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The Tar Heel 10 Miler: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Hills

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tarheel10miler

Wearing blue and yellow for Boston. <3

I’m sitting on the couch on Sunday morning, finishing up this post, as my hamstrings are on vacation for a few days. I don’t know how people do this type of distance running on a regular basis! Kudos to my marathon running readers.

Saturday was the Tar Heel 10 Miler, the first race I’d ever signed up for, and the longest distance I’ve ever run. I’m not a runner by any means, and mainly signed up for this race to 1) challenge myself and 2) have an excuse to keep exercising when school got really crazy over the last few months. Not everyone celebrates the end of their intensely difficult and stressful grad school program by running their longest race ever, but hey, I obviously know how to torture treat myself.

The race started at the UNC Football stadium, which was actually pretty cool. We stood in a huge line around the perimeter of the field waiting to get to the starting gate. Once out of the gate, I tried to keep pace with my two friends who were somewhat seasoned marathon runners, but I gave up after about 2 miles of running 9 minute miles… I couldn’t keep that up for 10 miles!

The course itself was a nice tour around Chapel Hill, and included a great deal of my normal training runs, so I was lucky to have been able to do most of my training on the same types of hills that we had to tackle during the course. They don’t call it Chapel Hill for nothing, and there were some doozies. But for every uphill, there’s a downhill (for the most part), and I made the best use of those downhills by allowing gravity to work its magic. I think I made up a lot of time by practically tumbling down the long downhill stretches without a significant increase in effort. Maybe that’s not a good strategy for knee longevity, but who knows – I’m a complete amateur for distance running.

Race Course

Oh, but the last hill… who puts a mile-long 200 ft vertical climb in the last mile of a 10-mile race, anyway?? That was brutal. I made it my goal to not stop running the whole race, which was a challenge since I often take walking breaks in my training runs. And ooooh was I tempted to walk up that last hill, but I made myself keep going. I climbed that hill in 9:34, a time I’m proud of considering I was exhausted!

Towards the end, I was lucky to have a friend from college (a fellow Gettysburg and UNC alum who was cheering on the race) come up and jog with me at the end. It really helped motivate me to push it out for the last few hundred yards of the race. In fact, I credit her with helping me reach the ~10 minute mile mark for my race, which I was not expecting at all! (Thanks Becca!)

Overall I finished the race in 1:41:54 and had an average mile time of 10:11. I’m pretty happy with those results for a few reasons. One is that I didn’t think I’d come anywhere near a 10 minute mile, since my average mile time in training runs was closer to 11 minutes. Also, I’m really proud of myself for running the whole thing and finishing almost under 100 minutes, which was my lofty goal that I didn’t expect to accomplish. Perhaps I’ll try again next year and see if I can get under that 100 minute mark. Not a bad goal to work towards, and I bet if I did it next year I’d be way more well-rested and ready to run, considering this semester in school has really beaten me down and left me exhausted.

All in all I had a great time and really was glad to have pushed myself to accomplish something I really didn’t think I’d be able to do. I may train for another race in the future but for now I’m pretty happy with how this one went. Maybe I’ll go for a half marathon someday, who knows! I don’t typically enjoy running much more than 3-5 miles in any given day but it is fun to try to push yourself physically. And running as part of an event is way more fun than running alone.

I’m considering signing up for the Bull City Race Fest half marathon if I end up staying in North Carolina in the fall. Besides being another good goal to work towards, this race has a food truck rodeo and an Octoberfest beer garden at the end, which sounds awesome and delicious. (The food trucks in Durham are freakin’ amazing!) I’ll keep y’all updated on my plans for my next athletic event.

Have any of you ever competed in a race before? What distance(s) have you run?

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I'm a women's health expert and a registered dietitian (RD) with a passion for helping goal-oriented people fuel their purpose.

I help nutrition entrepreneurs grow their income and their impact by packaging their brilliance into transformative coaching and consulting programs, and get crystal clear on their marketing strategy.

I'm on a mission to help nutrition business owners drop the hustle and come into alignment with their ideal business goals, so they can work from a sense of ease and abundance, and build the online business of their dreams. 

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