Charlotte Racefest is an annual race here in town, but it was completely new to me. It supposed to be in April, so it was canceled in 2020, and they moved the 2021 date to June which was great since North Carolina’s COVID restrictions were lifted in May. The race is a half marathon and 10K.

While I hadn’t heard of the race before this year (not sure why), I came across it in my race research earlier this year. I didn’t sign up for the 10K yet because I wasn’t sure if I should do a lot of races during training, and I didn’t want to miss out on a lake weekend. Luckily, my parents went on vacation this week, so I was home. Unfortunately, when I went to register earlier this week, the 10K was sold out! I am not in shape to complete a half marathon, so I was really bummed. Then when I was surfing the interwebs on Wednesday or Thursday night, I saw it. No joke, but the registration page said “1 spot remaining” for the 10K. I jumped right on that. Not sure if it was an error or what, but I wasn’t asking any questions.

Check-In

The race and check-in were at Armored Cow Brewing Co., which was new to me. Personally, I thought this was a great location for pick-up and race start. It’s a large brewery and there is a TON of parking! Check-in was really easy. You checked in to get your bib then went to another station to pick up your shirt and bag. I think something definitely was off because I didn’t get a normal gold bib that the 10K racers received. Mine was black, so I’m thinking I snuck in. The race shirts were cute, too.

The Race

They did it for COVID protocol or because the greenway is narrow, but there were 5 waves. The half marathon started at 7 am and went off in 3 waves followed by two waves for the 10K. Most of the race was on the greenway, which was really nice. I’ve run on it before with the run club, but I don’t run there on my own so I’m not too familiar with it. The 10K (and the first half of the half) was an out-and-back past UNCC. There were two hills at the beginning which reared their ugly head about a mile from the finish. It was not pleasant!

Since it was so hot, the race team had water stations about every 1.5 miles. This was very appreciated, and I took water at the first two stops and a Gatorade at my third. I give major kudos to the half marathoners because it was HUMID!

My Goals

One of the things I’ve read is that you should plan an A, B, and C goal for races, which I think is really smart. My usual goal is usually just to finish, but I’m trying to be more structured. I really debated what my goals should be for this 10K. This was my weekend long run, so it’s supposed to be an easy pace. At the same time, it’s a race environment, so it’s a chance to kick it up a bit! What to do? Finally, around 5:40 am, I decided my goals should be:

  • Goal A: Run at 11:30/mile pace
  • Goal B: Run a heart-rate run
  • Goal C: Finish

My Performance

Well, I know I accomplished C and technically, I accomplished A, but it wasn’t because I was steady. I came out hard. It was so exciting to be part of a race and the was quick out of the gate. Isn’t that the first rule of racing – start out slow? Sigh. I looked down at my watch as I was getting onto the greenway to see I was running a sub-9 minute mile. YIKES! I tried hard to slow down and saw a mid-9 a little later. “SLOW DOWN!” I told myself, “You have 6 miles to go.” Not good to get so frustrated at the beginning, at the same time, I was enjoying the run. I just knew I couldn’t sustain it normally or in the humidity. My first-mile split was 10:03.

The rest of the run, I tried to run slow, but I really struggled. Whenever I looked at my wrist, I was running somewhere in the 10s, when I really needed to get into the 11s. I wouldn’t be able to sustain it, so I would walk (in the 14s). It went on like that for 5 miles. I want to run a steady pace; that’s what I’m worried about for Chicago. I need to focus on pace.

Well, around 5.3 there was a hill. Not just a hill but a BIG hill. So much for running the rest of the way. Almost everyone had to walk up that hill…and that was just the first one! Great course, but wow, those were two killer hills at the end. Poor half marathoners!

The Finish
me with my racefest medal

Luckily, I saved up a lot of gas to sprint at the end. Or at least I felt like I was sprinting. I felt good at the end and was very happy about the race. I was surprised to see my results – I averaged an 11:20/mile pace and finished with my second fastest time of 1:10:02!

Changes

I made a lot of changes to my normal routine, which definitely impacted my performance:

coaster
The medal was made to be a coaster. Haha!
  • Music. I normally run to podcasts or books since they are easy going. When I listen to music I want to sing or dance which wastes energy and causes me to go faster than I should. This likely contributed to my speedy take off, but I had fun listening to my songs when it was a struggle.
  • Pre-race fueling. My race didn’t start until 7:55 am, which is late for me. I have to eat something for a 6 miler, but it’s usually a piece of toast. With a finish around 9:15 am, I knew I was going to need something else. I had a waffle with peanut butter around 6:15 am and decided to have a Huma gel before the race. I think this worked well.
  • Nuun. Since I was nervous about the humidity, I had a Nuun before the race. I’m not sure if that helped at all or if it would have felt worse if I didn’t. My fingers get really big when it’s hot outside, and that still happened today. I’m not sure how to stop that, but I would like to figure it out since it uncomfortable.
  • Nerves. Even though I was just running this for fun and had to do the miles anyway, I still got really nervous before the race. Not sure how to reduce this feeling, but I need to figure it out. Even when I visualize standing at the start line for the marathon I get really nervous…and I’m not even there!