Saturday, March 27, 2010
Ukrops Monument Avenue 10K Report
Today was the sixth year in a row that I have participated in the Ukrops Monument Avenue 10K. It is always a blast, and today was no exception, despite the cold 30 degree start with a slight wind chill going. I stressed last night over what to wear, and finally decided on long pants and a long sleeved black undershirt with my purple TNT race shirt over it. I decided that anything else would be too warm once I got moving, and resolved that I would have to just put up with being a bit cold before the race while standing around. In fact, at about mile 4.5, I finally stripped from the waist up and removed my long sleeved shirt, even though it still had to be little more than 40. I just got too warm.
I parked the car about a half mile or so away and walked towards Monroe Park. I saw some of the TNT 10K team and chatted with a few of them, then looked at some of the displays and vendors in the park, including one for our new minor league baseball team, the Flying Squirrels. Go Squirrels!
Lots of people were milling about the park, trying to stay warm.
Eventually, I checked my little pack with a fleece and vest for after the race, shivering a bit once I took off my fleece. I put on my garbage bag poncho and sat in the sun for a while, hit the porta potties, and walked towards the start. There in the crowd, I spied my friend Kathy and joined her in her corral. We decided to run together until she warmed up and would go on at her faster pace. We spotted this wicked witch in the race crowd, along with Dorothy, ruby slippers and all. How they could run like this is beyond me.
One of the great things about this race is all of the amazing costumes that people run and walk in. There is so much creativity out there! Eventually, our corral neared the start and we were almost ready to go!
I took a look at the photo on the front of my race shirt of my sister Ann. I am running this race in her honor today as she continues her difficult battle with breast cancer. No race is as difficult as her struggle. Our corral got the start signal, and we were off!
Kathy and I ran together for about 7 or 8 minutes, at which point she got warmed up and I was ready to walk for a few minutes. We agreed to look for each lother at the finish. Just past Boulevard was the big Team in Training cheer station at Cate's apartment. Cate is our awesome LLS coordinator for most of the Richmond teams, including mine. It was a great pick-me-up to have these gals cheering for me!
Even though it was cold, the spring flowering trees, like these cherries, were so beautiful along this amazing avenue.
It was a blast to see some people I know along the way. Tina, who just ran her first half marathon at the Shamrock six days ago, was running. I passed Chopper Guy from my Nashville Team who was cheering. And my old pal Chelle was cheering at a point when I was getting a little tired and that was a huge boost to see her.
I had hoped, remotely, to get a personal record today, but I just have not trained enough to do that. So at some point, I realized that I was too far behind that pace to get it and I just tried to enjoy the sights, the crowd, the cheering, the bands, and the whole atmosphere that makes this such a fun race to be in - 37,000 people were running and walking today. I saw more cool costumes, like this couple with their pirate ships about a half mile from the end.
After this point, I picked up my pace a little to cruise to the finish line, a great feeling PR or not - not in this case. I don't know my official time, but think it was around 67 minutes, which would be my second fastest after last year's. Kathy and I found each other in Monroe Park and hung out for a while. Then she left to go home, and I started walking about a half mile or so west to go to my fundraiser at Great Wraps in the VCU area. They were giving LLS 20% of all business I bring in this weekend, so I wanted to go and support them. Along the way, I watched some of the runners coming in and did a little cheering. I saw a number of Team in Training people, including Chuck and Amber. Chuck had finished his race and doubled back to encourage people and run with them for a bit. Amber is our awesome Team in Training director for Virginia and is just amazing. She was doubling as TNT coach in the 10K. I was also thrilled to see Liz and Beverly walking - they were both mentors on my very first team.
Among the participants I saw were these three blind mice:
And a the J.E.B. Stuart Monument, I paused for a second and snapped this shot of people coming down the home stretch.
At Great Wraps, I got a great Buffalo chicken wrap, and was joined by my friend and teammate Nicki and her boyfriend Mark. They had run the race together and had come to support my fundraiser. Thanks, guys!
From there, I walked the mile or so back to my car. Stragglers were still coming down towards the finish line, but most of the spectators were gone. It was another fun race down beautiful Monument Avenue, thanks to Ukrops, the other sponsors, and thousands of volunteers.