I've learned in my short time in this sport to never say never, but seriously. Never.
On to the Tar Heel 10-miler recap. That's why you're here anyway, right?
The race started in the UNC-Chapel Hill football stadium. This was a big marketing point for this race, although I actually think it was a terrible idea.
That line of people extending from the START line all the way around the stadium? Yeah, it kept going. I lined up behind the 10-minute mile pacers and was basically all the way across from the start line, with many more people behind me. Once the gun went off, I didn't actually start moving for what seemed like years and by the time I got to the start line, the clock was already at almost 9 minutes. And that's where I started to freak out for the first time during the race. I think the stadium start could have been a good idea had this been a much smaller race.
The temperature for the race wasn't bad (60 degrees) but the humidity had to be hanging around 100%. My plan was to stick close behind the 10-minute pacers, but after about the second mile at an average of 9-minute miles, I couldn't even see the pacers anymore because they were so far ahead of me. What's the point of even having the pacers?! Really really frustrating.
The first 4-ish miles I felt like we were repeating the same route over and over, which was basically hill after hill after hill. Around mile 4 I was already drenched in sweat and frustrated at the route and was so ready to quit. A DNF didn't sound so awful at that point. Around mile 5 I passed a woman vomiting up all her hydration stores and realized that I was ok and things could be worse! I finally was able to get some sports drink and it gave me back a bunch of motivation (it's the little things in life).
It wasn't until after I passed the water station that I realized that was the station with GU and that I just screwed up and didn't get any. Frustration returning.
The next 3/4 of a mile was entirely downhill and was so amazing...until we turned another corner into another hilly neighborhood. I did a lot of walking the next couple of miles. My quads were tight and I was out of water and wishing I'd had that GU. At the mile 8 water station (yes, two miles before the finish line), I was able to grab a GU and more water. Why did I do this so close to the finish line? I knew what was coming.
|Entrance to Hell.|
It's probably a good thing this wasn't closer to the beginning of the race or pulling a DNF probably would have been even more tempting. The best part of it was about halfway up, there was a dude cheering us on in a bathrobe and slippers.
Fast forward to the finish, aka-where everything kind of fell apart.
As I was approaching the finish line, the announcer was yelling for people to hurry to section 301 (I'm making up this number because I don't remember what the actual number was) in the bleachers for their medal and food. All I wanted at this point was a sports drink or water. I *think* I was handed a sports drink (or else I picked it up. I don't remember that either), and had to ask a random stranger if she'd mind opening it for me. All I wanted to do was down it but was being shooed up into the bleachers.
Mike and my new friend (actually his friend, whom I just met after the race. I make strangers my friends if they come highly recommended by my actual friends :), Nicole found me and showed me the dude handing out medals. Up in the bleachers. Strangest thing ever. He didn't even put it around our necks. Also, they look pretty cheap compared to the ones from last year. But I digress.
|Purple. I know, you're all shocked.|
Once I felt like I was hydrated enough to form sentences again, we went in search of food. After a trek around the outside of the stadium, the only food to be found was banana halves. So I ate one and tried to imagine it was a bag of chips or a bagel. To no avail.
As with every race, the volunteers and police support were awesome and I was pleasantly surprised by all of the people in the neighborhoods who came out to cheer for us.
Unfortunately the cons outweighed the pros for me in this race. There were far too many people for the starting venue and the finish felt haphazard and poorly planned. Mike said this was his best race so far, which is awesome! Will I run this race again next year? Probably not. But I'm glad I did it this time.