The 13th Annual NVRC Rodney Myers Memorial Run Around Egg Hill, aka Egg Hill 10 miler, coincided with the famous DC Cherry Blossom 10 mile race. Both races shared the date, the distance, and the crazy winds we got this weekend. The only minor differences are that the EG10 only had 53 solo-runners, two water stops, and no qualification standards, and the DC race is doesn’t have a brutal climb at mile 2.
It was a tough but great race for me. There were moments where I wanted to quit, but I finished in my intended pace range, I won my age group, and I had a good time.
First race of the season!! 🏃🏻🏃🏻🏁🏆🏞 — I'm exactly one month away from the Pittsburgh marathon. The Egg Hill 10 miler seemed like a good trial race — The wind was crazy and there was a brutal hill around mile 2 that made me really want to quit and catch a ride to the finish line. But the temperature was perfect, the scenery was great, and I managed to win my division and bring a trophy home 😁😁 — #GameOnPGH #outsideisfree #medalmonday #raceseason #marathonrunner #marathontraining #pghmarathon #roadtoironman #newtonrunning #garminfenix3 #trophyselfie #raceday #runitfast #furtherfasterstronger #findyourfast #bqtraining #trilife #swimbikerun #runnershigh #runnerspace #runnerscommunity #wymtm #runnerofsteel #hellobetter #youvsyou #beatyesterday #RuleYourself #madebymiles #longrunsunday #runbrunorun
About the race
- The course is essentially one loop around Egg Hill. Most of the course consists of backroads and crushed gravel trails with great forest scenery. There are only four turns (all right turns) on the entire course, and all the miles and turns are properly signalled. The course was a bit short of 10 miles according to my Garmin.
- There is a tough climb, as tough as they come, near the start. This means that your legs will be tired for most of the race. I guess this can can be a good or a bad thing, depending on what you like. But, regardless of whether you are a masochist or not, there is a good chance this won’t be your fastest 10 miler.
- It is a very small race with a very nice family atmosphere and there are trophies for the first place on every age group, and medals for 2nd and 3rd places. So, there is a chance that you might get an award. However, the race attracts some of the fastest local runners. So, don’t expect a first place unless you can finish a very hilly 10 miler with a 5:30 min/mile pace.
- Because the race is very small, there is very little crowd support, the roads are not closed to traffic (though traffic is very light and most local drivers know there is a race going on), and there are only two water stops at miles 3 and 8.
- Given the time of the year the weather is usually great for running. This year it was a bit cold (36F) and very windy (25mph), but I would usually expect a nice sunny 40-60F for a central PA Spring day.
- The race starts at 2:30pm making it my first afternoon race ever. It is nice not having to get up at 4:30 to eat breakfast, but you sort of lose most of the day if you chose to run it.
Continue reading for the race recap
The following words keep ringing in my head before a race “Pace yourself, do NOT start too fast, do NOT start too fast”. But it is always hard to avoid, specially because I knew this was a very small race and I had a good chance to place. My first mile was actually my fastest at 6:06 :(. Still, other than that first mile, I had pretty decent negative splits, and I did my last miles in 6:08 and 6:07! Not bad at all for the end of a very tough race.
A tough climb to start
Miles 1.5 to 4.5 of the course consist of a steady mile-long 6% incline hill, followed by two miles of rolling hills. I chose to do the race precisely because of its big climb. I am training to run the Pittsburgh Marathon one month from now. Halfway through the PGH course, there is a tough climb up Mt Washington followed by rolling terrain. Last year, I burned out my legs on this climb, and hit the wall around mile 16. So, I thought that the EG10 course would be a good practice run to get used to racing with burned-out legs.
When I reached the bottom of the hill I was still 3rd overall, and the 2nd place was within reach. By the time I reached the end of the hill, I was 7th, the 6th place was barely in sight, and I was feeling completely defeated. I just wanted to quit and catch a ride to the finish line.
I actually did stop, just for a second, at mile 4. At this point my legs were completely exhausted, I was feeling short of breath, the 25mph winds were getting to my nerves, and I didn’t think I had 6 miles left in me, but I did. Thankfully, I was near the end of the rolling terrain. A quarter mile ahead of me, there was a long descent that helped me catch my breath without sacrificing speed. I just focused on speeding up my cadence as much as I could and letting the slope drive me down.
At this point, the 7th place was already out of sight, and another person passed me. A really cool guy who won the 60+ division ran past by me with an incredibly fast cadence and said “Good job!”. He might have saved my race as I started following him closely, using him to pace me and to break the wind for a few miles.
The course has other two shorter but steeper hills at miles 6 and 7. When we reached the first of these hills, I noticed that my friend was slowing down as he said “I can no longer run hills like I used to”. So, I was back on 7th place and I could see once again the current 6th place. He was within reach, less than a quarter mile in front of me and I wouldn’t let him get away again.
I didn’t know this information at that point, but I was 2nd in my age-group, and the guy in front of me was 1st. The only thing I knew is that he was within reach, he probably was as tired as I was, I was just 2.5 flat miles away from the finish line, and I was going to try my best to catch him.
So, I went to my special place in my mind where there is nothing but a voice keeping track of my cadence and reminding me that there is no stopping at this point, that the race is almost over, that I no longer need to worry about saving any energy, I just need to move as fast as I can.
The gap between us closed gradually but surely. I always feel a bit of guilt passing someone on the last half-a-mile of the race, but there is also a lot of satisfaction, specially after feeling almost defeated when he passed me on mile 3. In the end, I finished strong with a sprint and managed to get a 10 second advantage over him. My 60+ friend finished just a few seconds after.
We all congratulated each other, and I went to the creek to drink some fresh water and stretch my legs. My official time was 1:04:08, good enough for 6th overall and 1st in my division!!