Remember when I said recently that the 10k is not my distance? I proved it again on July 3rd running the Finish at the 50 10k at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. I did this race last year and really liked it so I was excited to sign up again. I thought it might finally be my chance to conquer my 10k PR (49:28) that I apparently set in a random 2004 race.
They made several adjustments to the race this year including moving the 5k a full hour earlier and also changed the course back to having us run up and then down the stadium ramps – which I believe they did the first year the race was held. Talking about the course earlier in the week, my friends Stacey and Ruthanne and I were definitely intimidated by the ramps but still looking forward to the race.
Anticipating lots of traffic and remembering how much we had to rush last year, Stacey and I arrived super early so we had a lot of time to grab our numbers, t-shirt and then sit around sweating. We met up with Nancy and then Ruthanne right before the 6:30 pm start and we were all sweating before the run even began. We took off into the stadium parking lot and into Foxboro for the first half of the run. There were some areas that were shaded but for the most part the sun was beating directly down on the course. The great people of Foxboro were outside with their hoses helping to cool us off and every little bit of relief was helpful but the heat definitely slowed me down. I quickly let go of the original plan of a PR but thought I might be able to hold on to a 8:10 average to beat my time from the BAA 10k last month. That goal lasted about 2 miles and then I started to struggle. I found a little speed in mile 4 thanks to some downhills but once we entered the stadium and started heading up the ramps I let go of all plans and just hoped to finish before collapsing with heat exhaustion.
While the ramps were challenging it was a huge relief to be shaded from the sun. It took what seemed like forever to get to the top and then we ran to the other side of the concourse and back down a set up ramps. I thought this might provide some downhill relief but all those tight turns were a bit tough on the feet. We finished that set sending us through a stretch with spectators lined up and I was certain we were headed to the finish…except that we were still a full floor or two up from the field. One more short set of those ramps and finally we were headed into the tunnel, through the helmet and greeted by the Patriot Cheerleaders and the mascot Pat the Patriot. My friend Rachel had run the 5k earlier and was at the finish line cheering me through to the 50 yard line. Another race in the books!
After grabbing a couple of waters I headed back to the helmet to cheer the girls to their finish. It seemed to have finally cooled down with a perfect breeze flowing through the stadium. We stuck around to take a few pictures of the group hanging around on the field before heading home.
I finished this year’s Finish at the 50 10k in 52:25 – my slowest 10k to date. It was not the race or the night to set any big goals except for enjoying an evening with some friends and appreciating the thrill of running across the Gillette Stadium field. Mission accomplished!
Happy Fourth of July Weekend Everyone!