Remember a couple weeks ago when I asked someone to help me identify a half to do in the coming months? Well, I haven’t found one yet, but I succumbed to peer pressure and on a lark, registered for a 10k that was part of a local race which also included a marathon and half marathon.
The City of Oaks Marathon and 1/2 Marathon took place here in Raleigh on November 3. I obviously cannot comment from firsthand experience about these but can say that according to the race organizers, the course was changed this year to make it faster. From looking at the elevation map, generally knowing Raleigh’s topography, running part of the course, and speaking to friends who did both the full and half, I can unequivocally say that the past years’ course must have been hell on earth.
The 10k course was also not so easy, but running isn’t supposed to be easy, right? Mile one, as I could gather from the elevation map, was almost all downhill, with a short steep uphill at about .75. Sweeeeet. Now as a brief aside, let me advise that none of you actually try to “race” anything other than a trip to the hospital with a) only 13-15 miles of mileage under your belt for several weeks or b) no warmup on a 37 degree morning- in shorts.
Anyway, mile 2 was fairly flat with one or two climbs. Still feeling pretty good, I clocked in at 14:25 for the first two miles. Just before mile three was a pretty long, nasty hill. At this point, my lack of training and warmup led to cramping in both hamstrings within about 5 minutes of one another. Can I also blame pregnancy on this? Surely the blood flow to areas other than my reproductive organs has to be limited right?
The last half of the race was an exercise in futility. I felt pretty well aerobicaly, which is nothing short of a miracle given my complete lack of conditioning. However, my muscles were shot from the cramping. Mile 4.9-6.4 (per my Garmin) was pretty much a death march straight uphill. I dragged my almost lifeless body across the finish line in 49:06. While this is a pregnancy PR, the last time I ran a 10k pregnant, I was 28 weeks along and MASSIVE.
With respect to the race, other than the crappy hills which should come as no surprise, in light of the fact that Raleigh is freaking hilly, I thought it was extremely well run. There were 750 volunteers throughout the course. The crowd support was wonderful. There were a lot of porta potties. There were jugs of hand sanitizer right outside the potties. Running through downtown Raleigh was a blast. The post race “party” was located about 1/2 mile from the 10k finish and about a block from the marathon and half marathon finish.
Oh right, so I forgot about what I would perceive as hell on Earth if I were running one of the longer races. The 10k started 30 minutes after the full and half. At close to our 2 mile marker, the 10k converged with the rest of the field. I filtered into the 2:15 half marathon pace group. I can imagine that group was frantic about getting passed by hoards of people, then annoyed because we were “only” running 6.2 miles.
Our finish was on the left side, after the 1.6 mile climb previously mentioned. The longer distances continued on the right. So not only did the longer races have to watch us finish, they continued to slog up that hill, which appeared to last another 1/4 mile. It was at around mile 8 of their race. It would have been so demoralizing to watch all these people finish as I was slowly jogging towards my death. Trust me, I have experienced it before in marathons, watching the half-ers cheerily split off to the post-race festivities.
At City of Oaks, the post-race festivities included free pizza, donuts, soup, bread, fruit, and BEER. Which I of course had none of, because pregnant woman can’t drink
in public. There was a bounce house for the kids, and the post-race area was not so close to the finish line as to congest the spectating or finishers. I also liked how easy it was to get to and from parking, which was available in many different directions from the race start and finishes.
Overall, I give this race and it’s organizers a B+. It’s not for the faint of heart, but I think it would be a great, scenic, energetic race if you don’t mind a few hills. A friend of mine unexpectedly PR’d, but she is a freak of nature and is from this area (and most likely doesn’t repeatedly run in a 1600m loop in order to avoid hills, the way I do).
I did a long recovery walk with my Super Family, including our 3 mutts, later in the afternoon. Monday I was sorer than Pamela Anderson after the NYC Marathon, but on Tuesday I was re energized to tackle some hill work. If I’m gonna live in this city, I may as well give in to its topography and stop being a wuss about the elevation changes. It’s not like it Asheville or Boulder!