My surprise 10k

As we headed up to the Adirondacks last Saturday, we passed through one last little “town” about 15 miles outside of Timberlock. I happened to notice a sign for a 10k the next morning. Hmmm, I always love to race on vacations–the new locale, the new faces, the whole experience. Should I do it?

I quickly plugged in the URL to my phone before I lost connectivity and found the details. The race would be two days after an 18-mile run in a glycogen depleted state (more on this soon, I promise), and one day after a 4:30 a.m. brick followed by eight hours in the car. Probably not the best formula for race success, but so what? I wasn’t there to win the race, just to have a different race experience.

The race was scheduled to start at 10 a.m., with a 9 a.m. registration time posted. On top of not being in any sort of rested state for the race, I decided I’d still gorge myself on the fantastic breakfast at camp that morning. They serve it at 8 a.m. each day, and if you miss it, well that’s it until lunch. Plus I love their breakfasts–there’s always a hot cereal, fruit, and some sort of cooked entry as well. I wasn’t going to miss out!

So off I went, full belly, tired legs and all, to find the race start. About that–always know where it is. I figured the town was so tiny I’d find it easily. Wrong. It took some driving around, asking around, and fumbling around before I arrived at the right place at 9:45. I quickly signed up and then jumped on the waiting school bus that took us out to the start. Yes, there was a bus I had to catch and of course, I didn’t know it before hand!

I plopped down on the bus only to have my fellow athletes start asking if I had done this one before. To my response of “no,” I was immediately hit with smiles and laughter and comments about how it was “the hardest 10k in the state” and other fun, encouraging words. Excellent! One more strike against me.

It was all good, though–time was the last thing on my mind. We got to the start line with five minutes to spare. I quickly jogged around to ensure I didn’t pull a muscle with my misguided idea to run a race and then we were off. Let’s just say it–holy hills! Remember, this was in the Adirondack MOUNTAINS. The billing from my bus riding friends was pretty spot on.

However, this was a small race–maybe about 100 people. By mile one, I was in about fifth or sixth place among the women. By mile two, I had moved up to fourth, and by the half-way point, I had moved into third. I could see the second and first women off in the distance, but knew catching them was going to be out of the question. So my focus became ensuring I held onto third.

Medal for third overall (see? a small race!)

About a million hills later and I crossed the finish line in third place on what turned out to be a very rainy morning. My time was hideous, but then again, so was the winning male’s, so I didn’t allow that to bother me. It was a hard course, I was totally unprepared to race, and I enjoyed it. What more can you ask?

The next day we set off for a long hike with the kids (about 4 1/2 hours long). I can tell you, the cumulative effect of the last few days’ efforts really caught up to me. As we headed back down the mountain, my only thoughts were of a nap!  All worth it.

Have you ever run an unplanned race? Do you like to race on vacation?


Related Posts:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge


  1. says

    I think regardless of whether you train for a race or not, you need to have some sort of realistic expectation on your time based on the course. The fact that you ran on tired legs, a full belly, and totally out of the blue and came in THIRD, is an awesome achievement!! Congratulations. The time should mean nothing =)
    I’m so jealous that you lucked out with a race. Whenever we go anywhere, I always check for races – and it always seems like I miss fun races by a week or so!!!
    Michele @ Nycrunningmama recently posted..No Greater SacrificeMy Profile

  2. says

    Wow congrats! What fun! I used to run non-planned races all the time, but it seems lately I haven’t been as adventurous. Maybe because I am in the longer distances of my training so a random 5K or 10K doesn’t fit. Maybe I’m being cheap. Haha. And I do like to race on vacation when I can, just to have a little variety to my running, but also to keep a peace of “me” in the vacation.
    Julie (@ROJRunning) recently posted..Conspiracy Smiracy!?My Profile

  3. says

    We ran an unplanned race while on holiday two years ago, a 10 mile Trail around the grounds of a National Trust property in Cornwall. It was an inaugural race, so not many runners knew about it. There was no M75 category but I somehow managed to beat all the M65’s to take Gold in that category. My wonderful partner took Silver in the L60 category. We were rather pleased we went!
    Gordon recently posted..Arncliffe Fete 4 mile raceMy Profile

  4. says

    Awesome 10k race! I always seem to pack my Adirondack vacation with hiking and running. usually my legs hate it but this year wasn’t too bad. It really is fun to race on vacation – new scenery and not knowing the race course can be fun!
    J recently posted..Crazy numbers ladyMy Profile

  5. says

    Awesome job on third place!!! I’ve never run on vacation…probably for fear that my hubby would kill me!!! I’ve wanted to but never had that discussion…he thinks I’m nuts already!!

  6. says

    Yay you! Congrats on 3rd place! And on a hilly course!!

    The only race I sort of did impromptu was on a recent trip to Hawaii. I had originally registered to do the 5k at the Kona Marathon but then the day before at the expo I decided why not just do the half marathon?! It was hot and super humid but I made my goal of finishing in under 2 hours! And since it was so last minute I never had time to get nervous. Less pressure, more fun :)
    GreenGirlRunning recently posted..Water To Wine Half Marathon…Some ThoughtsMy Profile

  7. says

    I alway organize my holidays around a race or 2… back in 97!!!! I had 2 marathons planed, and while of holiday i ended up also running a Cross Country and a 10km race.

    And it’s alway nice to sneek a top 3… well done!
    Coach Dion recently posted..200th 10km Race!My Profile

  8. says

    Congrats on 3rd overall, I’m not surprised at all that you placed, you are one speedy runner! That course sounds like it was realllly tough.

    I LOVE doing races when I’m on vacation, I agree that it’s fun to get to know a new town, always a cool experience. That’s how I met Caroline Rotich (world class marathoner), during a 5K in Santa Fe!
    Katherine @ Neon Blonde Runner recently posted..5 Tips for a Successful Early Morning RunMy Profile

  9. says

    Congrats for the race (3rd overall!!!!!) and the medal.
    Long time ago, in 1990, I had to spend 2 months in the La Maddalena Naval Base to follow a training course. Just arrived I noticed that a couple of hours later there was a running race. I signed up: only 14 runners. I finished 8° despite the pace of 4’17″/km (6’53” m).

  10. says

    Oh, I love it! Congrats on 3rd place, that’s awesome! Sounds like one of those courses where regular race times just have to be thrown by the wayside. Glad you enjoyed it!

    I love running and racing on vacation, for the same reasons you mentioned. We ran a 5k when we were in Northern Michigan a few weeks ago and then went on about a 4hr hike over sandy dunes just after. It was an exhausting, but amazing day. Definitely one of the highlights of our trip!
    lisa @ early morning run recently posted..My Visit to Chobani SoHoMy Profile