I felt pretty good. I use the run/walk method and I actually missed my first walk interval because of the noise from the crowds and people around me. This meant that I ran the first mile without a walk break. Overall, the first few miles felt really good. I was trying to keep my pace conservative so I didn’t hit a wall before I made it to the end. 

I hit mile 4 and I was still feeling good, so I kicked up the pace just a bit. It had been a long time since I had done a 10K and I was trying to hit a good time and not die at end. Since the course is really flat, you can see the finish line from almost a half mile out. Once I saw that, I knew I was good, so I picked up the pace a little more. 

I ended up finishing the 10K in 1:11:13, which is an average pace of 11.29 per mile. This is close to the pace I will have to keep to hit my 2:30 goal for the half marathon. I also managed to negative split the 5Ks for this race! While I know you are supposed to try and negative split, it is something I am not very good about. 

Overall, this was a fun, flat, fast race. I am pretty happy with my time. There is also a lot of community support for the race, so we got some fun freebies over the weekend too. The things about the race I did not enjoy, the rain and not feeling great, were things that no one could control. I can see why everyone in Richmond does this race, and I think we will do it again next year.