I don’t race very often during the winter because the weather can be so iffy. I’d rather not risk signing up for something then worry about possibly racing on an icy surface. I run outside all winter long but I’m usually pretty selective about choosing places where I can be sure I’ll have enough traction. Despite all of that, I still put winter races on my calendar so they’re on my radar just in case the weather looks promising.
I’ve considered running Dave’s 10-Miler in the Toledo, OH area for years but have never made it to the race. I had 11 miles on my training schedule for the day and knew that my friend Lisa had signed up so it seemed especially appealing this year. I checked the forecast a week before the race and it looked clear enough for me to finally go for it. So…of course the forecast changed.
It was dry at home when I woke up on race day – Sunday, January 22. The snow had started by the time I left though. It was supposed to be a two-hour drive in good conditions and I started to worry as my phone’s predicted arrival time kept creeping later. I planned to go to Lisa’s house first since she lives along the way and I didn’t want to make her late too. I got to her about 15 minutes later than planned and fortunately it all worked out, but the roads got a bit sloppy and driving was a little stressful at times. It reminded me why I usually don’t race in the winter – especially two hours away!
We both like to get to races at least an hour early so we have plenty of time. We had 45 minutes this time and realized we would still be totally fine. We just wouldn’t have any extra time to kill! A middle school was the home base for the race and parking around the school had already filled up so we had a short hike through the snow from a farther parking lot. It was a major bonus that we had access to the school where we could stay warm and use real restrooms instead of cold porta potties. Surprisingly there was no wait, then we got through the packet pickup process quickly as well.
Then it was time to jog back to the car with our stuff and decide how to gear up for the race. I had brought a whole variety of options since I didn’t know what the course conditions may be like or if it would still be snowing. It WAS still snowing, but at least in Delta, OH the roads were mostly wet. I didn’t want to use spikes on clear pavement, but if there could be snow in spots, I thought trail shoes might be the best option for a little extra grip. I hoped a water-resistant jacket paired with a hat to keep snow out of my eyes would work as well.
We jogged back to the school then headed out to the starting line. I still had just enough time to spare to get an extra half mile in to warm up. The race is billed as Dave’s 10-Miler and Yeti 10K so we had to grab a photo with the yeti before we started.
I didn’t have any specific goals for this race since I’ve been training for distance rather than pace lately. I’m several weeks into my latest marathon training plan and other than a couple sessions of running fast intervals for a minute at a time, I haven’t run any speedy workouts. I thought it would be nice if I could at least pull off 10 miles at marathon pace. That would be around an 8:00 pace and a 1:20:00 finish. A workout at that pace for that kind of distance is still about seven weeks away in my plan though so I didn’t know if it could be a little ambitious. I’d just get out there and see what happened!
Fortunately the snow wasn’t heavy enough to accumulate on the race course but it did blow in our faces for most of the race. I was thankful that the surface was fine though. There were a few spots with a little bit of slush and that was mostly avoidable. It DID look really pretty out on the country roads. It was a nice, flat course other than the four times we hit overpasses that took us over the highway.
I was a little fast for the first mile with a 7:33 split, then I ended up in the 7:40s for several miles. I was running by feel with an uptempo effort that I hoped would be sustainable for 10 miles. I slowed down to the 7:50s after the halfway point and really felt like I wanted to be done by the time I hit eight miles. Aside from the pace being a challenge, my shoes became an issue. Trail shoes weren’t really ideal since the road was pretty clear. I have really struggled to find the perfect trail shoe. I have some that are stiff which work great when 100% on the run is on trails with rocks and uneven surfaces. However, half the time I run on pavement for part of the run so I prefer a pair that is a little more flexible and versatile. The pair I wore worked for part of the run but eventually they started to rub my arches and it got pretty annoying.
I managed to tough it out and kept hanging on, even picking up the pace a little bit for the last mile. Thanks to Dave’s Running for providing race photos!
I finished a couple minutes under 1:20:00 so that was a bonus!
My official time was 1:18:00 and I like that I actually finished on the dot with the even number. I ran a PR for 10 miles during the summer and this was four minutes slower than that but I was also more prepared for speed at that point. I’m definitely happy with the results of this race. I haven’t run that fast in quite a while, and to do so with snow blowing in my face and shoes that bothered me is a win.
I glanced at my watch when I hit the mile splits but I didn’t really try to speed up or slow down to any particular pace. Here’s how my splits played out:
After taking a minute to recover, I started walking back to the finish line to see if I could catch Lisa. I barely had time to get my phone ready for photos before she came through!
Neither of us scored an age group award but both of us were happy with our times. When I looked at the results later I realized that the next couple closest women in our age group finished six minutes before me and we didn’t stand a chance against them!
I got a turkey sandwich and some chicken noodle soup which we were able to eat in the school’s cafeteria. Soup was definitely an appropriate choice after running in the snow.
I really dreaded going back out into the cold to get to the car. We tried to jog to get there faster but my shoes continued to rub my arches and I couldn’t run anymore. We just had to swap to some dry clothes and crank the heat for a few minutes so I could get some color back in my hands.
I was thankful that the drive home was MUCH better than the drive there. In the end, it was a pretty fun day. I’m glad Lisa had also committed to the race because if I had planned on doing it alone there’s a possibility I would have bailed due to the weather. That’s one of the quirky draws about this race though – the weather is almost always unpredictable! It was a bit of a hike to drive a couple hours but Dave’s does a great job with their races. The shirt and medal featuring the yeti were especially cool. It really was a bargain to get the post-race snacks, cool swag, and a 10-mile race for $40…especially since I waited until the week before to sign up. It was nice to finally push my pace again and see that I have some speed in me. Most of all, it was great having a chance to catch up with Lisa and hang out for the day.