It was a perfect day for racing today. It was 36°F and sunny at 8:30 AM for the start with a bright sun shining in the cloudless sky. The Tim Kennard 10 Mile River Run starts and finishes on the Salisbury University campus in Salisbury. This is a great D III school with fantastic academics and a long history of athletic excellence. This campus is a half hour from the beach, so it’s very popular. My wife’s undergrad is from the school as well as my mother’s MBA. They have dropped millions of dollars into the facilities over the last couple of decades. The campus is beautiful.
The 10 miler started concurrently with the 5K. I worked my way near the front for the start, but I was still right behind an older guy with a bald head and a dog wearing a racing singlet and a baseball cap with ear holes cut out of it.I positioned myself on the non-leash side, preparing to get quickly by when the horn sounded. Off we went, right on time at 8:30. As is typical, the masses went out with great zeal. There was a lot of jostling and weaving all around me, but I stuck to the plan. The goal was to to out at a 7:20 pace and see what I had and pick it up if possible. I managed to get into a relatively clear spot where I could run unencumbered. About a half mile into the race I passed the bald dude with the dog. They were making a pretty good pace and I didn’t see any bodies in her wake, so I guess there wasn’t any major tripping.
The race quickly left the campus proper and began winding through the neighborhoods that surround it. This area is very flat, with sandy soil that’s very conducive for growing pine trees. They don’t lose their needles, so there were areas of shade where it was a little cool, while it was very comfortable in the sun. I went through mile one in 7:25, feeling really good about how things were progressing. The first neighborhood area was through one of the more affluent ones in Salisbury, homes occupied by either University professors or Perdue Farms executives. As this is a River Run, there was a river to be seen. Many of these houses are waterfront properties. There really weren’t any residents out to see the runners go by in this area. Right before mile 2, the 5K runners split off. I was in a group of about 8 runners at this point and 5 of them turned off. Mile 2 in 7:23 and I’m feeling really good so I decide to inch it up a bit.
The middle part of the race is kinda foggy. I got into a zone and was just clicking off the miles. I ran it mostly with two extremely attractive young ladies and a couple of guys with lacrosse t-shirts that were breathing like they had just finished running gassers.Miles 3 through 7 clicked off between 7:03 – 7:18. The highlight of this leg was running past a fraternity house that had Eye of the Tiger blasting out the windows and some very spirited spectators. The first water stop was in this segment. As I approached, I saw that the cups were plastic. Huh. That’s going to be hard to pinch so I can drink it. Well, I didn’t get the chance to find out. I knocked the first one out of the volunteers hand and the second grab I wiffed completely. I let this worry me for about 30 seconds and then I heard “Let it go” in my head, so I did. I ran on. I managed to get water a the next stop, still in a plastic cup. Yes, that was just as hard to pinch and drink from as I imagined. I coughed and choked a little bit, but I got some of it down. Good thing it wasn’t 85 degrees.
For mile 8, I picked out a small group ahead and decided I felt good enough to try to reel them in. The race was coming into the town center area and there were a lot of coeds around telling me I was looking good. I think I was starting to believe them. I slugged down a Gu and grabbed water at around 7.5 (in a PAPER cup!), ran through the cobblestones of the along the city center shops and making the turn back toward the University for the finish. Mile 8 clocked in at 6:49, giving me a little concern. I wasn’t sure if I was ready for that.
I picked out another runner ahead and started to draw him in. I picked him up in about a half mile and sat on his hip for maybe a minute before passing him and pulling away. Mile 9 went by in 7:09, back to my previous pace. I was feeling really strong so I knew I’d be able to pick it up for the last mile. The next runner was about 150 yards ahead, so I set my sights on him. Turns out, he knew he was in his last mile as well, so he decided he was going to pick it up too. I weaved through the traffic island as I came to the last straight away before a couple of quick weaves through campus to the finish. I saw the two coed volunteers that I yucked it up with on my warm-up run. They waved and smiled. I’m sure they thought I was hot. 😀 I had a big surge at the end, my kick was very strong. I cruised the last mile in 6:52, good enough for 25th overall out of 237 in a chip time of 1:11:42, a 7:11 pace. It’s a PR because I’ve never run a 10 mile race before. 🙂