I wasn't exactly looking forward to the Tar Heel 10 Miler on Saturday. It's a beautiful run past the highlights of Chapel Hill but gosh is the course agony! I never seem to focus and prepare for it mentally and emotionally: I was preoccupied by training for my spring half marathons last year and this year and didn't properly prep for the hills and do the 10 Miler justice. But all my friends run it, as do coworkers and acquaintances and (almost) family and people I know from college but haven't seen in years and fellow Fleet Feet training program members. And did I mention it's in gorgeous Chapel Hill?!

This year started off at least on a good note. Last year at the Tar Heel 10 Miler I was late and had to run from the car parked at the Dean Dome to the belltower and then run straight through the start line. Then this spring I was late to the Not So Normal half marathon in Carrboro and I had to run 0.67 miles from my car in the parking deck to the start line and then through the start line. So with this record my friends were placing bets on my tardiness, but I surprised them all by strolling up with 6 minutes to spare - just enough time to get the GPS watch going!

So. The race break-down:

  • 100 Yards Past Start Line: Ugh. Come on, legs. Why do I run again? And already a hill? Gosh I wonder how far I've run already. Feels like it's been forever. Oh crap! My GPS watch is still in bike mode! ::spends a quarter mile getting it fixed::
  • Mile 1: Yay blues singer!
  • Mile 2: Crap, are those other racers already on the loop back on Franklin Street? I wish I were that fast.
  • Mile 3: OH LOOK! A TINY COTTAGE FOR RENT! (I'm a little obsessed with tiny houses right now...in fact as I type this up I might have a tiny house show on the TV...) My friends pointed at the cottage. "Liz! Are you going to rent it??" I laughed, but unfortunately the for rent sign clearly said, "NO PETS." Oh darn.
  • Mile 4: What the heck, is it really only mile 4?! These hills are making my legs burn. I'm going to die on Laurel Hill. Passing the Old Well there were about a dozen or so students in Carolina blue graduation gowns, gawking at us in between taking pictures. "Just keep running."
  • Mile 5: halfway there! Don't die don't die don't die don't die.
  • Mile 6: Gimghoul neighborhood. Pretty. Scenic. Did I mention hilly?
  • Mile 7: Current ear worm? "The more you suffer/the more it shows you really care/Right? Yeah yeah yeah." Yup. Cue these Offspring chorus lines playing in my head over and over and over.
  • Mile 8: There are buzzards circling overhead. Everyone around me looks like they're in agony and are about to keel over; they look exactly how I feel. Is this it? Is this how it ends? I'm going to die on the side of a road in Chapel Hill and buzzards are going to pick my bones clean? Alright. I'm okay with that right now.

"Hey girl, if you can't finish the race that's fine. I'll gladly eat your entrails." - Turkey vulture. (Not my image; it's licensed.)

  • Mile 8.5: OH NO LAUREL HILL! Per the race website: 
Laurel Hill Road passes through one of the most exclusive and beautiful neighborhoods in Chapel Hill, but it has a reputation for being one of the most challenging roads to run up. Over the course of approximately one mile, runners will climb just over 200 vertical feet. Runners will cross a timing mat at the bottom and top of Laurel Hill Road. A separate split will be included in your final results, so start placing your bets now with your runner friends.
— http://tarheel10miler.com/race-info/course/

Well, at least if I'm going to die on this hill I'm going to die to the sweet sounds of alp horns. Thank you, eccentric Chapel Hill race spectators. I love you. I definitely don't love this hill, but right now I love you.

  • Mile 9: One mile left. Sh*t sh*t sh*t sh*t sh*t sh*t just make it to the finish line. Running this hill is making me need to pee.
  • Mile 10: OMG WHY ARE THE STADIUM BATHROOMS SO FAR AWAY FROM THE FINISH LINE?! Seriously, please move, I will pee on you. Oh, a medal? I don't mind if I do take one, thank you very much. NOW WHERE'S THE D*** BATHROOM?!

As you can tell, the Tar Heel 10 Miler is my annual reminder to do more core workouts and hill climbs, because apparently no matter how many of those I do it's never enough. The good news is I ran the course faster this year than I ran it in 2015 - by a good 4 minutes. Other good news: I didn't chafe! Not having to run through the start line, no chafing, and a PR? I'm going to chalk that up in a win column.

Can I just mention I'm obsessed with these shorts? I saw another woman wearing them before the race, but she had on a 2014 OBX marathon/half marathon shirt. I hollered at her, "Hey, I almost wore that shirt today too!" and grinned. She wasn't so amused. "Yeah. We would have been twins," she said a little dryly. Well, duh. That was the point. Oh well. (PS there's an affiliate link in there, just a head's up.)

All in all it's a beautiful race. It's brutal and brings out the most dramatic aspects of my personality, but it's certainly beautiful. So who wants to run it with me next year?

Run local and drink local. Because hard cider counts as a recovery drink, right??

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