Ache Around the Lake – Race report

Today was the day for my first 8K race. I have been training hard and felt ready for today. I had two training runs around the lake – the first one I only went 4.80 miles in 54 minutes. The second one I was really fatigued – I did the full 5 miles in 59 minutes. I felt ready today but still was unsure how I would do. I set my goal at 55 minutes, thinking I could maintain an 11 minute per mile pace.

The day started off good. I slept pretty well, despite the thunder and lightening we had all night. I was worried that it would continue and the race would be canceled. Not so much concern for me, but all of the efforts that went in to putting on the race. A lot of people work really had at these races so I was hoping for decent weather.

I woke at 5:00 AM as planned so I could ease into the day as usual. I had coffee and my Ezekiel muffin with almond butter right away. I have read that for shorter races you should eat 3 hours before the race. It was hard eating right when I woke up, but I wanted to see if it worked. After my breakfast I did some dynamic stretching –  mainly P90X stretching- before moving to the floor for my active isolated stretching I have been doing.

I drank a lot of water then had my green drink about an hour and a half before the race.  I cut myself off from drinking an hour before the race to let everything settle. I headed out the door at 6:30 – so far no rain!

I got to the start, checked in and got myself situated with my number and timing chip. Sue and Melissa were there already so we stood around a talked a bit before hitting the port-a-potty and heading up the hill to the starting line. The check in area was less than a mile from where we needed to be and turned out to be a nice warm-up for the race. On the way it if felt like it was going to start drizzling, but it went away. Another potty break and we toed the line (well, we were a bit behind the starting line).

The start line is at the top of a steep hill. As much as I wanted to be closer to the front I felt safer a bit further back. I was worried that people we going to cause a stampede down the hill. It was a bit crowded at the top, but the crowd soon dispersed as we approached “Grunt Hill”. It is a short but steep hill about a half a mile into the race.

It took me about 2 miles to get my breathing and my pace feeling good. I was really huffing and puffing the first couple of miles – the air was thick. I felt good, but I needed to settle down a bit. I passed the first couple of water stations – I didn’t feel like I needed any and since I was finally getting some rhythm I didn’t want to stop.

The hills on this route are relentless. It is really a pretty tough course. I am happy that I ran it a couple of times so I knew what to expect. I knew from my two precious experiences that The first have is usually easier than the second half. I usually start to crash around mile 3. EXCEPT TODAY! An amazing thing happened at mile 3.5 – I felt fresh and strong. Not a bit of fatigue was in my legs and my heart rate was steady at about 75%.  I knew I needed to pick up the pace a bit. I wanted to go faster, but I wanted to be smart. There were still plenty of hills coming up. The last one is at mile 4.5 or so – I didn’t want to struggle so close to the end.

Also, the whole time up and down the hills I was thinking about John’s advice – find the line.  When racing curvy roads, like he does on the trails, you do not necessarily want to hug the curves – you want to make them as straight as possible. I learned that the race course was measured on the tangent so John’s advice was absolutely correct (like I doubted him! NEVER!).  I was able to pass a lot of people on the curves because the were hugging the curve – often the wide side of the curve. (Do I actually have a race strategy? haha, that’s funny).

At some point before mile four there was another water station – they had Gatorade so I slowed down for a cup and walked while I took a few sips. It tasted good and was exactly what I needed at that point. I was feeling good, but thirsty and my throat was dry from all the heavy breathing.

About this time I had been running with a few of the same people for a couple of miles. We encouraged each other all the rest of the way. It was really great.

Finally the last hill! I flew up it and past the Tea House. I knew the time was coming to pull out all the stops and sprint the rest of the way. I could hear the crowd and gave it all I had. I raced threw the finish line so fast I didn’t even see my time – which I usually look for. I could hear people cheering and calling my name. Who were all these people? The only people I thought I knew were racing and they were behind me!

I had to make my way to the end of the shoot where I needed to remove my timing chip. Let me tell you – that is the hardest thing to do! The chip is tied around shoe laces – which means you have to bend over and try to untie a double knot and get it off all while trying not to pass out as the blood is rushing to your head and the sweat is leaking profusely from your forehead. A woman that finished at the same time I did sat down to do hers – very smart. She was near me and reached over and untied my shoe for me! How sweet was that – you have to love runners!

I finally found the water station and got some more Gatorade and a cookie. Some ladies from a local church made homemade cookies. They were delicious.

I made my way back to be near the finish line so I could see who my fans were and cheer for Sue. It turns out that Cheryl and her husband came to do the shorter race, The Ouch. Also, Scarlette was there and about three other people I knew. It was such a friendly environment and it was good to see some people that I have not seen in awhile.

My official time was 53:05. (Garmin said 52:55 so that is pretty close – I started it right when I crossed the starting line but because it took me a few seconds to get from where I was to the line that is was the 10 second difference is between my time and the official time). Either way, I am thrilled.

Now for tomorrow! I have to find a place to run another 8 miles or so.

Race loot:

This race had one of the nicest shirts I have seen for a race. Plus, a water bottle and some dog treats (guess who those are for!!!)

A close-up of the graphics on the tee

A close-up of the graphics on the tee




  1. ilka

    You go girl!!!

  2. Linda

    Congratulations on your great run! We are so proud of you!

  3. Great job at the Ache! We are so glad to have you and we hope you will come back again. Keep up the good work! If you live in Tryon or around here I have lots of great running routes.

  4. lauraph2009

    Hi Katie – thanks for stopping by. I live in Columbus and will be needing some running routes as I just started training for the Myrtle Beach Marathon. We actually met last year when I was training for the Cooper River Bridge run in the spring – I joined you and Scarlette while you were running around Harmon Field with the Tryon Running Club. I really look forward to meeting you again. You are a huge inspiration to me.

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