Sunday, November 6, 2011

Race #151 - Vulcan Run 10k - Birmingham, AL - 11/05/11

It was an up and down week for a lot of runners this week -- they were either up in New York for the NYC Marathon or down in Georgia for the Savannah Marathon. We decided to take the road less traveled and headed over to the Vulcan Run 10k in Birmingham, Alabama, the third of ten races in the Running Journal Grand Prix series. This was our second trip to the Vulcan Run, and again we stayed at The Tutwiler Hotel, a beautiful and historic hotel built in 1914 that has been converted to a Hampton Inn. The Tutwiler is just 2 blocks from the starting line and 1 block from the finish line and is the perfect place to stay for this race. Their free breakfast is served from 6 to 10 a.m. so I had some oatmeal and orange juice before the race, then after the race I came in and took a shower and changed clothes and met Linda as she crossed the finish line, then we both went back and after she cleaned up we had some more breakfast then headed over to the awards ceremony and big after-race party at the Boutwell Auditorium near the finish line.

The weather was perfect (if you don't mind it being kind of cold) and Linda and I both ran our fastest 10k race ever! This is a great course and pretty fast. There's just one big hill about halfway into the race but other than that it's fairly flat with long straight stretches with no turns to slow you down. This was my fifteenth 10k and before the race I felt like it might be a new Personal Record for me. I had set my PR here two years ago at 42:31 and I seem to be running better now than I was then so I hoped my race time would show it.

Since that first race I've changed the way I run, now only monitoring my heart rate and paying no attention to my pace. For this race I decided to try to start out strong and build my heart rate to 170 (about 89% of my maximum heart rate) and keep it there throughout the race. There are other factors involved (diet, training, weather, etc.) so I'm not always able to pick a number such as 170 and make it work, although when I've been able to the results have been good. 

I hit the 1-mile mark at about 6:15 and felt good. It takes me a while to reach that 170 mark but by the third mile and the big hill I was at 170 and felt like I would be able to hold on to it. The fourth mile was at the end of the long hill and I have a tendency to slack off if I'm not careful as I go downhill just to take a rest so I had to keep reminding myself to keep my legs moving fast enough to keep my heart rate up. You can see from the table that after the fourth mile I was able to gradually build up for the rest of the race. My goal for the race was to beat my old PR of 42:31 and as I came down the home stretch the clock read around 41:30. I wasn't sure how long it would take to reach the finish line from where I was but I didn't waste any time and finished with an official time of 41:44, a 47-second PR from my time two years ago. 

Couple of other things... The T-shirt is a short-sleeved tech shirt and one of the best ever (I'm 2 for 2 on good shirts over the past two weeks). The post-race party is fantastic, with lots of good food and inside the auditorium, where it's warm. There's $5,000 in prize money for the top 6 men and top 6 women, which is great if you're one of them. The age group awards were pretty bad though: fairly cheap generic medals although they were at least inscribed on the back. It's strange because two years ago there was a nice custom medal for age group winners.





Race Rating:

7 - 1-10  Website (Information, results, registration, photo links, etc.)
7 - 1-10  Awards (Quality of medals, trophies, etc.) (1 to 10)
8 - 1-10  Awards Presentation (PA system, winning times, etc.) (1 to 10)
9 - 1-10  Food for Race Participants (1 to 10)
9 - 1-10  T-Shirts (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
6 - 4/6   Part of Race Series (Grand Prix, etc.) (6=Yes and 4=No)
5 - 0/5   Professional Photography (5=Yes and 0=No)
6 - 4/6   Chip Timing (6=Yes and 4=No)
7 - 3/7   Certified Course (by USA Track & Field) (7=Yes and 3=No)
8 - 1-10  Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
3 - 1-10  Parking (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
8 - 1-10  Entertainment (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
10 - 0-10  Age Groups (10 if 5-year groups; 0 if 10-year groups)
5 - 0/5   Indoor Shelter from Elements (0 if none; 5 if provided)
4 - 1-10  Bathroom Facilities
0-10  Other 

TOTAL - 102

My Stats:

Time:  41:44
Pace:  6:43
Age Group: 1 of 63 
Overall:  55 of 1,294