This was my second time running the Novant Health Lake Norman 15K in Cornelius, NC. I really like this course because of the distance but also because it has some pretty views of Lake Norman. This is the fifth race in the Run Charlotte Six Pack series. It took place on Sunday, September 25, 2022.
The course has been the same for a few years. It starts at a shopping center in Cornelius and goes on Jetton Rd. down a Penninselua in Lake Norman. There are beautiful houses to look at and views of the water. Some of the houses look different than last year, and I swear they are larger! There are a few that are smaller, and I wish I could buy to have a cottage on the lake.
Overall, the course has steady rolling hills like you find throughout Charlotte. It’s not an easy course, but it’s a nice course. There is a killer hill around mile 7 that always gets me.
It was a beautiful morning! Last year, it was still hot and humid. This year, was a bit chilly and a great day for a run. I think this really helped make a difference for me. My goal was to do this run and maintain my marathon pace for the entire course. It’s hard to walk at the beginning of a race, but I knew I needed to do it to conserve my energy. Jeff Galloway and Coach Twiggs say that is key to finishing a race strong. I think I ran through the first couple of walk breaks because it was just too busy, but eventually, I found my spot.
I felt like I did the full race steady at my 60/30 interval, but my pacing shows otherwise. You can see something happened at mile 4 (was it a hill?) and mile 7 I know was a huge hill! I am proud that I finished my last 2+ miles at a steady mid-11 pace.
My other main goal of this race was hydration. I’ve really struggled with fueling for long runs. My 20-mile run the week before was awful. Everything about it after mile 14 was horrific, and I think a lot of that is due to fueling (or lack thereof). Many runners in Customized Training recommend Tailwind. I was hesistant because I feel like 1. it is marketed for ultra runners, and I am no where close to that, and 2. it creates so much more in terms of logistics. It would be nice to be the kind of person who puts their shoes on and goes out the door then run for miles, but I’m just not.
This was my first race using my hydration vest. I measured out the mL/ounces that were needed based on a 9 mile run (about 3/4 full), then I added about 1 scoop of Tailwind/24 ounces as instructed, which was one single use pack from the running store. It worked really well, and I didn’t feel nauseous at all! I think that was the other reason I was steady. This was probably the first time I was fueled in a race. I didn’t have anything else, but I also didn’t drink all of my Tailwind. According to the instructions, I should have drank all of it to get the proper fueling, but I still had half of it left at the end.
Last year I struggled for the last 3 or 4 miles; I was so tired going up Jetton Rd. This time, I was steady. Or that was, until “How Far I’ll Go” came on in the final 0.75 miles. I was moving, seeing how far I could go…but it was too fast! I had to recover with a walk for a bit and was then able to resume my 60/30 intervals. Eventually, I was back in the shopping center knowing the finish line was just around the corner.
I earned a new 15K PR (1:46:09) and was very pleased. It only beat last year’s time by 23 seconds, but I was steady. Last year I went out fast and flamed out. If I can learn to be steady, then I can accomplish a lot more as a runner and improve my stamina.
The other thing I’ve learned is the importance of post-fueling. I purchased a Tailwind recovery drink and had that after the race as well. Courtney, a nutritionist I heard it on a podcast, said that sometimes you have to force yourself to get it down, but it is really important for your muscles to recover. I never do this because I’m not hungry, but I do think it made me not so hungry later in the day.
Anyway, it was a good day at the lake, and I got the fifth of my six cups. Only one more race of the series to go!