Virginia 10 Miler – Race Report

This year was the 40th year of the Virginia 10 Miler in Lynchburg, Virginia. Barry and I now know first hand why they refer to Lynchburg as “the hill city.” That didn’t stop us from having a great day and a solid day of running.
 

Friday evening we drove to a campground outside of Lynchburg, did the whole spaghetti and meatballs for dinner thing, and got to bed early. After sleeping lightly and waking several times Friday night, my alarm finally went off at 4:45 and I was up and at ’em. We walked the dogs, got dressed, and made the 25 minute trek to Lynchburg. We arrived at E.C. Glass High School around 6:15, 1 hour and 45 minutes before the start. I was glad the race offered race day packet pick-up. It was supposed to start at 6:30, but their wonderful volunteers already had everything set up and they allowed us to grab our bibs, race t-shirts, and goody bags (a drawstring backpack with some freebies and race advertisements). I failed to get a picture of packet pick-up or the porta potties, but neither had any lines at that point. Another perk of arriving so early was that we got to park very close to the start. Score!

The main reason we got there so early was that I had 16 miles on my training schedule. The plan was to run 6 miles around Lynchburg before the start of the race, and that was what we were able to do. Just like the race, there were plenty of hills during our 6 mile “warm-up.” When the entire day was said and done, we had a total ascent of 2,189 feet according to my Garmin.

 

The pre-race 6 miles went smoothly. My legs felt fresh, thanks to a Friday rest day, and the weather was nice and cool (low 50’s). We got back to the truck with a little over 10 minutes until the race start. Just enough time for me to change into a dry tank top, pin on my bib, top off my water bottle, and consume a Power Gel. The start line of the race was very crowded. The race did not have waves, but they did have signs up indicating where you should line up based on expected pace. We were unable to work our way any closer than the 13:01-15:00 pace area.

 

Just before 8 AM, the anthem was played by the high school band and then we were off. The first 1.5 miles of the race are practically all downhill and I decided to just let gravity carry me. After that we hit some pretty serious uphill for about a mile. There were very few flat sections during this race. For the most part we were either going up or going down. By mile 2 in the race (mile 8 for the day) my legs were starting to feel a bit tired, but it was nothing unmanageable. I kept chugging along, enjoying the scenery and the bands and crowd support along the course. There were some beautiful and historic-looking houses and (unexpectedly for me) a lot of folks out cheering.

The race was essentially an out and back course, except for a loop through a park at the halfway point. This meant that I got to see Barry when I was close to mile 4 and he was hammering down on mile 6. He ran the 6 miles with me before the race, and then knocked out a 1:16:58 for the 10 miler, a new PR for him!

 

We looped through Riverside Park and hit the halfway point, after coming up a short, but very steep, hill. I ate two Cliff Shot Bloks and started making my way back to the finish line. There were some mean hills on the way back, but I also enjoyed running down all of the hills we had climbed on the way out. The crowd continued to cheer for us and I enjoyed a band that was blasting some Jimmy Buffet. I was still running steady. My breathing was relaxed and my legs were feeling lots of fatigue from the distance and the hills.

 

When we hit 8 miles, I smiled to myself, knowing I had just hit 14 miles for the day. That meant everything from there on was new territory. I ate my last Shot Blok and enjoyed the last downhill before the 1.5 mile-long climb to the finish line, known as the “farm basket” hill (I’m sure there’s a story or reason for it’s name, but I don’t know it). I was feeling tired, but able, during the final climb. Barry caught up with me with about 1/4 of a mile to go and snapped a picture of me. I am holding up 6 fingers for 16 miles.

 

I crossed the finish line in 1:54:02. Not very speedy, but my overall pace for the day was 11:05/mile, which is perfect for me for a long run. My goal is to arrive at the start line in Charlotte healthy and prepared to tackle the distance. After finishing I was given a medal (with green sparkles on it!) and a finisher’s hat. They had pink, white, and black hats and I chose a black one.

New personal distance record!
I had a bit of a hard time finding Barry, but was finally reunited with him. We wandered over to the finish area, got some food (they had bagels, bananas, orange slices, pizza, mini chocolate candy, water, and Gatorade), and headed over the main stage to watch the awards ceremony. Kathrine Switzer and Roger Robinson spoke and presented awards, which was really neat. Kathrine told a story that I had never heard about her connections to Lynchburg College. Turns out she went there her freshman and sophomore years before transferring to Syracuse. The Lynchburg men’s track coach saw her running one day and asked her to compete on the men’s team in the upcoming track meet in the 1 mile race. She agreed and her only goal was to break 6 minutes. She ended up running a 5:59, unknowingly making history and beginning her path to her famed running of the Boston Marathon in 1967.

 

The race had quite a lot of talent, with a men’s winning time of 47:34 and a women’s winning time of 55:38. What amazed me was that the 10th place man ran 49:36. Talk about depth in the race field. During the awards ceremony, an 85 year old man named William Draper finished his 40th Virginia 10 Miler in 3:06:49. He has completed the race every year since it’s inaugural event and this year he wore bib number 1.

This race was very challenging, but also a lot of fun. The organizers do a great job and it’s definitely one Barry and I will run again some day. I am interested to see what I can do with the course if I don’t run 6 miles beforehand. But for this weekend, I was very happy to have completed 16 miles feeling strong.

Do you ever make a race part of a training run?

What’s the coolest race swag you’ve ever gotten?
This is the first time I’ve ever gotten a finisher’s hat!

14 Comments

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  1. As long as you can stop yourself from racing (and you have excellent control!), then this is – in my opinion – a PERFECT way to get in a long run. You log some miles to start, and the race helps carry you through the tired miles toward the end. Plus, there are water stop and (hopefully) restrooms, should you need to avail yourself. Brilliant!

    I’ve turned a few recent shorter races into tempo-style runs, and wouldn’t be against doing it for a long run, too – if the run occurred at the right time/place, and wasn’t too expensive! 🙂 Sometimes out here, though, the prospect of fighting the crowds at the start and finish is enough to send me out running my long runs on my own! 🙂

    Congrats on a new distance PR, too! Hey – is Barry running the marathon too?

    1. You call it excellent self control, but a big part of that “control” can be attributed to those hills! I definitely liked having the crowd support along the race course to get me through the final 10 miles!

      Yes, Barry is also running the full in Charlotte! I expect to kiss him good luck at the start line and then get a hug from him at the finish line, but definitely don’t expect to be running together.

  2. Way to go!! 16 miles and a new distance PR! Isn’t it a great feeling when you hit your previously longest distance and then keep going? I find that helps propel me to the finish.

    That sounds like a cool (but hilly!) race. Those winning times are crazy. Barry’s a beast.

    1. I loved hitting 14 miles and then continuing on! I was tired, but I was also enjoying breaking into new distance territory.

      Barry is a beast! And he runs times like that on little to no training, since he is on his feet for 10 hours a day at work.

  3. Wow, I can’t believe you ran 6 miles before the race! Impressive!! I would have planned to race first and then run the 6 miles, and then I never would have run the extra six miles because after the race I’d be too tired. LOL I can’t believe Barry got a PR after running so much before. What an exciting race for both of you. 16 miles!! You can do anything now!

    1. I knew I had to run them before the race. Once I cross that finish line I’m done. That was even more so the case for this race, since it had such big hills.

  4. Great run. A new long distance achievement, Barry’s time record, and all those hills.

    I wish I could have joined you.

    LUD.

    1. We will see you in Charlotte!

  5. Way to stick to your goals and still manage to get 16 miles in there! I am impressed. I would have run 10 miles and called it good! Ha! Hills are a great workout.

    1. My schedule said 16 and as long as I’m not injured/sick it would have driven me nuts to not run the 16.

      Those hills were definitely a good workout. Charlotte is supposed to be rolling, but I’m hoping those Lynchburg hills are not Charlotte’s definition of rolling. I’d be in big trouble! I don’t think so, since the total elevation gain for the full at Charlotte is somewhere around 1100 feet.

  6. 2000+ ascent in that distance it beastly. Well done!! Also congrats on the 16 miles!!! You have such willpower to go run AFTER a race. Usually I finish and am like “nope, that was good!” Can’t wait to see you crush so many more distance records en route to your marathon!!!

    1. Woohoo! Beast mode! To be clear, I ran my 6 miles before the race. There was no more running once I crossed that finish line for the 10 miler 🙂

  7. Great recap and I love that you completed your additional six miles prior to the race so that the race carried you through the last ten miles. Do you have any other races lined up before the marathon?

    1. I loved having the crowd support (and water stops) at the race to get me through the final 10 miles. It was a definite win-win situation.

      No more races until Charlotte! And just 4 more long runs until taper time.

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