The Tobacco Trail 10 Miler was my A race of the season. One of my goals for the year was to run a sub-70 10 Miler, so this was my shot. I've done this race 3 times in the past, so I definitely know what to expect. The way my training has been going, I know that running sub-7 miles for this distance would be at the edge of my fitness and everything would have to go really well to hit my goal time.
Weather on race morning was unseasonably cold (30 degrees at the start), but I would definitely take that over unseasonably warm. Monte dropped Sara and I off at race headquarters around 8:25, giving us just enough time to go through the bathroom line and jog a short warm up before the 8:50 start. We nailed the timing, but the start was delayed because too many people had tried to get the last shuttle bus, so despite our efforts we ended up standing around in the cold for a bit. I learned that the girl next to me was also shooting for sub-70, so we figured we'd try to keep each other in sight at the very least. About 10 minutes later we were underway.
Everyone thinks the ATT is flat, but there is very little flat on this part of the trail. Granted, there are no hills, but it's nearly all a slight incline or decline. The first 2 miles have a loss of about 130 feet, and though I knew I had gravity on my side, I tried to stay on pace and not go out too fast (6:56, 7:00). Then it's back up another 100 feet in mile 3 (7:09) and down a little in mile 4 (6:56), then flattening out to the turnaround point (7:06). It's an out an back, so it just goes back through flat (7:02), up (7:12), down (6:57), and the last two mile up (7:12, 7:15). Sadly those splits all add up to 1:10:48, so I didn't meet my goal.
Every year my mile 7 split is quite a bit slower than the others (usually about 20 seconds), and I knew this year I couldn't afford to lose so much time. Since I was right on pace through 6, I worked harder to keep my pace close to the target, and when that 7:12 popped up, I was really disheartened. I knew I had one mile of decline before going back up to the finish and would have to make up the time there, and I just didn't. When I passed the mile 8 marker, I realized I'd have to average under 6:50 for the last two miles and at that point the idea of speeding up on an incline just seemed impossible. I had a hard time continuing to push myself when I knew I was not going to meet my goal, and my feelings of disappointment squashed any motivation I had left. In hindsight, I am kicking myself for that mental lapse and wish I hadn't thrown in the towel just because I wasn't going to hit that arbitrary number. On the positive side, I think that loss of focus/will/strength and my subsequent regrets have taught me a little more about myself and about racing, so hopefully I'll be able to use that in the future.
Despite not getting the sub-70 that I've been working for, I did come away with a new PR (previous best was 1:12:57) and finished first in my age group. Sara finished right behind me, and is now the Female Master's State 10 Mile Champion, so the morning was certainly not all bad :)