Like we usually do for shorter local races, we waited until the last minute to decide whether or not to run the AdvoKate Charity Run & Walk 10K on August 3. This is the seventh year for this race which, according to the race website, “was established to honor the memory of 6-year-old Kate Hrischuk of Rochester, MI, who lost her courageous battle with an intrinsic brain stem glioma in early 2007” and benefits the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. It supports a great cause and isn’t very far from us, so we really wanted to run this one. In fact, it’s close enough that we were able to jog to the race as a warm up and walk home afterward. This one has been on our radar for a few years, but this is the first year we’ve run it because we’ve had race day conflicts in previous years or we didn’t want to race in extremely hot weather. I found about this race a few years ago when I was out running on the trail that makes up part of the course and saw a water station. I looked up the race (and learned the story behind its origin) when I got home that day and have wanted to run it since. While I’m thrilled we were finally able to run AdvoKate this year, I’m bummed we weren’t able to do the Kayla O’Mara Memorial Road Race, which is another great race for an excellent cause scheduled on the same day. That one’s farther away though, and we were staying close to home this weekend.
Janet picked up our packets at the Runnin’ Gear store the night before the race, so we didn’t have to worry about getting to the race location, Rochester Municipal Park, early to register before the race. This also helped make it possible for us to jog to the race as a warm up because we didn’t have to worry about carrying race packets or t-shirts. Speaking of t-shirts, the race shirt this year is a bright cotton shirt (short sleeves); there was an option to upgrade to a technical shirt for an additional fee, but we opted to just stick with the cotton. We also got Gatorade towels, which will come in handy at the gym, or for running or biking when we’re away from home. We got to the race about 10-15 minutes before the start, which was plenty of time to find the start line and get situated. We were happy to see our friend Bruce at the start line. He’s a great runner and very passionate about the sport. He’s a seasoned marathoner who runs a lot of miles, does some very difficult workouts, and shares his passion for running by coaching other runners. I’m always glad to catch up with him and learn from him.
Janet had 8 miles on her marathon schedule, so she planned to do a 1.8-mile warm up and then the 6.2-mile race to get in her miles for the day. She was aiming to do it as a marathon pace run, so she was planning to run hard but not race it. I haven’t run a 10K since last December and this was only my third race of the year, so I wasn’t sure what to aim for or expect. I decided to set a goal based on average pace and try for a sub-7:00/mile average. The first 2 miles have some rolling hills, including an incline shortly after the start. But once we hit the 2-mile mark we were done with the hills and only had to deal with the slight incline heading heading north on the Paint Creek Trail until the turnaround at the 3.7-mile mark. While the incline on the trail isn’t noticeable to the naked eye, it can definitely have a subtle impact on runners. The flip side of that is that the southbound portion on the trail, from the 3.7-mile mark until just after the 6-mile mark, should feel a little easier. “Should” being the key word…
There were a few race announcements, including a very heartfelt thank you from Kate’s father, and then it was time to start. There’s also a 5K run/walk, and the 5K and 10K start at the same time and in the same location, sharing the course until just after the 2-mile mark. According to the online results, there were 258 participants in the 10K and 347 in the 5K, for a total of 605 participants. We were able to find a spot near the start line, hoping to avoid most of the normal beginning-of-the-race congestion. There were kids lined up all the way across the very front of the start line, 2-3 deep in some spots, so I wasn’t sure how much of a madhouse it would be trying to navigate the first several hundred meters. Luckily I didn’t have any serious issues with being cut off, and I wasn’t bumped into or tripped. After a few hundred meters on the roads, it started to thin out a little bit and I settled into a rhythm. I ended up just behind Bruce as we approached the first noticeable hill. I planned/expected to run about 7:10-7:15 for the first mile, knowing there were some hills on the first couple of miles, but I ended up running a 7:02. It felt pretty comfortable, but the second mile is basically a bunch of rolling hills so I expected to slow down a little bit after the first mile. If you expect to slow down, you usually will, and I ran a 7:07 on the second mile. I figured that if I wasn’t too wiped out by the time we finished the hills and turned onto the Paint Creek Trail, I might be able to start dropping my pace on the final 4 miles. It didn’t work out that way, though, as I felt OK for the most part but just wasn’t able to dial it up. I remained maybe 20-40 meters behind Bruce and another runner, and it seemed like the pace was pretty steady, but we all must have been in a little bit of a lull or something because we were slowing down on the third and fourth miles. I felt like I maintained my effort on those miles, but my pace got a little worse. The turnaround on the trail at about the 3.7-mile mark was a welcome sight, as the course was slightly downhill after that point.
I hoped to really pick it up after the turnaround if I was feeling OK, but I didn’t make up as much ground as I hoped. I did improve my pace, but it was a pretty gradual improvement. I felt pretty good, but I just didn’t feel like I had much of a boost in me at that point. Sometimes I wonder if I subconsciously run conservatively until I’m close to the end of a race to avoid bonking. However, I often feel after a race that I could/should have picked it up a bit more throughout (hindsight is 20/20). Of course I usually don’t feel like that’s an option during the race. I did go sub-7:00 for the last two miles – 6:59 and 6:36 – and was glad that I finished strong. I always like finishing with my fastest mile, but if I finish at a much faster pace than I’ve run the previous miles, I probably should have been running faster throughout the race. Just after the 6-mile mark, the race turned off of the trail and into the park where we ran on sidewalks to the finish line. I tried to pick it up shortly before the 6-mile mark, and felt like I had a good kick. My Garmin showed a 5:03 pace for the last 0.14 and my official time was 42:49…the kick was enough to get me under a 7:00/mile average for the race. I’ll be all set if I can just figure out how to sustain that 5:03 pace for the full 6.2 miles, haha.
Janet finished a few minutes behind me, and she ran a very consistent race though it was about 30 seconds per mile faster than her planned pace. You can read her race recap here. There was a good selection of snacks at the park’s pavilion after the race, including donut holes, bagels, bananas, mini muffins, Clif granola bars, water, and sports drinks. It was great to finally meet a couple of Twitter friends after this race, both of whom also ran the 10K – Laura, who was running her second 10K of the week, and Patrick, who’s training for a marathon. We also saw our friend Sandie after the race and were able to chat with her and catch up some more with Bruce. I got to talk with Kate’s father for a couple of minutes after the race, and he’s a very nice guy.
When we checked the results, we saw that I won my age group and Janet finished second in hers. We didn’t know if there were age group awards, so we stuck around for a while. We would have stayed anyway because there was a raffle using bib tags – there were some cool prizes, and we had to be present to win. We didn’t win any of the raffle prizes, but it was fun sticking around for the drawing. It turns out that there weren’t any age group awards, but we didn’t mind at all because it means the race organizers can donate more of the proceeds to St. Jude’s.
This was a very well-organized race for a great cause, and I had a lot of fun running it. I really like the course, including the hills on the first two miles, and fortunately the non-race traffic on the Paint Creek Trail portion of the course was pretty aware of and considerate to the runners. It can be a crapshoot when you have a race on a public trail or path, but I had no problems on the trail portion of the course. The only issue I noticed is that the course was a little short (6.14 miles per my Garmin instead of 6.20 miles). Because of construction, there were a couple of places where the course deviated slightly from normal, and it could very well be attributable to the construction and/or an unintentional change in tangents like a construction-forced early cutover at a turn, or maybe just a spot along the trail where the Garmin got a little confused. It was only 0.06 miles short though, which didn’t bother me at all. I highly recommend this race, and would definitely like to run it again.
Chip time: 42:49
Garmin time: 42:48 (6.14 miles)
Pace (per Garmin): 6:58/mile
Age group: 1/10
Slowest mile (per Garmin): 7:13 (mile 3)
Fastest mile (per Garmin): 6:36 (mile 6)