I’ve been training for the Fort Bliss 10 Miler in the Heat for the last few months. This race has a good reputation, and it did not disappoint. It was well-organized, the views were nice, the water stations were plentiful, and the course was flat. The other variables (the weather and the people I ran with) ended up being top-notch, too. Even though ‘heat’ is in the name of the race, it ended up only being in the 80′s with good cloud cover. Score!
Per Amy tradition, I woke up way earlier than necessary and got to the race site about an hour before the start. The sun wasn’t even up yet!
I used my early arrival as a chance to get all my gear in order. The start was right outside of one of the gym’s on post. (It’s the one I used to work at!) Having a nice locker room with clean bathrooms at your disposal before a race is awesome. I took full advantage. After a few laps walking around the gym to stay loose, my buddies from Wear Blue arrived and we moseyed to the start. Battle Buddy/Running Buddy Julie popped up out of nowhere, and before we knew it (and before we were really ready!) the starting gun went off.
- Mile 1: 10:35
- Mile 2: 10:19
- Mile 3: 10:41
Julie and I had planned to run together, and fellow Wear Blue friend, Jennifer, stuck with us, too. We didn’t have any kind of overall time goal. Our training had been consistent but half the runs were inexplicably crappy. We also knew going in that the weather would be a wildcard factor. Instead of pressuring ourselves with a specific finish time, we aimed to go out slow and finish strong. We obviously felt great the first two miles and were a tad on the too fast side. Whoops! We slowed up after that and settled into a perfect pace just chatting as we ran along.
- Mile 4: 11:48 (<– walk break for fuel)
- Mile 5: 10:49
- Mile 6: 10:43
Jennifer’s gu didn’t agree with her, and she peeled off from us to run/walk until her stomach felt better. Julie and I continued on. As early as mile 4 we started seeing the front-of-the-pack runners who’d already made the turn around and only had a few miles left to go. (The overall male winner finished in under and hour, and the first female was only 10 minutes behind him!) Julie’s boyfriend, Matt, was also running the race. He came barreling so fast out of nowhere that I didn’t even have a chance to get my camera out and snap a picture! He and Julie high-fived and kept trucking on.
This stretch of the race took us out along a few back roads of Bliss that I’d never traveled to. At one point we were on a dusty, desolate section that I’m convinced was the long, boring stretch of the El Paso Marathon that nearly killed me. Let me just say, running that road is ten times more fun with a friend! It also didn’t hurt that at this point were passing a good number of people. The strategy to start slow was paying off!
- Mile 7: 10:36
- Mile 8: 11:29 (<– fuel walk break)
These miles seemed to wash over us in a blur. I’m pretty sure I said, “Mile 7 already?! Mile 8 already?!” I was having so much fun talking and joking with Julie that the race didn’t feel like a race. I mean that in a good way! It just felt like all of our coffee dates; miles ticking away while we discussed every possible thing on our minds both great and small.
- Mile 9: 10:26
- Mile 10: 10:05
About halfway through that second-to-last mile, Julie commented that we’d picked up the pace again. I think that even though I felt good, I was also feeling ready for a break. Perhaps my body was trying to get the run over with. The race is entirely on the cement roads and my knees were talking to me. Plus, you can’t run for over an hour and a half in Texas in August and not get hot, even if it is cooler than expected. We reigned it in a bit with the intention of saving something for the last mile.
That was about the time my stomach tried to convince me that I didn’t really want to run. Judging by how salty I was afterwards, I think it was a bit of dehydration. But with only a mile to go, there was no way I was going to walk. I told myself it was mind over matter and kept putting one foot in front of the other. We rounded the last traffic circle and sprinted our way to a strong finish!
- 10 mile finish time: 1:47:31
- Average pace: 10:45 per mile
I had so much fun and felt fantastic almost the entire race! Julie and I are already discussing our training plans for future races. It looks like I’m going to be doing an 8k in September and a half in October. I might even squeeze in a shorter race or two in between there.
Of course, I can’t end this recap without thanking Julie for running side by side with me and the entire Wear Blue group for being so supportive. Right now, I’m in my happy place, and I like it.