09 22 2014.

race report: portland trails to ale 10k 2014


Today I’m really excited to report on another first of mine: the 10k race! This was also Darren’s first 10k race – and first race overall!

Unfortunately, Darren suffered from a knee injury that prevented him from training to the extent that he would have liked to train, but he made the effort (despite the pain) to run 2 times a week with me, upping the distance a little bit each time. Tuesday before the race, we ran the 10k distance together and he did well! I challenged him at a 9:30 pace, which was a little bit fast for him, but he did it nonetheless! He was ready for race day.

I was ready for race day. I was really excited about it, actually. Usually I’m nervous before a big race, but I knew that I was more than prepared. 6.2 miles had become a base run distance for me over the past few weeks. My mom’s running friend, Mike, agreed to pay her way into any race of her choice for her birthday (which was months ago!) Since we’re doing the half marathon in November and we had already paid, she decided last-minute that she wanted to run this 10k as well. So she was going to get to join us! The more, the merrier. The last time we ran a race together was The Color Run – back when 3.2 miles was my long run!

And then race day came. From the moment we woke up at 7:00am, it was pouring. Great. I checked the weather again and there were predicted thunderstorms from 9:00-10:00am – basically from the moment the race started to my predicted finish time. I dug out my MPG windbreaker, buried my (non-waterproof!) Garmin in the sleeves, and scarfed down a banana with peanut butter.

My mom arrived at 8:00 to pick us up, along with Mike. Since he works for a company with a Portland office, we were able to park in their lot – roughly a five-minute walk away. Perfect! By the time we had parked and arrived at the start, we still had 45 minutes until the gun. Standing in the pouring rain. Honestly, I’d be lying if I said that I was miserable. The downpour kind of excited me. I was amped up to run in the rain. My only concern, funny enough, was that my Garmin would get soaked and ruined.

Finally finally finally it was time to run. I had planned to run with Darren the whole way since the rain kind of drowned out my competitive spirit. We stood in the middle of the 9:00 and 10:00 corrals, since Darren had trained with me at roughly a 9:30 pace. Once the gun went off, it took us around 1:30 to pass over the timing mat.

Almost immediately after we began the run, it started to pour even harder. Rain was just dripping all down my face. I vividly remember thinking that I was so thankful for my eyebrows – since they held up and diverted most of the rain from getting in my eyes. Despite the rain, I loved the feeling of running down closed streets with over 2,000 people around me. That’s how I imagine running Boston must feel. Such an incredible level of camaraderie and excitement. It was also a beautiful area with the trees lining the entire length of the road. This was my absolute favorite part of the race. I was in such a good mood: soaked to the skin – but smiling and enjoying myself.

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There was no mile one marker – at least, if there was, I didn’t see it! I heard my Garmin beep though, so I figured that it was pretty accurate. The Trails to Ale race is a net-downhill race: meaning that you start on the high ground on the Eastern Promenade and end on the low ground on the Eastern Promenade Trail so most of the first mile was spent cautiously flailing around down hills and trying not to slip on the pavement. (The pace and time is inaccurate as I forgot to stop my watch after I finished for almost 10 minutes!)

Once we entered the Back Bay loop, it was muddy. For those who haven’t been around it, it’s not pavement – it’s a hard-packed clay/dirt material. It’s perfect for running longer distances because it’s a soft surface, but the rain just turned it into one giant mud puddle.

The trail is also quite narrow. You can fit maybe four people across, which makes it hard to run with other people. Once we reached mile three (it had stopped raining!), Darren ended up stuck behind a group of slower people. I didn’t want to slow down, because it meant that we’d have to pass those people again, so I just kept going. I looked back a few minutes later and couldn’t see him anywhere. At that point, I just decided to run the race at my pace – and it was a good decision. I knew my time wasn’t going to be what it could be, since I spent most of the next mile making up for the slower miles I had done at the beginning. Passing people is a slow business!

It’s also a lengthy business. I added almost a half mile onto my total distance because I was passing people on the outside of the Back Bay loop. I was keeping a solid 8:30 and felt really good. I was so excited when I heard my watch beep for a fifth time – five miles down! That’s when I realized that I had added so much distance to my run because I didn’t see the mile marker sign for another few minutes!

Now let me tell you the worst part of the run. The 10k ends on the Eastern Prom Trail which goes right by the Wastewater Plant. I had picked up my pace after 5.5 miles, hoping for a strong finish, but right around mile six, you can smell it. It was awful. And I was feeling a bit hot and fatigued so that smell was not welcome! I was half surprised that no one got sick at that point!

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And for a good part: the finish line. Once I could see the crowd gathered at the finish line, I kicked it into high gear. I sped up to a 6min/mile pace and bolted across the finish line. I felt good! It’s also the first time I’ve crossed the finish line without feeling nauseous! I’m so proud of myself for that.

My final time was 57:45. I’m surprised that I even managed under an hour, considering my start was so slow. I figured that I’d never make up the time, especially having to dodge puddles and people! I’m really really happy with my sub-hour time. It’s a respectable time for my first 10k, a time that would have seemed nearly impossible a year ago, but it’s also a time that I know I can beat. Which means I’m going to have to sign up for another 10k soon!


Next time I’m going to start in the appropriate corral. I know that I had planned to stay with Darren the entire time but it was way too stressful trying to keep together. (Think: stampede.) I’m happy that I was able to stand at the finish line and cheer him across the timing mat – and get a picture!

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My mom finished around 59:00, with a two-minute PR! Darren finished around 1:05:00 with a sore knee! I’m so happy and proud of us all!

Afterwards, each runner was allowed a free slice of Portland Pie pizza (so good!) and two beers. We skipped out on the beer (since it was 10:00am!) and we didn’t really feel like it. We met up and chatted with some other friends and co-workers who raced and then took off. We didn’t stick around long since our biggest desires at that time included coffee, showering and sweatpants.


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