This was my third time running the Hershey 10K. I went to school in the middle of Lancaster County PA, right outside of Hershey, PA. This is a very special race for me, as this was my very first 10K. Since completing this race in 2014, my friends and I have come back each year to complete it again. It’s a great race and I 100% recommend to anyone who wants to have a fun, well run, and challenging course.
I decided that today I wasn’t going to run this race at my pace. I was running this with my best friends from college, Amy and Mike (now married, aww), as well as Amy’s brother, John. Amy is the first person who I started running with, and even though she doesn’t run as far as me, she is still a runner and a good friend who is very near and dear to me. This year, rather than doing what I do most years, which consists of running my pace and not seeing my friends until the finish, I decided that I was going to run this race with them. That’s right pace, speed, time, place, etc., none of that mattered to me for this race. It was simply to have FUN; something, I had forgotten until I started running trail.
We got up early and made our way to the start. Rain was in the forecast, and boy was it pouring when we were driving! By the time we got to Hershey, though, the rain had subsided and it was perfect running conditions. Temperature in the 50’s, overcast, and about 2,200 other runners. Perfect!
We made our way to the start line, and the port a potties (of course). After a quick stop to take care of the usual runner’s business, I headed off to the start line to get quick pick of all us. The GoPro is slowly becoming my new best friend!
We decided to just stay up at the front. Unlike most races, the Hershey 10K isnt really a race that elites enter to race. Its one of those races that really is meant to be for fun and enjoyment! With anthem over, race started in a matter of seconds. And bam we were off and running. Being at the front, may have been a bad idea, as we started off way too fast for the pace my friends wanted to do.
Trying to slow them down was a challenge, but within a few mins we glided down to the desired pace (that and some intense glares from Amy…). But the damage from starting too fast was already done. Mike’s ankle had started to hurt him. Within a mile or two, he wasn’t feeling too good. So, I decided from that point I was going to stick to him no matter what! I waved Amy and John on, and took over as pacer for Mike.
Sometimes, when you are feeling bad, you just need someone who is going to push you when you need to pushed, but also listen to you and make sure you get some rest. This even more important when something is hurting you. I decided to that I would adapt one of my tricks for utlra races for him. In ultra’s, I like to practice a 5 min run 2 min walk rule when something has gone wrong. So I adapted that to a run 1:30 min and walk 0:30 min rule here. I kept advising Mike breath deep, because the more oxygen he got into his system, the more his muscles could receive to perform better.
He even said to me at one point “I run my own Pace!” Well, there you go folks; that’s how you do it right there! I decided to let him do exactly that. I knew where all the hills and descents were, so I made sure to keep him solid for those parts, but the rest was him. Truly, an inspiration right there. Grit your teeth, suck it up, and get it done! Spoken like a true runner!
With this method, and his own grit, we managed to catch up to Amy and John a few times and finished right after they did, just in time for our finish line selfie!
Post race include the usual euphoric rush of endorphins, as well as a pretty sick goody bag. Hershey hooks you up! Not only do you get a medal, long sleeve tech tee, custom bib, but the best cookie at the end! Not a fan of oatmeal raisin usually, but the Hershey Lodge oatmeal raisin cookies are the bomb. Unfortunately due to doing a fat load phase in preparation for my next 50K, I am not allowed to eat said cookie, yet (I’ll explain fat load and my racing diet preparation in a later post).
After loading up and driving back, we decided to do lunch real quick. I mean c’mon the only reason I run so much is so I can eat all the food!!! And I did, but within my fat load constraints. Chicken fajitas with peppers, onions, tomato, lettuce, sour cream, cheese, and avocado mixed up. Talk about yummy! Pretty healthy, too.
I can honestly say that today was one of the most fun races I have done to date! I love doing the Hershey races, and being able to do them with my good friends is the cherry on the top! Sometimes, you just need to go out there and have fun with it! No stress, no worries, just you and good vibes all around!
I am reminded today of a something Sally McRae has posted on her Instagram:
“I eat mountains for breakfast and chase sunsets across the peaks”
To me this shows just how much passion she has for the sport of ultra running. I may not have the ability to chew mountains up like she does, right now, but I do have that passion. So I will continue to chase sunsets, until that time I find her strength and power!
A little about this particular group of runners. Amy, as I have mentioned, was my first running buddy. She is a zumba instructor, English teacher, and runner. She runs everything up to half marathons, including our other favorite race: Hershey Half Marathon. Mike is Amy’s husband, and one of my oldest friends from college. He is a runner, too. He runs the same with Amy. What’s great about Mike is his positive attitude. Even when all hope seems lost, he is there trucking along ready to finish any race he sets out to do. John is a runner, too. Although, he wouldn’t have called himself one until we finished today. You see, he’s never run a race. That’s right! He went total beast mode today and whipped out a 10K like it was nothing! I foresee a marathon or 12 in his future, even though he may not! muahahaha! Must convert all the runners!!!
All three of these runners proved their grit today, and inspired me! You see, all three of them were able to run the race for themselves. They said we are going to run our race and our pace, and that’s exactly what they did! I am quite envious of this attribute, as I often lack the self-control to do such a thing. I will often find myself coming out of the gate too fast and not reaping any benefits of my haste in the later half. Today they showed me I have a long way to go, if I want to get better as a runner.
Location and Course:
The race is located right in the middle of Hershey, PA. In fact, it starts and ends in the park. The race has you run around the park for the first 4 miles, then you finish in the last two miles in Park. Its so much fun to run in the park, especially since there are no lines! HA! All the mascots are out cheering you on, and the volunteers are great! You have two water stops, so no need to bring water with you. I still carry a handheld, as its a personal preference of mine. I would advise being accustomed to hills. There was about 500ft of total elevation change on Garmin today. The first few miles are a steady incline, so be ready to push some hills. Also, the park is extremely hilly. I made the mistake of not being ready for hills my first time, and it was tough! But the views are amazing; so you will always have something fun to look at and take in.