The 10K race began about an hour before the 5K and was a much smaller race. There were around 150 runners in the 10K and around 900 in the 5K. The 5K had around 600-700 GOTR participant runners alone!
|Scenes from the 5K from the GOTR Facebook page|
It was a chilly morning with temps in the low 30's...perfect for a race but stressful for outfit selection. Choosing running clothes is just more stressful when doing a race because you don't want anything to distract you from the race. I ended up wearing tights, a long sleeve black top, and my Rush racing singlet over top. Since it was Girls on the Run I decided to spice up the outfit with a red tutu. I wore a Rush fleece hat but chose to skip the gloves since my hands usually get warm after the first mile or so. When I finished there were sweaty crystals on my hat!
The race course was a slightly modified version of the back half of the Bentonville Half Marathon course. Luckily I didn't see the route before I registered or I might have changed my mind on participating. The course has a significant hill in the final mile to the finish and that hill has been my nemesis for years. I started out near my friend and fellow Rush teammate Jody and we had conflicting Garmin paces. I was worried when my watch showed that we were under a 9 minute pace at the start but Jody's Garmin was accurate to the pace which was about a 9:30 pace. Whew...that would have been a painful mistake at the beginning of a 10K.
Jody and I separated around the 1 mile mark when she pulled ahead slightly. I made it my goal to keep her in sight as much as I could. The course took us to the Bentonville trail system around mile 2.5. The paved trail would then take us back to the square for the finish. When we got onto the trails I felt colder since the trail was in the shade. It didn't last very long before the trail headed into the sun...there were several beautiful moments along the trail where you could see the steam rising off the creek next to the trail.
The two water stops for the race were along the trail and the volunteers passing out water on such a cold morning were wonderful. All along the race course the volunteers were great and always cheerful. One thing I noticed though was they all had on tall boots! Most of the volunteers looked to be high school age and all had on skinny jeans or leggings with tall boots. Nothing like a fashion lesson during a race!
I ran near the same group of people for almost the entire race. I could see Jody up ahead of me by about 1-2/10's of a mile. There was also a small group that appeared to be an experienced runner pacing a pair of newer runners. By the time we hit mile 4, this group was splintering up. The newer runners were starting to slow down and take walk breaks. Their pacer would try to encourage them or would run ahead and then wait for them. It was entertaining to watch...until I passed them. The pacer made a comment about how they were being passed by someone in a tutu. It seemed a little snarky but I just kept on trucking by.
As we approached mile 5 I started to begin the mental pep talk for the upcoming hill. I had made it this far in the race without any walk breaks and I wanted to make it up the hill the same way. I talked myself into taking the hill nice and easy and focused on the people ahead of me using them alternately as ropes pulling me up the hill and inspiration to catch and pass. I was quite happy to finally exit the hill by Compton Gardens and begin the short sprint to the finish on flat ground!
I didn't pay much attention to my watch after those first few minutes when Jody and I discussed pacing. I thought I had banked some time during the early miles to account for the slowness that the hill would bring. I checked my watch as I made the turn into the final straight away and realized I was much closer to an hour than I thought. My 10K PR is around 57:37 but my happy place for most 10K's is around 62-66 minutes. I was thrilled to finish at 59:41 especially with that hill and without taking walk breaks.
I met up with Jody by the water and her first comment was about how close we were. If I only had stayed with her as we passed the first mile...when we parted ways she picked up about a minute on me and held that through the finish. Jody and I wandered through the post race festivities and then I headed back to check out the finish.
What a giant cereal bowl!
The biggest surprise of the day was that my friend and first running buddy in Arkansas Holli was running the 10K. I was super surprised to see Holli Saturday morning since we hadn't talked about the race. I had just sent her a note on Friday saying how not very thankful I was to have not seen her in ages! I was so surprised and excited to see her at the race and wanted to cheer on her finish. I had perfect timing as I made it to the end of the crowds just as she was coming around the corner to finish. After the race she told me she had some choice words/feelings about the hill!
Holli and I with Sparky after the race! You can still see the crystals on my hat.
I also got to cheer on a young friend Karly who won the 5K for females. Karly is around 14 or so and is just the sweetest girl. She was so happy to have won and I gave her a big hug when she came out of the finish chute. This was one of her best 5K times on the road ever and she said she could have gone faster!
Overall it was great seeing so many friends at the race and also seeing so many people out there encouraging the girls in their race. The finish line was a steady stream of young girls finishing and their smiles were contagious. The adult coaches and buddy runners were so full of pride for their teams of girls. It was awesome!!!