Hopedale 10k race report
I had tentatively planned to run this 10k but acknowledged it would be a game-day decision, since I never know how my hip is going to treat me in the morning. Since this race was put on by my running club, I signed up to volunteer before and after the race, and if I was up to it I’d join the run. I almost got Kerri to run the race with me, but she had other plans so I went alone.
I arrived at the Hopedale boat house at 7:15 and we got to work setting up registration tables and organizing the layout. Charlene and I took control of the pre-registration table and handed out racers’ bibs and t-shirts. I like this part of volunteering the best, because I get to meet people all morning! Once the post-registration table was set up I whipped out my cash and filled out an entry form, sealing my fate!
Just before the start of the race, John asked about my hip and looked surprised I was running. He said, “have you seen this course?” I mentioned that I planned to take it slow, and I’d walk on any hills if I had to. That’s when he mentioned the mile and a half hill I was about to climb. That shook my confidence a little, but since I really didn’t have a time goal in mind (yes I did, hoped for under 60 minutes) I was okay with just walk/jogging the hill to chip away at it.
The first mile was great. I ran with Marie and Charlene and we chatted away on a nice flat to downhill stretch. When the hill started it wasn’t too bad and I chugged along, but it got progressively more difficult. I wasn’t the only one struggling, and passed a number of runners huffing and grunting their ways up the hill. My legs were burning, and only 2 miles into the course I was ready to give up. I refused to let myself walk on this long hill because I knew if I did, I’d never start running again. Eventually I reached the top of the hill and immediately headed downhill, only this side of the hill was very steep. My hip is just as bad on downhills as uphills, so I had to carefully shuffle down the hill as well, frustrated by the other runners that were able to gain momentum and make up time. This race just seemed to have no recovery section. Once we reached the bottom of the steep decline we entered a trail, which lasted about 2 miles. It was on the trail that I finally gave in and walked. Some of the hills were a little too gnarly for me, and my legs were as heavy as lead. Finally I exited the trail and saw the 5 mile marker, and thought there was a chance I could actually finish this race! I continued on, and the road finally leveled out but the heat was tough. The humidity was so high that all of my clothes were dripping as though I had swam across the pond rather than ran around it.
This race was certainly a test of grit, because around every corner I was looking for the finish line or an opportunity to stop. Even passing the 6 mile marker, knowing the finish was within sight, I still considered walking. One last high-five from Frank, and cheers from my running friends, and I mustered enough energy to finish strong. I was thrilled when I crossed the line, thinking “Thank God that’s over”, and was very satisfied with my 59:39 finish. That may not be a great time, but I have to put this in perspective. This is by far the hardest 10k course I’ve ever run, and I actually ran it faster than the Harvard Pilgrim 10k at Gillette Stadium, which is about the flattest race I’ve ever run. I’m giving my hip a few days to recover, and then I’m crossing my fingers that I can run the final trail race of the year, the West Hill Dam 5 miler on Thursday. I know some people think I’m crazy to keep pushing myself, but hey…I plan to get my money’s worth out of my surgery in October!