It has been over a month since I ran this race. I’ll be honest, race recaps are my least favourite type of blog post to write, and combine that with no internet for over a month, makes for one bad case of procrastination.. until now. No more excuses.
The Smokies 10 mile ladies road race was my first race of 2015. I was looking forward to this race at the start of 2015 for many reasons: the first race of the year, an opportunity to challenge (and hopefully beat) my current 10 mile PB, and a race where many friends and familiar faces would be present. Not only were my friends Amy and Wendy from running entered, but Coconut Friend Amie was going to be there, as well as other ladies from work, other runners I knew and even Susan, a reader of the blog, was going to be racing. This race was going to be a social event as well.
Fast forward the week before the race and my social event started to crack. All my close friends pulled out for various reasons, which left me on my own to make the journey down to Arbroath for the race. I was disappointed with this, but the thought of still seeing familiar faces at the Arbroath Sports Centre was reassuring. When I showed up race day, however, all familiar faces were no where to be found. I arrived alone and was alone the entire time leading up to the race start. It seems that everyone I knew would be running the race wasn’t running the race… All except Susan.
She and I only know each other via Facebook Messenger and my blog’s Facebook page: we’ve never met in real life, but knew we would come race day as Susan had also entered the race. While I was waiting for the race to begin, a woman came up to me and asked me if I was Danielle. Of course I was. She introduced herself as Susan. We chatted for a bit; it turns out she would be marshalling the race instead of running it. It was a bit of comfort to finally speak to someone familiar, and to ease the race nerves a bit.
My initial intention for this race was to aim for another personal best, however with February being an incredibly chaotic month, and my left foot giving me gip, I had settled with simply running the race. The weather forecast for the race also made just running it a better option: winds of up to 24 miles per hour were predicted, and so was rain. Perhaps a PB should’ve been in the race plan just to get inside quickly!
Cue race start. All of us ladies running the race made our way out of the sports centre to Keptie Road, aka the race start. Though the race entries sold out incredibly fast it didn’t seem like there were 400 women running the race as we gathered. Susan told me many people dropped out. Because of the weather maybe? Don’t know 😉
The first half of this race could be summed up briefly: running with a gusting headwind, uphill, and passing ladies on the uphill (climbing with my quads not my calves).
Mile 1: 9:10
Mile 2: 9:35
Mile 3: 10:33
Mile 4: 10:01
Mile 5: 9:21
Getting battered by the wind wasn’t fun, but at least it didn’t rain. Wind aside, the temperature was actually quite beautiful for early March!
The race course is like a lollipop: you run out a road, do a loop of the countryside, then return along the same initial road. Once I turned out of the headwind on the loop, the race completely changed. Instead of grinning and bearing it, the wind was now at my back and was pushing me to the finish. It was also pushing me to a possible, unintentional PB.
All through the countryside heading back, the route was downhill and that, combined with taking advantage of the occasional tailwind gust, made for some quick miles heading back into Arbroath. At one point, my pace was below 8 minute miles and I purposely slowed down to save energy for the end. I did a few calculations at mile 8, and it was then that I knew I was in contention for a new personal best.
Mile 6: 8:44
Mile 7: 8:39
Mile 8: 8:56
I knew that if I kept each mile under 9:15 I could sail back into Arbroath with another 10 mile PB. So that’s what I did. It was a bit tough, but I pushed through it. I even waved to Susan as I made my way uphill, pushing to get back.
Mile 9: 8:25
Mile 10: 8:24
I finished the race in 1:32:30, a new 10 mile personal best of over a minute from my Potsdam run in January, and a new course record of 6.5 minutes! My previous Smokies time was 1:39:05. Despite being completely alone in this race, I was absolutely elated with my time.
I picked up my race goodie bag and headed inside the sports centre to change and stretch. I had some post race recovery protein and carbs, then sat and people watched while enjoying my flask of Matcha green tea. At the end of the Smokies race, there is a spread of sandwiches and treats from Pie Bobs in Arbroath. I had a look at what was on offer, but I passed. I had a quick chat with Susan once again, and decided to head home to my new home and for shower.
Overall, despite facing a few mental obstacles leading up to this race, I’m very pleased with how it went. My foot has since gotten better with physio exercises and continuing to run three days a week, as well as body weight exercises. My big Balmoral Challenge at the end of this month is shaping up nicely!