It was about 30 degrees warmer for this year’s Operation Santa 10k in Hudson Falls, NY. The sun was even shining brightly, a stark contrast to the 20-degree temps and piercing winds of last year’s race (where I also sported the beginnings of my ’stache from the 2nd annual ABMGC – set for a later start this year). As always, my biggest fan, Jen, was there to cheer me on and document the occasion for my 4th 10k.
The nicer weather also brought out a much larger field than last year — 112 total 10k’ers vs. a mere 39 of us last year. A warm day (low 50s) also meant there were more volunteers on the course, so things didn’t seem quite as chaotic as last year, when I almost missed a few turns.
Coming off a week of battling the sniffles — coupled with two back-to-back hard workouts on Tuesday and Wednesday this week — it wasn’t my best race ever, but I did beat my time from last year, and was 45 seconds shy of my Great Pumpkin 10k PR in October.
My official time was 43:00 (though I swear I crossed the line at exactly 42:59, which is what my Garmin said when I hit stop after the line), which was good for 13th overall and 4th in my division (again, better time than last year, but not as good placement, thanks to the bigger turnout). But I can’t complain: I gave it my best today with the 6:56 average pace.
I came out strong (6:31 first mile), taking advantage of the early race adrenaline and the first big downhill through the rolling farm country. The course quickly shows you who’s boss, though, with a series of uphills for most of the first three-quarters of the course, the toughest being after Mile 3. I clocked in Miles 2 and 3 at slower paces of 6:51 and 6:59. In that challenging fourth mile, my slowest of the day (as last year), I clocked in a 7:22 (only 3 seconds faster than last year in the same mile).
With the worst of the hills behind me, it was back to the residential area near the middle school where the race started and finished. This is also the point where things get a little confusing since I was running against 5k’ers coming at me the other direction.
I was feeling pretty winded, but pressed on with everything I had, keeping the #2 female finisher in my sights pretty much the whole race. I thought I might catch her, as I did with the top female finisher in the Great Pumpkin, but alas, she held strong and never gave me the chance.
With a half-mile or so to go, I pushed with everything I had left, and let the cheers of the spectators lining the home stretch pull me to the line (7:02 and 7:03 in Miles 5 and 6). As the clock came into view, I saw that it was inching toward 43:00, so I floored it, and passed with 42:59 on the clock (43 flat was my official time, though):
Santa made an appearance this year, too, but he seems to have lost some weight and dyed his hair from white to black:
This race was even harder than I remembered it. You can also tell it was harder than the Great Pumpkin by comparing my average heart rate from each race – GP: 169; OS: 177. That’s a big difference.
It’s always fun running into people we know, too, which today included a handful of Jen’s book club friends, one of whom was my Green Mountain Relay teammate, Megan.
Good times and another day at the races complete! Congrats to all of my fellow Operation Santa runners, too!
Mile splits (view Garmin data):
|Split||Time||Avg Speed||Avg HR|