Saturday, August 11, 2012

Bridge of Flowers 10K

Today Seth, Patrick, and I headed out of our house at 6:30 a.m. to head up to Shelburne Falls for the 34th Annual Bridge of Flowers 10K and Charity 3K. Seth was running the 3K, which started at 8:15 a.m. It's a 45 minute ride to Shelburne Falls from our house, and we wanted to get there in plenty of times to pick up our bibs and t-shirts.

The race was very well organized. We were easily directed to parking, and registration was a breeze. The weather this morning was cooler for August -- in the low 70s -- but very humid. We'd had a set of very strong rain storms come through yesterday, and there was mist in the air that was just lifting as we arrived in Shelburne Falls.

Because registration and parking went so smoothly, we had time to walk around a little bit before Seth had to line up for the 3K. We decided to head over to the famous Bridge of Flowers.

We walked around  looking at the flowers and seeing the town, and then it was time for Seth to line up on the Iron Bridge for the start of the 3K.

Seth did an amazing job on the 3K, finishing in 20:05! He basically sprinted the last bit because he was motivated by the crowd cheering. He loved running in the race and definitely wants to do more. I'm so glad he had such a wonderful time!

Here he is coming towards the finish line.

After congratulating Seth on his excellent race, Patrick and I linked up for the 9:00 a.m. start time for the 10K.

The 10K course started by following the same course as the 3K.

As the race started, I was feeling excellent. There were around 800 or so people running in the race, and I felt very energized. Plus the weather wasn't too hot -- it was a good time for running. 

The start of the course that followed the 3K went through the community right around the center of town. It was fun running in a new place, and Shelburne Fall is very scenic. (I love running and looking at houses -- it's like watching House Hunters on the treadmill at the gym but real life!) 

There were a lot of locals spread out along the race clapping and offering encouragement. They also had people at each mile marker giving you your time. My goal was to finish in 1:05, so I found this very helpful. To keep my pace steady (around 10:30 minutes / mile), I was also tracking my run using my Nike+ sensor and iPhone app. 

At around the 4K mark, we turned up towards Crittenden Hill. At the turn there was a bagpiper in full kilt. How exciting! 

I would need this excitement on the hill. After running the almost mile and a half hill on the Lake Wyola race, I thought I would be ready for the half mile Crittenden Hill on the Bridge of Flowers 10K. Not in the least!

Crittenden Hill, at its steepest point, has the same grade as the steepest part of Mount Washington, the biggest mountain in the Northeast. On the hill I walked. I did a 17:00 mile up Crittenden Hill, and I can tell you that I exerted myself more on this half mile than during any time I was running. 

Fortunately, there was plenty of water along the hill (and along the course as a whole). I was able to practice running through water stations, which was pretty interesting, although I must admit I got myself a little bit wet.

At the top of the hill there was a welcome site: a cello player playing to inspire us on. It gave me the motivation I needed. I was back to running! 

The last 5K of the course after the hill was mostly level or downhill. I pushed it! I had lost a lot of time on the hill and would need to go faster than my normal 10:30 miles to finish the race at my goal time. For the last 5K, I ran 10:00 miles or faster. I felt good, so I kept going as hard as I could. The last kilometer I really moved it, going faster than 9:00 per mile towards the end.

I finished in 1:04:08 beating my 1:05 goal!

After the race, we headed down toward the Glacial Potholes. Overlooking the Glacial Potholes, they were having a post-race party. There were bananas, apples, watermelon, water and sports drinks, and veggie hot dogs (which were gross -- I had two bites and didn't finish). It was a nice spread and a great way to regroup after the race.

I have to tip my hat to the town of Shelburne Falls for organizing a great road race. The course was scenic and fun, which live entertainment. It seemed like lots of the local  came out to motivate the runners. There was ample water along the race and a nice bit of food afterwards.

We all definitely want to do this race again next year!

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