Friday, June 29, 2012

Better Luck Next Time: The Solstice Run 10K (Northville, MI)

En Route to the Race

Solstice Run 10K on Saturday, June 23, 2012 in Northville, MI.

My good friend JD and I ran a summer 10K together not too long ago.  While the race itself was terrific, JD and I have some work to do in the future if we’re going to try to run another race together.  But I’ll get to that in a moment.

Early on race-day morning, I woke up easily and went through my routine: washing up, sunscreen, running clothes, you know the drill.  I ate something fast and easy for breakfast—probably toast with peanut butter and a big glass of water—and snuck outside for a few early morning photos.  JD showed up around 6:30 AM and we headed over to Northville, which is a suburb of Detroit not too far from where my brother and his family live.

(Can I just take a moment to say how I am falling more and more in love with Michigan every time I return for a visit?  I know part of it is the vacation effect because I usually take a break from my own work when I’m visiting family, but seeing Michigan through an adult’s eyes is quite different from my experience growing up in the area.  The food, the fun we can have with the kids, the gorgeous summers and spectacular fall foliage…I miss the Midwest so much sometimes.  I love Texas, especially my friends and my work, but I miss my family and sharing my days with them.  I’m sure I will touch on these feelings more on my other blog, but boy do I feel torn between people and places.  Thank goodness for plane tickets and a we-can-do-this attitude.)

JD and I arrived in Northville, and our race started promptly with three huge road hills in the first mile.  The 10K had a lot of participants, and the start of the race was really crowded.  We started out slowly, thinking that we would use the first mile to warm up, but the crowd made it difficult for us to settle into a decent warm-up pace—I felt itchy to get going, and JD and I played follow-the-leader a few times before I darted ahead of him…and that was the end of our running together.

Check Out That Hill!

A view of one of the hills in the first mile of our race.  (Photo taken on the drive home after the race.  We were not dodging cars during our 10K!)

I was certain that he was right behind me, and that I couldn’t see him through the crowd.  I ran steady, easy, 10-minute miles for the first three miles, turning around occasionally to see if I could find him and resume our run together again.  At the three-mile point, I started running sideways, very slowly, to give us a chance to find each other again…but JD was nowhere to be found.  I jogged slowly for perhaps 30 seconds or a minute, hoping to see my buddy, but no dice.  At that point, I had to decide if I was going to run the rest of the race looking for him or if I was going to race the last three miles.  To be honest, I was ready to race.  I wanted to race.  Even if my final time wouldn’t reflect a real 10K race, I wanted to feel like I was flying.  And so, I raced.  It was hard and glorious and I pushed myself to finish strong.  I clocked in at 56:09, so that meant:

3 miles at 10:00/mile

3.2 miles in 26:09 or a pace of approximately 8:11 per mile (or thereabouts.  I double-checked my math, but 8:11 still seems fast to me…)

Assuming my math is correct, I am very happy that I was able to pull off 3.2 miles at 8:11 per mile.  During my training for this 10K, I struggled to run my long runs in the Texas heat, and while I did a bit of speedwork in the week before the race, I wasn’t even planning to race the 10K.  I was supposed to be running it with JD, at a pace that worked for both of us, but well—we failed to do that.

Why did we fail?  I want to say it’s all my fault, but JD disagrees.  We had talked about pace before the race: our plan was to warm up by running the first (hilly!) mile in about 11:00, and then we would settle into a 10-minute-mile pace.  I had assumed that I would be happy to run at JD’s pace, whether that meant working hard to keep up with him or running a comfortable pace through the streets of Northville.  But then three things happened that surprised us both.

One.  We lost each other early and could not find one another again.

Two.  It turns out that on a race day, I want to race.  I feel compelled to race.

Three.  JD was more tired than he realized until we hit those hills in mile one.  He’s been running races all month, and we think that perhaps his legs were not well-rested for this race.  Sometimes you just run out of steam—that’s true in running and in life.

I have hope that JD and I can run a race together in the future.  We’ve done plenty of training runs together at a pace that felt right for both of us.  My feeling is that we might even be able to (oh my gosh, I can’t believe I’m about to say this…) run our first marathons together.  It’s a distance that JD wants to run some day, and I’ve just begun thinking about whether the marathon is something I might want to do…some day.  Not now.  Not this year.  But maybe some day.

I’ll end by saying a few words about the Solstice Run 10K as an event.  In a word, it was awesome.  It was well-organized, took us through beautiful neighborhoods, had plenty of water stations and food at the end, and cheerful spectators.  I like the 10K as a race distance and would love to do another one.  Next time, I’ll be more focused on racing the full 10K.

Onward and upward, friends!


  1. I fully believe that you clocked 8:11s for those last 3 miles. You have some serious speed in those gams of yours, my friend!

    (Can I note that I am feeling the opposite right now? I'm really tired of the Upper Midwest and feel so ready to leave it. Of course, I have no family ties in the region, so that makes a difference. I also might feel differently if I lived in a city of any size.)

    1. Aw, you are so kind! I want to get *even faster* at the 10K and half-marathon, too. I feel like speedwork and reasonable mileage will be my running plans for the near future. I don't think a marathon is the right goal for me now, but I'd like to work toward some new running goals. Sub-50:00 10K, anyone?

      (You know, I can understand that too. You seem like you enjoy city life quite a bit, and being close to a big-city airport makes life much nicer when you travel a lot for work and pleasure. And I certainly have moments when I wish it were time to leave Texas, but I remain committed to my job, and I need to finish that obligation before I fly away. Actually, what I really want is to be a migratory bird and spend summers in Michigan and winters in Texas. Doesn't that sound nice? And you and I could meet in Chicago or Seattle for a race and some great food.)

    2. (It's true. I do enjoy city life a lot. You know, there is a pretty big group of running bloggers who are planning to run the Chicago Marathon in 2013. I'd really like to cross this one off my list, especially after my DNS last year. What do you think about meeting up there for 26.2?)

    3. (Oh, Chicago! That's where I ran my first half-marathon. You know, I love the idea of running the Chicago Marathon in 2013. It's far enough out that I could work on my goals of running a faster 10K and half-marathon, and then I could shift gears and focus on distance. I can't commit to a marathon until I know more about the rest of my life, job-wise and location-wise, but I will keep it in mind! And of course I would love to meet you, in Chicago or somewhere else. We will run together someday, friend!)

  2. It's so tricky to race with someone! My friend Amy and I did some races together in Texas, but that meant that we trained together, and started the race together, and then she pulled ahead in the second half, because she's a natural speed demon and has the word's longest legs. We always made sure to discuss this plan beforehand, so I never felt left behind when the inevitable happened.

    Also, I want to run Chicago with you and Raquelita! If this happens for real, I must be included.

    1. Ahhhh! Yes! Okay, now that we have two votes for Chicago 2013, I think we must make this happen. Since the race itself is usually on a Sunday, chances are good that I'll be available for race day plus travel beforehand. The worst-case scenario for me would be a Chicago-Texas trip; the best-case scenario would be that I have moved back to the Midwest, so a Chicago trip would be less grueling, timewise, and less demanding, moneywise.

      (Actually, the thing that worries me the most is that I would have a job and not be able to take a day or two off around marathon time...but most jobs are not THAT inflexible, right?)

      Let's do this! I am pumped.

    2. It's in October, and I will still be a student (last year, so sad) but I bet I could get away for a weekend. Money is the big issue, but if I start saving now... :)

    3. Yes, I hear you on the money thing! A destination marathon (a MARATHON!) is an expensive proposition between the flight, hotel, meals, transportation, race adds up. But I feel like this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, the chance to run a marathon with my favorite blog friends. I don't want to say no because of the cost or because of uncertain life circumstances. After all, budgets can be made and followed and requests for time off can be anticipated. Let the planning begin!