Now in its fourth year, the Hillbilly Hike is a fairly small "local" event, that has grown every year. The main beneficiary is the Indianola Christian Union Church Mission Team (more info HERE). The course involves a point-to-point route along the Summerset Trail (a former rail trail). Participants have the option of running the half marathon, 10K, or (new this year) the Greubel 5K.
Like with most of racing endeavors, my friend, Barb, was running the race as well. We had a 5:45 departure time to get to Carlisle (IA) for the race check-in.
The temps were chilly (low-40's), but comfortable. There was a constant mist in the air, but (thankfully) very minimal (if any) wind. I suited up in a base layer of a fleece-lined tech top and added a flannel shirt (this was a hillbilly-themed event, after all) and opted for full (unlined) running tights. I brought along a thin puffer vest, but decided to leave it at the bag check at the last minute...and was very glad I did so.
Even though I have been running (and racing) for the past 12+ years, more often than not, I run the first mile faster than necessary...and this race was no exception. There was the usual weaving around fellow runners, but I didn't think I was going that fast. My first mile showed an 8:48 pace...not overly fast, but definitely faster than I have been running the past seven weeks (since resuming running following my recovery from surgery).
The first mile had us running a big loop through Summerset State Park before merging onto the Summerset Trail itself. Barb and I ran the first mile or so together. I pulled over for a quick drink of water shortly after that first mile and kept my eyes on her for awhile, but eventually lost her.
|Look closely...that's me all the way on the right...(#awkward)|
The second and third miles felt much like the first mile, albeit a bit slower. Even though I drank some water on our drive to the race, I regret not bringing water with me on the bus. I spent the greater part of the race feeling thirsty, which is not ideal. As we all know, if you feel thirsty, it's usually too late. Since it was only a 10K (and the temps were not hot), the thirst was not a huge deal. If this would have been a longer race on a warmer day, I could have been in trouble.
When I reached the next water station (I think around the 3-mile mark), I pulled over and grabbed another water. I didn't walk for very long, but the short walk (20-seconds?) was just enough to rejuvenate me.
It was around the 4-mile mark where the trail has a long, gentle curve...and it seemed to take forever. Physically, I didn't really feel tired, but I was still feeling whatever that little twinge was in my right hip. I kept my focus on the curve, and once the trail straightened back out, I decided to walk again for a few seconds.
The final 1.5 miles went well. I could tell I was starting to feel a bit fatigued, but my pace still seemed to be strong. I remember glancing at my watch, and was momentarily elated to see my mileage was at 5.75 and my time was well under 52 minutes! Really? For a brief minute, I thought a PR might be in the bag...only I still could not see the finish line. Then, a short while later, I realized my watch must have said 5.25 miles....and I still had a ways to go. Talk about a buzz kill!
I (finally) made it across the finish line. My Garmin showed a finish time of 57:25 (official time clocked at 57:30...no official "start line" with a mat, just the command to GO!). I really would have liked a faster finish time, but this was still a victory... in fact, it was a faster average pace (9:14 for 6.2 miles) than what I'd run for the Mercy Live Up Loop 5-miler (which was 9:22 for 5 miles) three weeks prior.
|Biscuits & gravy...yum!|
Over all, I am really happy with my efforts. Seeing how consistent my splits were shows my pace is rallying back. I later learned I finished with 3rd place age group honors (out of 11). I say "honors" because only the 1st and 2nd place finishers received awards (discounts on next year's event). There were 175 10K finishers (I was 52nd overall), and 108 women (I was 28th). Congrats to Barb...she placed 1st in her age group!
I must admit, I had thought of trying for a PR. It's been awhile, but I think my 10K PR is just under 54 minutes. The temps certainly were in my favor, as was the relative flatness of the trail. But, my body still is not quite 100% recovered from the 3-month sabbatical it endured over the summer. And, there was a weird little "strain-like" thing happening with my right hip (isn't it always something?). Although I felt strong for most of the race, I didn't have that deep-down urge to go all out on this 10K. With the Rock'n'Roll Las Vegas 13.1 happening a week later, I just didn't see any benefit in tempting fate and further messing with the hip.
In conclusion, I have to give this event two big thumbs up. The Hillbilly Hike is not only well organized, but they had numerous volunteers manning the water stations (and many of them were all decked out in hillbilly attire). The race pics were even free! And the route along the Summerset Trail is quite scenic (even on a dreary morning).
**I'm linking this with Debbie and Rachel and Lora for the Running Coaches' Corner.