The Wears Valley 15K (in Townsend) race was only the 2nd race I had ran with the KTC Socialites run group. While we haven’t been training for this particular race, my friend Kelly & I have been half marathon training and felt prepared for this race coming off a 9 mile long run last week.
We arrived dark and early Sunday morning to help with registration before the race. Thankfully we had plenty of help, and were cut loose early enough to get our gear together, visit the porta-potty, and get a bit of a warm-up in. The temperature was perfect for racing, but a bit on the cold side for standing around passing out race bibs.
I lined up with the KTC Socialites for the start and Kelly headed back a bit to meet up with Janice (another lady she meets up with for runs.) With the gunshot, we were off. Our first mile took us out on the main road, and then by an RV park. Several people stood outside their motor homes cheering us on, however the bacon I smelled frying taunted me.
Mile 1 – 9:59
The course was described as “rolling” with a hill during the 2nd mile. Around here most every course is some form of rolling, so it can be difficult to know exactly what is meant. My race plan had me saving up umph for later just in case the rolls were difficult hills. The plan was a 10 m/m pace for the first 1/3rd, and I hit it pretty darn close the first mile out.
Midway through the 2ndmiles, I hit the hill and slowed my pace a bit. I worried a bit this wasn’t the big hill, but thankfully it was. It was certainly not the biggest hill I’ve ever ran, but it did slow me down a bit and my paced suffered for it. I much preferred this, however, to spending too much energy on this hill and not having it for later.
Mile 2 – 10:33
Instead of the standard out and back, the course was more of a lollipop shape. We would not be repeating miles 1 & 2, but the 3rd mile brought a water stop and a turn onto the out and back section of the road. During this section I appreciated the downhill, but noticed the 7 mile marker and made note that I’d have a decent hill to face on the way back.
Mile 3 – 9:48
I wanted to pick up my pace a bit for the 2nd 3.1 of the race, but tried to rely more on feeling than time. My early goal had been to keep Kim’s head visible in front of me, and for the most part I could. With all the turns, her blue hat would disappear but then in the straights I’d see it again.
This was the portion I could hear Kelly & Janice talking behind me. I was proud that they were going strong and hoped they hadn’t gone out too fast. Last week was Kelly’s longest ever run, so this 9.3 would trump that and take the longest slot.
Mile 4 – 10:05
Midway through mile 3, I started to see the leaders of the race, followed by the rest of the pack turning around. Part of the way through mile 4, I hit the turn myself. Just before, I took a GU and some water. I had been sipping from my water bottle every couple miles, and was thankful to not have to stop at the water stations along the way.
The race takes place in a very rural area, and I enjoyed the scenery for the most part. Before the turn around, I saw some horses and a donkey. After the turn around, we heard some coyotes yapping up on top of the hill. I hoped that the donkey would take care of things for us (thankfully I never actually saw them)
Mile 5 – 9:56
I was towards the back of the pack, but I enjoyed seeing and cheering on those who were behind me once I reached the turn around. I had stuffed my empty GU into my sports bra, but it had fallen out without me noticing. When I did notice, I felt bad about littering, but within a few seconds I noticed empty Natty Ice cans in the barbed wire fence row and then I didn’t feel so badly.
Mile 6 – 9:38
I was 2/3rds of the way through the race, and I wanted to really push hard toward the finish. Despite the big hill that ended right at the 7 mile marker, I pushed myself and tried not to let it slow me down. I was very pleased to see my average pace for the mile.
Mile 7 – 9:55
The rest of the race was downhill (as a good portion of this mile was) or flat, so I felt good about really picking up the pace and pushing myself down the hill. The push paid off, and resulted in the fastest mile (to that point) of the race.
Mile 8 – 9:23
Just past the previous marker, we hit the main road (sidewalk) for a stretch of less than a tenth of a mile, then we cut back left onto the road of the start/finish. On this back stretch, I really picked it up. I passed 3-4 people (one dude) along the way.
Mile 9 – 8:53
After the 9 mile marker, I really pushed. I could see the clock in site. For this section, I was wheezing pretty badly but kept telling myself I could breath when I was done (thanks Kelly). I wanted to leave everything out there.
0.35 – 2:58:55 (8:37 pace)
I ended up finishing about 13 seconds behind Kim – a result I was very pleased with! Kim’s fast yo!! (Apparently so am I!) Kelly finished about 30 seconds behind me. I am super proud of how well she raced!
I have no regrets for this race. Knowing what I know now, I could have pushed a bit harder at the beginning. I will next year, but this year it was just smart racing going out conservatively not knowing what the course would hold.
Goal time: 1:30/40
Gun time: 1:31:13
Next year’s tentative goal is sub 90 minutes, but if I make this a race I truly train for maybe I can get fast enough to place in my age group next time!