Race Report: 2011 Winter Park Road Race 10k

Monday, March 28, 2011
I was excited about this race, as it was my first-ever 10k and longest race beyond a 5k. Unfortunately, I had been battling a bad cold with congestion all week, so I knew that it might make race day a bit more of a challenge. I was thankful though to have gotten somewhat better by the end of the week. The coughing and congestion still lingered though, the former of the two kept me from getting as much sleep as I would have liked the night before the race (of course the excitement of the race prevents some of that as well). 
Race morning, I awoke at a quarter to 5am, revving to go. My stomach was a flutter with a mixture of nervousness and joy at what the morning might bring. I ate my oatmeal breakfast and got showered and ready to go. After a struggle the evening before as to what to wear, I was glad that I settled on the capris as the weather was a bit cool out that early in the day. I would have preferred a better top, but a previous race shirt is always a comfort for me during training, so I went with the one from my last 5k.
My dad came along to this race as my photographer and support and I was more than glad to have him along. He had never been to one of my race events before, so I was looking forward to sharing this big accomplishment with him. Mom would have come along too, but since she had to work later in the day, I didn't want to ask her to lose sleep. Anyway, dad would get pictures that she could see later.
At about 6:15am, dad and I were off in the car enroute to Winter Park. It's about a 45-minute drive from my parents house, so I wanted to ensure that I arrived at the race location with enough time to find parking and to of course make a pre-race port-o-let stop. I cut down on my water intake a bit before leaving home so as to ensure that I wouldn't have to worry about mid-race urgings. 
I got to the starting line area about 10 or so minutes before the horn went off which was good. I ended up striking up a conversation with a guy who had just completed the 2-miler and was doing the Distance Dare challenge. I told him that was something I'll definitely be aiming for in the future as I continue to increase my mileage. One step at a time though.
Before I knew it, the horn blared and we were off. As I hit the starting line, I started my iPod with my 10k playlist. While I love music podcasts like Motion Traxx and Podrunner, I wanted some actual songs for the race. I ended up with a variety of upbeat rock and pop tunes that spanned from the 1980s up until current stuff.
The first couple of miles of the route were pretty easy, less for the brick surface that adorned some of the streets of Winter Park. That's the one thing I wasn't looking forward to, the brick road portions. I'm definitely not a fan of brick roads. They are harder on your legs and back. My preference is simple black asphalt like most roads which is primarily what I train and workout upon. When possible during the race, I opted for the sidewalk as it was a bit more comfortable and consistent.
I ended up downing most of my Gu gel around mile two. This was a bit earlier than planned, but I wasn't sure if there was a water stop at the halfway point (forgot to check). I'm still not a big fan of the gels, but I'm getting more used to them. They do seem to help out enough to make them worth carrying along.
The route for the Road Race passed along a lot of nice, upscale houses in the city. I found myself thinking that these folks must be professionals like doctors and lawyers to afford such large homes. A bit more to look at than my usual fairly mundane neighborhood back at my parents home. There were a few spectators and supporters along the way which always makes you feel good when you are out there pounding the pavement. 
Miles three and four came pretty easy for the most part. I did have some slight numbness starting up in my left leg when I was in the fourth mile, but I did a few stretches as I walked and thankfully, it eased up. By the time I hit the five and a half mark, I admit I was anxious to see the finish line. Also, my Nike+ was telling me that I was almost done when I truly wasn't. It ended up being a full 1k off from the actual race route for some reason. Talk about deceptive motivation. The Nike+ voice was telling me I was 400 feet from the finish line when I was not.
As I hit mile six, I started to do a few running sprints. I did two or three of them before my final sprint at about 300 or so feet from the finish line. It's not advisable for me to run, but I do run across the street during my workouts and I find myself inspired to push a bit to do some sprints at the races like this. It makes me feel good to finish strong like that. My dad and friends, Kitzzy and Jason were at the finish line and both dad and Jason got a few great shots of my victory which is appreciated. I love being able to have photos documenting my accomplishment. I did it, I conquered the 10k! My final d-chip time was 93 minutes, which is a bit slower than I wanted (I had wanted to finish in 90 minutes or less), but I'm still happy with that. Now, I've got a time to beat when I take on my next 10k race. 
As an added note, I injured my back almost exactly a year before this race. The last race I ran before getting hurt was the Winter Park Road Race 2-Miler which took place a couple of weeks earlier in March 2010. I was hurt on March 31st. So, this accomplishment, being about to stay strong and get back out there even power walking is something I am thankful for. Being active is a part of my life now. I can't imagine life without walks, bike rides, hiking and other fun outdoor activities.
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