i left the city saturday afternoon and headed up to highland park for packet pick-up. straight away, things were a little stressful when i tried to check in and the guy couldn't find my bib. apparently, there were two bibs associated with my name on the sheet, and neither were in the stack. it seemed to be resolved when the woman in charge assigned me a new bib, but i was still worried that a last minute bib switch could mean trouble with posted times.
i woke up bright and early sunday morning to find that it was absolutely gorgeous outside and that the forecast for morning rain wasn't going to happen. i also had tons of energy and even managed to eat a little bit before heading out to the race. so far, this was going much better than the morning of my 5k!
it was a pretty small race, and they had separate 10k and 5k loops, so it didn't seem like it was going to be clustered on the roads at all. the race started promptly at 8:00am, and we were off! i fell in to what felt like a good pace, but when i saw the first mile marker coming up on me, i was worried to find that i was already feeling tired. when my garmin beeped, i looked down to realize that i had run a 10:03 mile; definitely not my training pace! i was worried that i had kind of shot myself in the foot going out faster than i was supposed to, but i just made a mental note that i really needed to slow down.
mile two went much better, but i was still feeling tired from the first mile and the sun was starting to rise above the trees so it was right on me; i was really looking forward to a water station. mile marker two came and went with no water station in sight. another quarter mile and another quarter mile, and i was getting really antsy; where was the water?? and then i started to feel it, that slow spread of a side stitch developing. luckily, the water station was waiting for me at 2.75 miles, so i grabbed a cup and slowed my pace, trying to get rid of the stitch.
it didn't help completely, but i wasn't hurting bad enough to stop, so i kept trucking on. luckily, the course was flat with some downhill portions at that point, so i wasn't struggling too much. what i forgot with that realization, though, was that downhills usually mean uphills at some point. and the lovely course designers had the big hills in the last half of the race for us. as somebody who trains in the flat neighborhoods of urban chicago, hills are completely foreign to me. i tried my hardest with each hill, but mile 5 was hard for me, as hills kept popping up, and it constantly felt like we were on an incline. i was struggling, and i was definitely at more of a fast-walking-run pace than my normal running pace.
beautifully, in the middle of mile six, we had a quarter mile of steep downhill. i was so happy, because as the race had disoriented me, i figured the finish line was at the bottom of that hill. wrong. i remembered reading that this course included the "famous beach hill," but i figured that just meant a scenic view of the lake from the race. what it really meant was that my happy downhill was followed by a steep quarter mile uphill leading back to the finish line. this was different than the rolling hills of mile five. this was just...not happening. as i tried to run up it, my hips yelled at me to stop, and so i walked. i was beating myself up the whole time, since i haven't walked during a run for months now, but it had to be done; races probably aren't the best time to do your first hill run. oh well.
after death hill, i saw the mile marker for mile six, and started running again. i was definitely hurting and knew i wouldn't be able to sprint in, so i just kept going at the slowish pace i had done before. as i came in to sight of the finish line, i saw my boyfriend and his mom cheering, and that put the final pep in my run that i needed to cross the finish line.
i had gone in to the race with a goal time of 1:10, so after i collected my medal and hugged my cheering squad, i checked my garmin...and realized i forgot to stop it. what was my finish time?! my boyfriend said he was pretty sure i was just a little past 1:10, but i wanted to be sure. luckily, they posted results right away. unluckily, the bib mix up from the day before ended up causing a problem with my time, so i was only given my gun time initially and then it took them over a week to get my chip time, which was 1:10:27. hey, for dealing with hills and having to walk a bit, i'll take it!
pay no attention to split 7; it took me over a minute to realize i forgot to stop my garmin.
so what did i think of embrace the race 10k? they definitely did a good job of getting course marshals to regulate the partial-closure course, and they had so many post-race goodies, i could have died and gone to carb heaven. it was also a really nice course layout, with no repeated segments, and volunteers spaced out to cheer us on at all the right places. however, the bib issue kind of sucked, i would have preferred the big hills to be at the beginning of the course, and they definitely needed more porta-potties at the start (they only had two for 600+ runners!). but, since i did get a time in the end and i knew to get in line for the restroom asap, the cons weren't too big of an issue.