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.

IMG 1714 300x300 My surprise 10k

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?


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  1. Congratulations! I think sometimes it’s those last minute entries that really push us. I’ve done a half marathon on a whim before (1 day notice) and it was incredible to just go with it.
    Jen recently posted..22 Miles – The Good, The Bad & The OddMy Profile

  2. Nice medal and so well deserved. It’s probably just as well you didn’t know how tough it was too far ahead – you might have changed your mind and missed out on that medal.
    Char recently posted..Olympic Daydreams.My Profile

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. Congratulations! Wow, third in a tough race with all those other factors in play as well – good for you.
    Gracie (Complicated Day) recently posted..THE ELLIMPICS: Gymnastic all-around attempt!My Profile

  6. Congrats! Yes I know those hills first hand. I definitely would do a race on vacation.
    Darlene recently posted..Camp Chingachgook Challenge 10k Race ReportMy Profile

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. That’s awesome!! Congratulations. I don’t know that I’ve ever run an unplanned race, but it kind of sounds awesome. There’s no time to stress about it, you just get to have fun.
    Kari @ Running Ricig recently posted..bring on the "i told you so"My Profile

  10. I love that you ran an unplanned race and were quite mellow about it. It’s probably a good thing not to know about all the hills beforehand? Congrats on your third place finish! Seriously, your vacation sounds incredible.
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..Halfway Through Already?My Profile

  11. Way to go! Sounds like an awesome run on tired legs.
    On our honeymoon we raced an (unplanned) 5k. It wasn’t pretty after two and a half weeks of too many indulgences, but it was so fun and a great memory!
    Abby @ Change of Pace recently posted..Olympics feverMy Profile

  12. Um, go you Mrs rockstar! That’s awesome. I guess my unexpected race was my last half. I shouldn’t have done it b/c I’d been injured an not running for 6 weeks. Woke up that morning and went for it.
    Heather (Where’s the Beach) recently posted..Relishing the Weekend & Creamy Wild Mushroom Rice RecipeMy Profile

  13. Congrats! I love that you took on an unplanned race – not knowing about the hills in advance was probably a good thing :)
    Michelle @ Running with Attitude recently posted..6 weeks down, 6 to goMy Profile

  14. Congrats! I’m totally in love with the fact that you basically proved everyone wrong on the buss. It makes me smile =)
    Heidi @BananaBuzzbomb recently posted..Employers, Stop Looking For College Degrees!My Profile

  15. Love it! I love that you, spur of the moment entered the race and that you won 3rd overall! Woot! Congratulations, that sounds like so much fun. Hope the rest of your vacation was as good!
    LisaM@RunWiki recently posted..Nature Box Product Review and GiveawayMy Profile

  16. Congratulations! Winning a medal in a race is always a nice surprise and it looks like you really earned it. :-)
    Tasha @ Healthy Diva recently posted..Vacation is over- I am back!!!My Profile

  17. A big congrats!!! I wish I could be that spontaneous!
    Danielle recently posted..Measuring ProgressMy Profile

  18. Wow, congrats!! I love how you did that all spontaneously…the best way to live!
    Shut Up and Run recently posted..Ryan Hall’s DNFMy Profile

  19. Some of the best races are the one you are not even planning of doing

    Congrats on the poduim spot
    BDD recently posted..Things I Know Now, I Wish I Knew Back WhenMy Profile

  20. Congrats, congrats, congrats!!! So much fun to just pick and do a race that wasn’t on the calendar. AND it played out PERFECTLY for you! Nice work!
    Meaghan recently posted..For the Love of Long Runs..My Profile

  21. Wow. That is awesome…. and the medal is very cool – glad you had fun and really rocked that race. Congratulations.
    Elle recently posted..I Really Am a handful … Are You? Review and GiveawayMy Profile

  22. WooHoo Congrats! The unplanned ones are always the sweetest. I love racing on vacay!
    Teamarcia recently posted..PlanetGear GiveawayMy Profile

  23. Well done! Nothing better than the unplanned :) And a medal too….perfect!!
    Lisa recently posted..Clerk of the WorksMy Profile

  24. Well done! All worth it for sure! I love doing unplanned races and even more so when away from home. Rest well!
    Johann recently posted..The Time is FlyingMy Profile

  25. Hey, I love your medal. :) Congratulations on kicking some butt. Awesome way to spend your vacation.
    Amanda @ Run Principessa recently posted..[Guest Post] Running in NYCMy Profile

  26. What a great result for an unexpected race! In hindsight, maybe this should have been an A Race for you. :)
    Kovas – Midwest Multisport Life recently posted..The Lola PapersMy Profile

  27. Wow, congrats on 3rd place – that’s AWESOME for any race, especially an impromptu race post 18-miler and 8-hr car drive. YOU ROCK! Enjoy your bling – you deserve it :)

    Hope you had a great time away, too!
    melody @ {will run for margaritas} recently posted..2012 london olympics {favorites}My Profile

  28. That’s so awesome! I love your spontaneity. I love tough, hilly courses where effort and the experience matter (not times)! How fun!
    Efo recently posted..Colorado Trail Backpacking: Segments 4 and 5My Profile

  29. I love it! I love new experinces like this. So glad you ran it &&& CONGRATS on 3rd!
    Kristy recently posted..Weekly Log — 12 Weeks From NYCMMy Profile

  30. I would love to jump into a race like this. :) CONGRATS! You did a great job and I love the pics. Sounds like a super fun experience.
    Erin Henderson recently posted..A few of my favoritesMy Profile

  31. 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!!

  32. This is great! Congrats on 3rd – while on vacay no less!
    That Pink Girl recently posted..Going Vegan for a WeekMy Profile

  33. 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

  34. Congratulations!
    Kelly @ Cupcake Kelly’s recently posted..Healthy Living Summit 2012: What I am looking forward too!My Profile

  35. I love racing on vacation!

  36. Way to go! What a fun way to spice up your vacation!
    Laura recently posted..An insider’s viewMy Profile

  37. Congratulations!!! That is awesome! Erica
    ERICA ELIA recently posted..Why Did I Start Running?My Profile

  38. Wow that is pretty cool! You did an unplanned race and took third place! I have never ran an unplanned race but maybe I should :)

  39. 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

  40. 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

  41. 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).

  42. 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

  43. I have never run an unplanned race before, but it sounds like you totally rocked it girlie! WAY TO GO!
    Krysten recently posted..#WIAW – Toast the Ta-Tas PartyMy Profile

  44. Congrats to you! A third place win in a spontaneous race on a difficult course while you are on vacation? Wow. Thoroughly impressed.
    Ama_Runs recently posted..The Anniversary RunMy Profile

  45. I’m forever late commenting here, but congrats! I ran a spontaneous race a few weeks ago – feels great to do one. Much less stress and thinking involved.
    David H. recently posted..Body resetMy Profile


  1. […] places. Right off the top of my head I can think of Palm Springs, Arizona, Miami, Key West, the Adirondacks, Austin, and even Australia. I’ve raced everything from 5ks to marathons to trail runs (a 35k […]

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