Name of the race: Perfect 10-Miler
Where: Mercer County Park, West Windsor Township, NJ
Date: October 23, 2016
Time: 8:00 am
Distance: 10 miles
Terrain: Mostly flat, small rolling hills
Entry fee: $85 (I received a free entry as a prize for signing up 10 runners to Rutgers Unite Half Marathon earlier this year.) $18 fee for race day bib pick up.
Swag: Tech shirt, race photos, and finisher’s medal
Post-race Food: Roast chicken wrap, pretzel, artisan granola, TastyKake Krimpets, banana, apple slices, Nestle chocolate milk, Coke, and water.
Performance: Overall and Gender: 88/1784; Age (35-39): 25/388
Weather: 46 degrees, 57% humidity
This past spring I was a race ambassador for the Rutgers Unite Half Marathon. I was pleased to be selected because I ran a different race that CGI puts on, Philly’s The Love Run in 2015 and greatly enjoyed it. As a part of my race ambassador duties for Rutgers Unite, I advertised the race and encouraged people to sign up. I was successful in getting 10 people to register using my code, so CGI gave me a free race entry to this race, Perfect 10-Miler.
This is my first all-women’s race. I have complicated mixed feelings about all-women’s races, mostly stemming from the narrow stereotypical views of what it means to be a woman and to celebrate womanhood. To be clear, I don’t have a problem with people wearing tutus, or boas, or drinking champagnes, or anything like that. My problem is when that role or that option is the ONLY one that’s available. Anyway, this topic is a post for another day.
I woke up early so I could drink coffee before the 1.5 hour drive. I thought arriving 45 minutes before the race would be plenty of time, but there was quite a bit of parking congestion. By the time I parked, it was 7:40 and I was worried about getting my bib and using the facilities in time. Thankfully the race was delayed by 10 minutes because of the long parking back up, so there was plenty of time before the race started.
I was forced to start in the 11:00 min corral because the size of the corrals were really small relative to the size of the field. I feel kinda lucky that I even got to start there because I had to climb over a temporary barrier to get there, otherwise, I would have been in the 12:00 corral.
Finally we started. The first quarter mile was tough because it was super congested and slow. I try not to do surges early in the race, but I had no choice in order to try to get out of the sardine can. Once I made my way out of the congestion, I settled down to run, which was still a bit difficult until about Mile 2. I was running faster than the people I started out with, so I quickly moved up in the field. Once I was past the initial pocket of congestion, I had some open space, but then there were pockets of congestion. I wove in out and out until I got to some more open space. Around Mile 2 I finally got past most of the congestion and settled down.
The good thing about started so far back was that I was forced to go slow for the first mile. My legs felt a little sluggish at first, but then they warmed up and moved nicely. My goal was to run this race at an 8:20 pace. The first four miles were ticking by and I was right on pace.
Miles 5 & 6 I was feeling really good and my legs flew. These were the fastest splits I ran. I was starting to feel tired, but still good, so I slowed, but I was running faster than the first half of the race. I assessed how I felt and decided that I could negative split this race. Each mile I focused on running well and not slowing down. I was happy with how well I was running after the Steamtown fiasco. I quickly did some math. I knew I wasn’t going to PR (1:20:38 from Cherry Blossom 10-Miler in 2014), but I knew that this would be my second fastest stand alone 10-miler. I was pumped!
The course was in a corner of Mercer County Park, which meant that we did a ton of weird back and outs and snaking around to get the full 10 miles. The toughest part was toward the end when I running toward the sounds of the finish line, but I actually had to run PAST and AWAY from the noise to do one last back and out. I was so happy and relieved at the last turnaround. On the straightaway to the finish line, I sprint as fast as I could. Out of nowhere a lady outsprints me and narrowly beats me. Good job, lady!
My final time was 1:21:54. I was excited that I had such a solid race three weeks after running a marathon. I didn’t feel any stress from running fast. I was prepared to run slower and treat it as a training run, if my legs weren’t up for racing, but they were ready to go.
I grab a medal from a bow-tied male volunteer and get my bag o’ food from the food stand. I really appreciate it when food is handed to us in a bag because I have a hard time holding onto all my food on a late, or worse, when we need to simply just carry everything in our hands.
Out of all the races that CGI puts on, this is my least favorite. I’m not crazy about the course, partially because it’s not particularly interesting and partially because of the all the twists and turns. Aside from the long line for parking, the race is well-organized in the typical way that I expect from CGI Racing. One of the draws of an all-women’s race is that there’s supposed to be a different atmosphere than in a co-ed race. It didn’t feel any different to me, but perhaps this is because I went in there with my usual race mindset.