How do you feel about running a race without specific time goals?
I’ve noticed a little bit of discussion about this topic lately, particularly Michelle from Fruition Fitness’s post on How to Run for Fun. It’s funny how this is a lot harder than you would think! Even if you’re not the fastest runner out there (and you know that I’m not!), you sometimes can’t help but compete against yourself.
Last weekend, I raced the Perfect 10 Miler and this was the opportunity to not worry about my pace and just be in the moment and enjoy myself. After having a disappointing performance in the very humid Rock ‘N Roll Philly Half Marathon in September, I wanted to get out of my head and take what the day gave me. Thankfully, in the end, I ended up having a great race! Let me tell you all about it!
Disclaimer: I am a 2016 Perfect 10 Miler Ambassador, meaning that my race registration was free. As always, my opinions are completely honest!
I’m so excited to share my recap of the Perfect 10 Miler! This race really came by without much fanfare…it wasn’t something that I talked much about on the blog, but it’s been on my calendar for months since becoming a race ambassador. Clearly, I’ve been in a bit of a tunnel-vision mode with the Philadelphia Marathon less than a month away. I had the Perfect 10 Miler on my training plan as part of a “step back” week, and I really wanted to stick to my goals:
I had an event to attend at Lincoln University on Saturday morning, so I wasn’t able to get to the Race Expo until about 2:30 pm. The drive to Lincoln was 1.5 hours, then once I was done I had to drive nearly 2 hours to get to New Jersey. The Expo was open from 9 am to 4 pm, so I ended up missing a lot of the activities that were offered, like the pampering party. We were unlucky to have horrible weather on Saturday: windy, rainy, and cold! The Expo was held inside a skating rink which unfortunately was not heated, and since I had the beginnings of a sore throat, I wanted to get my things and go home as soon as I could. I did take plenty of pictures though – there were plenty of vendors on hand and lots of Perfect 10 Swag. Usually, I try to buy something a little extra, but I just wasn’t in the mood. I also went to the Clinique makeup station which I thought would be interactive…I was just told that I could buy some gift baskets…so I kept it moving. I also bought a fruit smoothie in a vain attempt to get some Vitamin C…and it was pretty good, but had the consistency of a slushie. As you can tell, I was a bit grumpy…maybe because I spent almost the entire day in the car!
I woke up around 5:30 to get ready for the race. Since we had Bret’s family in town that weekend and a lot going on, I ended up going to the race solo, which really was for the best. I ate a Cinnamon Swirl UCAN Snack Bar as my pre-run fuel and hit the bathroom before getting in the car around 6:30 am for my hour-long drive back to New Jersey. The good thing was that since I did make the drive the day before, I had no anxiety about race-day logistics, though we were taken a different route to the entrance of the race.
I ended up parking my car on a hill in Mercer County Park among countless drivers. I was really surprised to see there were so many participants of the race! As soon as I could, I made my way to the line for the bathroom. As I was waiting I saw my friend Marisa! I first met her through our local engineering organization but lately, she has been very active in the running community. We took a quick selfie that I’ll have to steal from her later!
Since it’s an all women’s race, we were able to use both the men’s and women’s rooms, but I should have used the men’s…in the women’s room, it was discovered that someone had an unfortunate mishap in one of the stalls…I’m just gonna say it: There was shit all over the wall, toilet handle, and back of the seat. How??? And guess who was lucky to get to use that stall? It.was.gross. This is a public bathroom WITH toilet paper! That woman should have cleaned up her mess. No excuse.
Due to the long wait to the bathroom, I ended up being in the final wave. From my understanding, we weren’t assigned to specific race corrals, so people lined up where they wanted to. If I had arrived earlier to the race, there’s no doubt that I would have moved closer to the front. Being in the back ended up being a gift and curse. There seemed to be a slight delay in the race due to people trying to get into the park, but in any event, I started the race at 8:20.
Being in the final wave made things pretty frustrating the first half of the race. It was impossible to get in a good groove because there was always someone in my way. It was cool to see the women ahead of me as we started off on the course in Mercer County Park. I wish I had taken a picture! Because one of my goals for the Perfect 10 Miler was to enjoy the scenery, I did something I haven’t done for a race in quite some time – ran with my cell phone in my hand. This quickly proved to be a really bad idea. While we did pass some farmland and some fall-colored trees on the course, it wasn’t very photogenic. I ended up bumping into someone while trying to pass and my phone got knocked out of my hand. Ugh. As soon as I could, I stepped off the course and placed my phone in my Orange Mud Hydraquiver pack, where it belongs! I think I was already 4 miles in at that point!
Along the course, we passed homes, ran through Mercer County Community College campus, and went along some trails in Mercer County Park that were really nice. My main complaint was that the paths were really narrow and for the amount of participants in the race, it was just too crowded. When we ran on the road, people were regularly pointing out potholes to avoid. Still, I was having a pretty good time and was in the zone, listening to my Ladies of Pop Throwback Thursday Running Playlist.
Splits: 10:53, 10:55, 10:29, 10:24, 10:25.
Finally, around mile 5, I started to feel that I was getting my stride and had enough room to comfortably run. My body just wanted to go faster and faster, and you should always listen to your body, right? LOL! I would regularly find women in front of me to use as a pacer, and I was fortunate enough to be able to pass quite a few despite trying to weave through the narrow road or trail. It seemed to take forever to catch up to and pass the 11-minute pace group but once I did, I was so relieved! I really didn’t look at my watch during the race, but I knew I was making my body work!
The great thing about the race was that there were lots of twists and turns so I never got bored of my surroundings. The weather was absolutely perfect for weather. It couldn’t be any better. Eventually, I could see that the end was near, and of course the last mile was the longest! While heading to mile 9, I saw Camilla, who I was able to gift a free race entry. I hope she had a good race! I also saw Marissa on the course as she was making her way to the finish. Somehow, I had more gas in my tank and kept pushing. I really felt strong!
Just as we’re nearing the finish line, a woman approached me and asked if she could finish the race with me because she had been using me(!) as a pacer! Well of course I said yes…I was in disbelief! So we set off and finished the race together – you can see her in my finish line photo! I was going so fast the last hundred meters that my water bottle flew out of my pack! I had a huge smile on my face the whole way and we high-fived once we were done. I knew that this wasn’t a PR race, but I felt like a superstar!
Splits: 10:07, 10:05, 9:33, 9:11, about 8:30.
I stopped the clock on my watch and somehow, while at many points I was a little over the mileage at each marker, I ended up with only 9.98 miles. My official race time was 1:40:34, a 10:04 pace. Due to starting so far back and bobbing and weaving so much, this wasn’t a PR race, but I didn’t want it to be. I achieved all of the goals that I set, especially the finishing strong, wow!
I was happy to be done with the race and I actually didn’t feel too winded. Since my Orange Mud Hydraquiver water bottle went flying off at the end of the race, I was trying to figure out how I could get it back without disrupting the runners coming to the finish line. Eventually, I was able to locate it on the ground and a nice woman was able to reach it and give it back to me. What a relief, lol!
Since I came to the race alone I really had no interest in hanging around too long, so I picked up my bag of food/snacks and took a few selfies with the race medal. They had a big stage set up where people could go and take photos with the Perfect 10 Miler backdrop, so I decided to line up for good measure. I ended up running into Marisa again, and we talked about the race and running in general. I was also approached by a woman named Gina – she reads the blog and wanted to say hello. It was so nice to meet her!
I headed back on the road to get back to Philly and found out that Bret and his family were getting brunch in Ambler. Since I just happened to be right near the Ambler exit upon receiving this information, I made a right instead of a left and met up with them there. We went to Gyspy Blu, a large, beautiful stone building in downtown Ambler. I don’t know what I was thinking because I didn’t take a photo of my food, but it was fantastic! I got the French toast with breakfast potatoes and it was sooo good!
When I got home, I was feeling pretty sore and just wanted to relax. I caught up on How to Get Away With Murder and took a long, much-needed nap. Mischief managed!
The Perfect 10 Miler is an awesome race! It was great to see so many women running together and encouraging each other. I think this is a great race to add to your fall calendar if you live in the New Jersey/Philly area. CGI Racing puts on a very well organized event and really knows how to throw an afterparty! This is a great race to run with your girlfriends!
Thanks again to CGI Racing for giving me the opportunity to be an Ambassador for the Perfect 10 Miler. This event makes me even more excited to serve as Ambassador to one of their premier events, The Love Run Half Marathon in March! By the way, if you want to save a little money before the price increase, use promo code JANELLELOVE to get $5 off registration!
Would you/have you ever run an all women’s race? Do you have any more races this fall?