This was my third year running the Jones 10 Miler. That is what is has been called until this year. This is a local winter race run on the very hilly back roads of Amherst, MA. The start time has been delayed the last two years because of snow, but this is one race that is always on despite the weather. This year was amazing, the sun was out and the temperatures neared 40 degrees.
This is not going to be one of those race recaps where I wait until the end to announce a PR. This is not going to be that kind of a year. This race is a challenging course for even some of the most accomplished runners as I overheard while I was walking around the registration area in the Amherst Regional High School cafeteria. The race serves as a Boston Marathon training race especially for those looking for some hill experience. The hills keep coming at you right until the end. Mile 8 is long slow uphill steadying off to a straight stretch before you take a right hand turn as a steep hill at mile 9 stares you in the face. The scenery is beautiful this time of year which takes the edge off some of the hills.
For me this was my return to racing. It was my worst time of the three years which I expected. I’m slower now. Still, I got tears in my eyes as I ran through the finish line because 10 months ago I honestly didn’t know if and when I would run again. In my opinion I ran a solid race. I felt as though my pace was steady and smooth throughout. I pushed myself enough to feel challenged, I listened to my body, ran every single hill and only slowed to a fast walk through the water stations. My Achilles felt great, no twinges, discomfort or pain. This is one race that always makes me feel a little bad ass at the finish no matter what my time. I mean come on, 10 miles of hills in unpredictable weather at the end of February!!
Up until this race I was on the fence about running the Vermont City Marathon. This winter has made it very difficult to muster up the motivation to run outdoors and I’m really reluctant to use the treadmill after the injury. I know that’s how I injured my Achilles. I also used the treadmill as a crutch last winter. If I’m going to train for Vermont City then it has to be outdoors. This race reminded me how much I love running distance, running outdoors and racing. I’m in! Let the marathon training begin.