Tyler Challenge Race

Upon running up to my parents’ house after the aforementioned rainy run, I saw folks getting out of the car […]

By on January 16, 2007 | Comments

Upon running up to my parents’ house after the aforementioned rainy run, I saw folks getting out of the car at our long time neighbors’, the Parkers’. Well, I went over and chatted since my parents weren’t home yet. In the course of talking, Mr. Parker mentioned there was a 10k on Sunday and that I should do it. I replied that I’d think about it, but that I had planned on a long run on Sunday. That’s when he threw down. You see, John took me on some of my first runs fourteen and a half years ago and was a running mentor/second father threw high school. In all those years, I had never beat him in a race despite toeing the line together many times. I decided to accept the challenge and even gave him a handicap… I would run to the race! The night before the race I planned a route to the park where it was being held and opted for a course that was a couple miles longer than the shortest way but with less traffic.

About 5 miles into the run to the race I was doubting myself. My legs were heavy and the hills relentless. I knew I could make it to the race and finish, but it might not be pretty. Even though I wasn’t feeling great, it was a beautiful run. It sit here writing this up almost 3 weeks after the race and I vividly recall crossing the bridge over the Delaware River about a mile into the run. There was light fog on the river, the sun was about to break over the trees on the river’s east bank, the sky was a crisp pallet of pastels, and the air still sharp with the night’s chill. I’d only run a small section of the roads on the route, and all but the last mile or two were beautiful hilly country roads past farms and colonial era house.

After I got the race I quickly signed up for the race, had some Clif Bloks (love ’em), and met up with Parker and some of his running buddies. The ladies started 6 minutes before the men’s gun went off. When the gun did fire, I went off a bit faster than expected – about 6 minute flat pace on the even terrain. It felt pretty comfortable. Not long thereafter … and for quite awhile, the course got pretty hill. I had noted my heart rate I plateaued for 6 min/mile pace on the flat and stuck to that regardless of my pace on the hills. The morning was also very, VERY windy. About a mile into the race we entered about two miles of open grass fields and I settled into a pack to let them break the wind.

The second half the race started with a nasty uphill before once again mixing rolling hills with some short flats. On the first half, I had handled the pace and effort rather well and felt like I was in control even though I was running at a pace I hadn’t hit in seven months or so – I decided to continue with the same game plan. Although the race was pretty spread out at this point, I could see that I was slowly working my way up and that felt pretty good. With a mile to go, I still felt strong so I upped the effort and rolled past a couple people. I was making good progress towards catching on of Parker’s friends, but I had incorrectly thought that the start and finish were the same. In fact, the finish was about 200 meters short of the start, which meant that I didn’t unleash my kick and didn’t catch the guy. I ended up 9th in around 37:55. Not bad for a hilly course on a windy day with no speed work… and 12 miles on my legs at the start.

Bryon Powell

Bryon Powell is the Founding Editor of iRunFar. He’s been writing about trail running, ultrarunning, and running gear for more than 15 years. Aside from iRunFar, he’s authored the books Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons and Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running, been a contributing editor at Trail Runner magazine, written for publications including Outside, Sierra, and Running Times, and coached ultrarunners of all abilities. Based in Silverton, Colorado, Bryon is an avid trail runner and ultrarunner who competes in events from the Hardrock 100 Mile just out his front door to races long and short around the world, that is, when he’s not fly fishing or tending to his garden.