Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Race Recap & Review: The Mission 10 Miler

On Sunday, I completed my first 10 mile race. Let me say this- it was an experience.

As you might recall, my Dad is running the 5th anniversary of Disney's Wine & Dine Half Marathon with Matthew and me in November. He's also considering the Walt Disney World Marathon for 2015. Now, as some of you know, runDisney recently changed the way it places runners into corrals. Basically, unless you have an official proof of time from a race (10k or longer for a half, 10 mile or longer for a full), you will be placed in the last corral. To avoid this, I decided to find some races to help Dad get a proof of time.

Enter the Mission 10 Miler. This was a semi-local race (about an hour from me in Frederick, MD), affordable ($50), and the proceeds went to a great cause- the Frederick Rescue Mission. With a 10 mile race for proof of time, I knew that Dad would be well on his way to a higher corral for any Disney race- no matter the distance. And this would be a good test for him for the half marathon. And it was another race I could put on my calendar- I'm addicted, what can I say?

Anyway, so this Sunday we woke to temperatures hovering in the high 30's/low 40's and lots of rain. Dad and I had been chatting on the phone throughout the week discussing what we would wear. We both decided on a short sleeved shirt, a long sleeved shirt, shorts, and a hat. However, with the rain starting to freeze, I had some doubts that we would be warm enough in that.

My original plan.

I decided to stop by Walmart on race-day morning and pick up a few more things- I grabbed two Russell Athletic light jackets and two $5 ponchos. By far, best decision I made this week. I left the store and headed down to the race.

I arrived at Harry Grove Stadium at a little after 12 pm to pick up my packet- which was really easy. I got our bibs, shirts, and timing chips and then walked around looking at some of the vendors. It was super cold and was snowing/sleeting- luckily all of this was inside a tent. I asked a volunteer if any of the stadium bathrooms were open- turns out they weren't but she did offer me a cup of the "volunteer only" coffee so that was pretty awesome. A+ for helpful and kind volunteers!

Just look at that beautiful weather :-/ 

In the parking lot near the giant tent.

I headed back to the car to wait for my dad and finish getting dressed. I decided to wear capris instead of shorts and decided to wear my knee high compression socks. I put the jacket on over my long sleeved t-shirt and then put the poncho on over that. I also wore a Nike headband to keep my ears warm and put an Under Armour running hat over that. At the last minute, I had grabbed cheap gloves- I decided I'd take them with me to the start and see how far I got with them.

Dad arrived to the race site (the starting and finish line were right next to the parking lot so that was pretty cool) and we headed to the tent to wait with 550 other runners, desperately trying to stay dry for as long as we could. Neither of us were taking phones or ipods. With it being so rainy/snowy, we didn't want to ruin our electronic devices.

At the starting line, photo courtesy of Frederick Rescue Mission.

Matching Walmart jackets and ponchos!

Finally, at a little after 2 pm, the race started. Dad and I were hoping to keep about a 12 minute/mile pace and finish around two hours. This was Dad's first race in probably 10 years so it was really fun to watch him as he reacted to everything for the first time- all his previous races were 5ks.

Miles 1-3 were actually quite pleasant. The rain had almost stopped and it was actually snowing. It was quite beautiful. We were running on major roads that had a few lanes blocked off for us. There were some rolling hills, but nothing too challenging. The most difficult part of this course was the slush on the road. I felt like we had to slow down a little because the ground was slick with rain water, snow, and ice.

We turned a corner around mile 4 and everything changed. Suddenly, the wind was whipping at us, head-on. It felt like hundreds of small needles piercing my face and my legs! We turned our ponchos around and wore them backward so the hood could cover up the majority of our faces. I remember just looking down at other people's feet during this part- by now the lead runners were headed back to the finish because this was an out-and-back race. Believe it or not, someone was running this race BAREFOOT! Yikes!

Course map, courtesy of Mission 10 Miler

Finally, we reached the turn-around point and would have the wind at our backs. We made two bathroom stops on the way out and our five mile time was 1:03. We both hoped to make up some time now that we weren't fighting that awful 40 mph wind.

On the way back, this race felt super hilly. I was also really tired. I don't know if it was the weather or what, but I just wasn't feeling 100%. Meanwhile, Dad is feeling awesome! I was probably holding him back! We tried to maintain a 12 minute pace so we picked it up a little during our run intervals. Dad wanted to pass some people- which we ended up doing :-)

From miles 5- 8, it rained. Not hard rain, but a pretty steady rain. I couldn't wait to be done. At this point, I could feel my arms starting to get cold and wet. The jacket and poncho were doing all they could- we had been out there for around and hour and a half.

Every water station (there was one about every mile and a half) was iced over- it was insane to see! All the cups of water/mile marker signs/tables were covered in ice. God bless those volunteers- they were clapping and jumping around in freezing rain and snow! Such dedication- again, I don't think I've ever been more thankful for such amazing volunteers in a race.

At last, we saw the mile marker for mile 8. We both agreed to pick up the pace slightly and try to finish as close as we could to two hours. Right about then, the wind changed and was once again, whipping in our faces. The weather was laughable at this point :-)

I mustered all the strength I could and pressed on to the finish. I still can't get over how awesome Dad was doing- he was strong and feeling great. I kept trying to wave him on but he said he wanted to cross the finish line together- I mean really, how blessed am I to have him as a father?

We could see the finish line in the distance. I told him when to sprint and we did- and crossed the finish line together! It was such a proud moment for me- my Dad just ran 10 miles!!!!!! He's such a bad ass!!!!

The volunteers were quick to give us a Mylar blanket-  the first time I've ever got one of those before. Then we got our medals, a bottle of water, and exited the finisher's chute. There was food in the tent but we headed straight to the car to strip down and warm up. Once we stopped running, we were freezing! We finished in 2:06:55. Not my best but certainly not my worst. We finished- and now Dad has a qualifying time for Disney.

Cold but proud finishers! 

Before I changed in the parking lot again (runners have no shame!), I ran into my friend Justin. I first met him through Matthew at Wine & Dine Half weekend 2011- runDisney friends are for life! We had seen each other just before the start too- turns out we both were wearing the same Walmart jacket that we'd both bought that morning- great minds think alike! :-)

Our smiles were just a bit bigger before spending a few hours in the rain!

Dad and I dried off and changed and then headed into downtown Frederick to get something to eat before driving our separate ways home. We ate at a place called Brewer's Alley and it was fabulous! I had awesome french onion soup and goat cheese/caramelized onion/apple pizza. Delicious! Dad and his friend Margie (who was our awesome spectator!) enjoyed some craft beer. I was still shivering so I only ordered coffee. And I was pretty exhausted and would have probably fell asleep at the table if I had a beer- ha!

Enjoying a celebratory beverage.

This was ridiculously amazing.

Will definitely visit this place again soon.

Overall, this race was a wonderful experience- minus the weather. Great course support, awesome volunteers, quality finisher's medal/t-shirt, and very well-organized. I will easily do this race again. The race directors even issued this super-sweet thank you message on their website. I mean, really- how cool is that?! I am already looking forward to next year's event- hopefully late March won't bring snow and freezing rain in 2015!

Thanks for a great race, Mission 10 Miler!

QOTD- What are the worst weather conditions you've ever run in? Would you rather in the cold or the heat?


  1. Way to tough it out and finish the race! My longest training runs for WDW half were all in bitter cold, rain or snowy conditions. I think in the end those conditions make you a stronger runner physically and mentally :)

    1. I sure hope so! I've trained through this never-ending winter but this was by far the absolute worst!

  2. Congrats to both of you - you are definitely hardcore!

    -Rick Stiles

    1. Thanks, Rick! I am glad we did it but don't need to do it again in that weather anytime soon :-)

  3. Runners who take on races in such crazy weather conditions have my respect. It's almost embarrassing to admit that the 5K I ran this weekend featured temps in the upper 60's and sunny conditions. We did have a moderate earthquake the night before however.

    Great job in just miserable conditions to you and your dad!

    1. Thanks so much Greg! I can't imagine earthquakes!! I stick with the never-ending winter :-)