Last weekend, I ran my first 10 miler of the Memphis Runners Track Club Road Race Series! This was my 7th race of the series and we have just 3 more before we’re done! Our crew has held steady and I’ve had a blast running the races together — and celebrating after we finish.
Be warned, the following race report is long. I guess I have a lot of feelings?
I also want to share as many details as I can to help other future RRS runners!
Leading up to the race, I was a little anxious about covering 10 miles.
This course comes with a reputation for being beautiful, but also incredibly challenging. My pre-race Googling didn’t help, since most race reports I found left out the details I was looking for (just tell me about the hills!!).
I’ve run 10 milers while training for my previous half marathons, and this race comes at a perfect time in my training right nows, but I was still nervous for race day!
Race morning started super early. We left our house at 5:15 and picked up friends along the way as we trekked north of downtown Memphis. No matter where you’re driving from, it will take longer than you think to get into Shelby Forest.
Race Day Weather: 54 degrees!!!
Sidebar here: Clothes stress me out. I don’t like to be hot, especially when I run.
I also don’t want to freeze while waiting at the start or through the first few miles. We had a quick cold snap last week and when Saturday rolled around with a high in the low 50s, I really panicked. This was the first time in months I’d considered running in anything other than a tank top and shorts.
A general rule in running is to dress as though it’s 15 degrees warmer than the current temperature. Even though you may feel chilly before you start moving, once you start running you’ll be comfortable and not overdressed.
I ended up in a tank top, my favorite running shorts and a pair of armwarmers I found tucked in the back of my dresser. This outfit was perfect! Yes, I was cold before the start (and I could have brought a throwaway sweatshirt), but as soon as we set off and the sun came up it was perfect.
This race was turned out to be special for one simple reason. For the first time ever, I wasn’t alone.
Usually I stick by myself in races. I’ll chat with people around me or compliment someone on their running skirt or funny shirt, but generally I keep to myself.
Throughout the Road Race Series, I’ve found myself around the same people during each race. It’s comforting to see familiar faces (or backs, usually).
During this race, I ended up falling into step around mile 3 with two other runners. We stayed together for the majority of the race and it helped me have one of my best race experiences ever. I understand why people love group runs.
The encouragement was exactly what we all needed! I wouldn’t have pushed myself anywhere near as hard as I did if I had been alone.
Both runners had raced this course before, so it was helpful to hear about their previous experiences. They warned me about the hill at mile 6 (affectionately called “The Beast”) and confessed that everyone walks the switchbacks at mile 9 (thank God). Finally, I got some answers!
There are a few smaller hills in the early miles. You’re early enough in the race that it’s easy to tackle the incline and you have plenty of time to recover. The uphill at mile 6 is steep and can be a morale killer if you’re not prepared.
It’s okay to walk the uphills. You don’t want to waste needless energy and tire yourself out. If you choose to run uphill, keep your head and shoulders lifted and pick up your knees and you’ll be fine!
Determined to keep up with the duo (did I mention they were both men with very long legs?), I kept running and made a promise to myself I wouldn’t walk until the switchbacks.
After we climbed The Beast, we picked up the pace as we ran deeper into the forest on paved winding trails.
As you get closer to mile 9, the scenery becomes even more beautiful but the quality of the paved surface deteriorates. There are a few mossy portions of the road that are super slippery, so keep an eye out!
As for the switchbacks…there is nothing I can say that will comfort you. They’re are as hard and painful as you imagine them to be. Maybe worse. The climb is steep but short (less than .25 mi) and once you’re to the top you’ll finish out the rest of the race on much flatter roads.
Our trio split up during the switchbacks, so I finished the rest of the race solo. I have to admit I took a few quick walk breaks to catch my breath. I was relieved to cross the finish line in one piece and with a smile on my face!
I’m not sure I’ll want to try a repeat performance when we run this course again in a few weeks, and I’m definitely looking forward to our upcoming fast and flat half marathons. Three more races to go!
Helpful Tips for the 10 Miler:
- MRTC set up TONS of porta potties at the start line. Pre-race lines will be LONG so jump in line early. I didn’t see any other portapotties along the race route.
- Be prepared to navigate the walk from your car to the start line in the dark. The sun rose just before the race started. MRTC recommends you bring a headlamp or flashlight to get from your car to the start, but we were fine without. (I had to use my iPhone flashlight in the porta potty!)
- Parking can be a disaster. Be prepared for long waits. The race started late due to the traffic — give yourself extra travel time, it will take longer than you think to get into Shelby Forest.
- You may be asked to park off-road. Luckily we were in a Honda CRV and had no problems parking off-road or leaving after the race.
- This race has no gear check, however the course loops by the start line which was the perfect place to drop off your shits/hats/gloves. I chose to tuck my arm warmers into my shorts for a super fashionable look, but other runners dropped off their clothes and picked them up after the race.
- You will walk the switchbacks. Everyone will walk — or crawl — the switchbacks. Just don’t let that mean you walk the rest of the race! Give yourself a minute to let your heart rate recover and then haul ass to the finish line.
By the Numbers:
Race Results Say:
- 882 finishers
- Time: 1:47:33
- 10:45 pace
- Distance: 9.92 mi
- Time: 1:47:36
- Avg. Pace: 10:51 min/mi
- 10K PR! 1:06:00
- Fastest 16k ever.
- Most elevation gained ever.
- Most elevation lost ever.
- Longest duration run in 6 months.
- Longest run in 6 months.
- Most calories burned in 6 months.
- Coolest run in 3 months.
- Fastest mile split in a month.
- Hardest hills in a month.
- Best performance ever.
Memphis Runners Track Club Road Race Series:
There’s still time to register for the second 10 miler or either of the half marathons. Come run with us!