Well, it’s another race in the books, the RC Cola and Moon Pie Festival 10 Mile Race (that’s a long name!). The day started out with me rolling out a little later than I wanted as per usual. I still got there in plenty of time and totally passed up the $5 parking next to downtown Bell Buckle to park free a half mile a way. I walked down to the finish line to pick up my bib number and timing chip and I also got a t-shirt. I thought about skipping the t-shirt and the walk to take it back to my car, but it had an RC Cola and a Moon Pie dancing on the front. How can I pass that up?

When I got back to the car, I noticed that my draw string was not tied on my shorts. I chose to do nothing and just left it until I got to the start line. Once I arrived I spot an old buddy from my home town and we chatted right up to race time. The gun sounded (or rather someone said ready, set, go, I can’t remember really) and most everyone took off. I just stood around and waited for the fast runners to push on through and took up my spot in the back. Then disaster struck! I had forgotten to tie my draw string and my shorts started inching down (weighed down as the were by 3 GU packs). I thought about leaving them for a few seconds, but decided to try tying them while running. It was touch and go there for a few seconds, but finally, success!

With that drama out of the way, we started up the first of many, MANY hills. I knew about the killer one at mile 4.5, but that’s not the only one on the course, just the biggest. I got to the first mile marker ahead of my goal pace, so I banked a little there. The same at the second mile marker which was just some guy with a stop watch and a big 2 painted on the road. I popped a GU as I ran past and picked up some water even though I wasn’t thirsty yet.

The race director decided to mess with everyone’s heads at mile 3 and put up the mile 2 marker there. I was still banking time at this point, but the killer hill was still to come. There were a couple of hills in the second and third mile that were pretty big and I thought maybe those might the big one, but they weren’t. The big one really is at about mile 4.5 or so.

I finally got to the big hill and it is BIG. It is less than a quarter mile long, but it is extremely steep and I decided to use those banked minutes and I walked it. Pretty much everyone in my immediate area walked it except one girl who ran the exact same pace through mile 7, even up the big hill. At the top there was a small water stop, but I missed it and decided to keep on keeping on.

For the next couple of miles I paced a couple of girls in green shirts who were sisters apparently. This is what I gathered from the conversation around me anyway. I don’t do any talking during these races as I am trying my best to keep breathing at a regular pace and not pass out. I had popped another GU at mile 4 and still held one in reserve at mile 6. There I opted for water and Gatorade and skipped the GU since I couldn’t really tell that I was getting any benefit from the ones I’d already used.

Around mile seven I started walking periodically because the heat was starting to build. Some clouds had gathered at the start of the race, but the heat had soon burned them off and now it was burning into me. I did interval running through miles 7 and 8 and into 9, walking up the hills and through the water stations. And thank goodness for the unannounced water stop at mile 9 where 6th Congressional District candidate Brett Carter had set up with some ice cold water and some friendly volunteers. If I lived in the 6th, he’d have my vote!

After finishing my mile 9 water and walking to the top of a small hill, I started my run for the finish. It was slow and plodding and people were passing me left and right, but I was running. I managed to keep it going until the finish line came into sight and I decided that I’d sprint in like a champ. I passed back several of the people who had just passed me and almost ran past the chip collection station. I turned around and let them cut my chip off while I stood there in a daze. Then I took my bottle of water and headed for the car (which was a half mile away instead of right across the street. Damn my cheap ass!).

After arriving at my car I decided I’d skip the buffet and call it a day. I stripped down to my underoos, toweled off, put on a dry shirt, and drove to the house.

I came in with a time of 1:56:55 which missed my goal of 1:52:00, but I was happy to be under 2 hours and I still managed to shave nearly a full minute off my half marathon pace. Overall this was a fun and well organized race that I’ll probably be running again next year. Come and join me then!