Saturday, May 15, 2010

Syttende Mai 10 Mile 2010 Report

Saturday, May 15, 2010
Stoughton, WI

On Saturday I ran the inaugural 10 mile Syttende Mai run.

For those of you who are curious, Syttende Mai is a celebration of Norway's independence from Denmark. The run is in conjunction with a Norwegian festival that happens every year in a small town just outside of Madison called Stoughton. While the 10 mile run is new, the race itself is not. There is a 20 mile race and a 17 mile walk, both of which have been taking place for many years. The 20 mile race is kind of a big deal around here.

I had toyed with the idea of running the 20 mile race previously, but concluded that if I was going to run 20 miles, I might as well run a damn marathon instead. So when I learned that they added the new 10 mile run this year, I signed up for it immediately. I've never raced the 10 mile distance before, but I knew that I would love it - these middle distance races are my favorite.

The course is well known for being a hilly bitch. The 20 mile run starts in downtown Madison and takes you all the way to Stoughton, mostly via backroads. The 10 mile run started at the halfway point, kind of in the middle of farm-land. It's a point to point course, so they bus you around as needed.

(Hand sketched elevation profile from the website. The last half doesn't look too bad, right??? Ha!)

I woke up early Saturday morning and had my typical banana and bagel breakfast. Drove to my best friend's house - she would be my chauffeur that morning. She dropped me off at the start (no parking - you either get bussed there or dropped off) and I got my timing chip, bib, etc.

The weather couldn't have been better. It was sunny without being too hot. I think the high was supposed to be around 65 degrees. A perfectly gorgeous day. I milled around for a while and then lined up when it was time. A 3 - 2 - 1 and we were off!

I'm running with the crowd and thinking, "This is just great. It's pretty flat right now and I'm feeling good." About a third of a mile in, we turned a corner and... now THAT'S a hill! Holy crap. They ain't lying about the hills. So we climb. And climb. Garmin beeps to tell me that we're a mile in. And still climbing. Damn. We reach the crest of the hill and then we go down! And down some more. I'm trying to run faster on the downhill to make up for the time wasted going up. Just before mile 2, we hit a shorter hill, but it's still a hill. Climb that one. See my BFF waiting for me. She asks me how I'm doing and I respond with something about lots of hills already.

I settle into a rhythm and just keep on trucking. I'm kind of ignoring my pace at this point and just trying my best not to expend too much energy going up and making up some time while going down. I pet a dog at mile 3. I pass dozens and dozens of walkers (they started earlier than us). They're not in the way too much - there is next to no traffic on these backroads. Plus the some of the walkers will cheer you on as you pass them, so that's a nice bonus. There's not a whole lot of crowd support, but the people that live out there are out in their yards watching.

I take a gel at mile 5 and chug some water. In the near distance, I see my coworker who runs a lot of the same races as me. I wait for a minute for her to catch up to me. We run together for a little over a mile before she declares that I should go on because she's going to stop and walk for a bit. Pet a cat somewhere around mile 6 and my BFF finds me again. Unfortunately she forgot her camera. Still constantly going up and down hills. There's not a lot of relief. Around mile 7 we hit yet another beast of a hill. Why did I sign up for this again?

Thankfully that was the last bad hill. We're getting out of farm-land and heading into Stoughton now. We run along the side of a highway, which is mostly flat, but still with a slight uphill. The lead 20 mile guy passes me at this point, which was cool. I knew I was slow enough to get passed by the lead men eventually. He's booking it. I cheer on the lead guys as they pass me. One of them is wearing a pair of Vibrams.

I know that the last two miles are mostly downhill, so I just hang on and prepare to drop the hammer then. Mile 8 takes us into a residential area and I hit the last water stop. Okay, time to go. I love running races where the end is either flat or downhill because I know that I can go faster without losing it. My friend finds me again shortly after the water stop. She runs with me for a minute, but she's wearing flip flops so that doesn't work too well. She tells me she'll see me at the finish.

The last mile is absolutely great. You run through downtown Stoughton and it feels like the whole city is out for the festival. I high five what feels like hundreds of kids. Fantastic crowd support through the final stretch. There's a good downhill in this portion where I just let go. Look down at my Garmin and see 8:38 for my pace. Yikes! I know I can't hold that and dial it back just a bit when it's flat again. Finish with a kick and think that I made it in under 1:45. Pick up my finisher's t-shirt (no early packet pick up - you only get the shirt if you finish!) and head for the food. Overall, a very nice race. I'll probably punish myself again with this next year.

Gun time 1:44:50


Mile 1 - 10:49
Mile 2 - 10:23
Mile 3 - 10:37
Mile 4 - 10:32
Mile 5 - 10:57
Mile 6 - 10:16
Mile 7 - 10:23
Mile 8 - 10:30
Mile 9 - 9:51
Mile 10 - 9:22

I'm pretty happy overall with my time, especially with all those hills. For those of you who know more than I do, what does it mean that I'm running the last mile at my 5K pace? That I need to run faster 5Ks, or that I didn't run hard enough during the rest of the race? (To be fair, I haven't run a 5K in a year now, so honestly I'm not really sure of my true 5K pace.)

I've been waiting for official race photos to get posted online, but still nothing. So sadly I end this report without a picture.

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