I was not nervous for this race, but I was very excited to race. This is one of my favorite fall races. I ran it for the first time in 2004 and had dreamed of winning this thing someday. Last year I won. This year my goal was to defend my title, as there have only been 3 guys in 31 year history of the race to win it multiple times…and they have all done it back to back years. I honestly was not sure of my fitness going into this race, but coach and I decided if I could run 33:00-33:10, it would be a good day.
This race is a point to point race. You check in at the finish and they bus you to the start. I picked up my packet about 90 minutes before the start of the race. You have to stand in line by last name to pick up your bib. My last name starts with a “W” and all of the people around me were picking up numbers in the 500-600s. I tell them my last name and the lady says, “Oh, you’re the random #1 in with all these high numbers. You must have been waiting on your computer at midnight to sign up as soon as it opened.” I got a good laugh out of that.
|Such a low number!|
My Garmin 310xt was being a pain in my butt, and would not turn on. I tried doing a soft reset and it still would not show anything besides the normal Garmin starting screen. It was fully charged. After messing with it for a while I decided to ditch the Garmin, because I would rather focus on something I can control, rather that something I couldn’t. There would be clocks on the course, so I would be able to figure out where I am based on that.
As I finished my warm up and put on my Brooks t7 racing flats, I noticed Bryan Glass was also racing. For those of you who don’t know who Bryan Glass is, he is the 2013 USA Masters 15k Champ, along with the now 10x winner of Canal Connection, and course record holder, & masters course record holder. I knew I would not win the race, but I knew a fast time was definitely possible! I had to remind myself that this race was supposed to be about running smart and fast, not about winning.
The race went by pretty quickly. The first mile was 5:11 and there were 4 of us within a couple seconds of each other. I knew I had gotten out quicker than I wanted to, but there is a bit of a downhill in the first mile, so I wasn’t worried that I got out a tad fast. Shortly after mile 1 we were down to 3. I decided to let the 2 other guys go, because I really wanted to run fast and didn’t want to risk blowing up between 5-8k and suffering the last 2k home. I came through 2 miles in 10:25, perfectly relaxed. At this point I just said, “Hey Coree, you’re running great. 10:25 is over a minute slower than your 2 mile PR. Just stay relaxed and it will be a good say.” I could see the other guys up there, so I had motivation to keep running. I came through the 3 mile in 15:36. At this point I was no longer worried about pace; I just wanted to run a strong last half of the race I knew I was on pace to PR unless something big happened.
|I was pretty happy to make the final turn!|
From mile 3-4 the gap started to get pretty big and I wondered if I was slowing down, or they were speeding up. I made the decision to back off the pace a little just to be safe. I ended up coming through 4 miles in 21:01. After doing some quick math in my head I was positive I could PR. I knew the guys were already 30 seconds or more ahead. At this point I really wasn’t hurting like I was expecting to be, so I picked it back up. My 5 mile split was 26:20. I told myself, “drive with the knees, keep the hips high, focus.” This was the hardest mile of the race, because this is where I finally lost sight of the leaders—there are a few turns in the last part of the race. I kept plugging along, and say 31:30 for 6 miles. At this point I knew I could go farther into the hurt box and pull off a nice PR. I closed the last .2 in :74 to finish in 32:44. My 10k PR was 33:17 from last year, on this same course, so I was very excited!
|Lookin' pretty strong on my way to the finish!|
5:11 – 5:11
5:15 — 10:25
5:11 — 15:36
5:25 — 21:01
5:19 — 26:20
5:10 — 31:30
:74 — 32:44
So, what do I take away from this? Well, I think I ran a smart race. I knew I could not win, but a fast time would be possible. Instead of going with the leaders and seeing how long I could hang on, I decided to pull back and run something I felt was more manageable. Did I negative split? No. But I honestly feel this is the best possible race I could have run for the day. I feel I did a good job of running off feel and managing my pace to set myself up for a good race. The overall win would have been nice, but a huge PR is even better!
I have had a lot of people ask me what my training was like leading into this race and how I had such a breakthrough day. Honestly, we have not done anything different or special for this race. After Branson we pretty much went into “off season” mode. I have been running almost the same as I have been all year, but without the workouts. A lot of easy days—some long, some short, but nothing too intense. I’ve been biking. I’ve been swimming. So for me to run sub 33 for the first time, I am thrilled.
Next up? Litchfield Route 66 Half Marathon on Nov 9. I’m pretty excited to see what I can do in my first open half marathon. Once again, the goal is just to run smart. Hope to see some of y’all out there!
Well, thanks for reading. If you have any questions, ask away! Train hard and stay safe out there!