The Bellin 10K is one of the largest 10K races in the United States. Today I was proud to toe the starting line with more than 18,000 runners and walkers for a jaunt through the tree lined streets of Green Bay and Allouez.
Race recap short version: Hot. Windy. Humid. Sunny. No PR. Disappointment. Still trying to cool off and rehydrate. Continue on for the long version.
I had picked the Bellin to be my late Spring, early Summer “A” race for which to focus my training efforts. I grew up in Green Bay, have run the Bellin many times, and know its course is well. I came into the race weekend feeling fit and fast. My training, including a recent 5K PR, had me where I wanted to be. I also have dropped 6 pounds in the last 8 weeks and am racing at a weight I have not been at since the mid 1990s. All in all things were right where I wanted them to be.
3 weeks ago the Green Bay marathon was beset by warm weather and about 2.5 hours into the race the course was officially closed. The resulting medical problems, as well as negative reaction from runners still on the course at the time it closed, had Bellin race officials closely monitoring the forecast for today. Unseasonably heat and humidity, with no cloud cover and a strong wind were in the forecast and race organizers took action with an improved event warning notification system, more water stations, ice stations on the course, asking residents to provide sprinklers, and warning runners to adjust their expectations for race day.
I have done plenty of running in warm weather and was not overly concerned about this morning’s forecast. I might have been too cavalier about the forecast and how it might impact my goal to PR (run under 42 minutes). I ran the Green Bay half marathon at a comfortable pace and was not really bothered by the heat.
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I am a strong believer (or I was) in maintaining normal routines on race day. As such I awoke at 0540, made oatmeal and coffee as I eat every morning, and drank about 16 ounces of water (in addition to the coffee). We left for the race at about 0655. It was warm, but not significant warmth in my opinion. I think it was about 72F and there was a 10-15 mph wind from the south/southwest. After walking about 5 blocks from our parking area to the start I found a port-a-potty with no lines. After a “mission accomplished” I had a glass of water (about 4 ounces) and made my way to some shade near corral 1. At about 0730 I ran for about 5 minutes on a side street. Starting at an easy pace and increasing to about half marathon pace (7:30) I was surprised that I was quickly dripping with sweat. I slowed down and jogged back to the port-a-potty area. Lines were too long so I walked into corral 1. I am not sure what the temp was at the race start but it felt closer to 80F than 70F.
Corral 1 is located on Webster Avenue directly in front of Bellin hospital. The entire corral is in full sun with no shade. Simply standing in place I could feel the sweat trickling down my back and armpits. It was officially hot for me. Because of the adjacent buildings and other runners there was no breeze. I spent the next 15 minutes, during the national anthem and elite runner introductions, heating up and sweating.
Mile 1: 6:40
I have a tendency to start much faster than my goal pace. One of the things that went well for me today was I found my goal pace and was able to hold close to it through mile 1. I was far enough in the front of the corral that I had few slower runners in front of me and few runners over taking me. Also most runners were on the west side of Webster. I joined a small group of runners on the east side of Webster and avoided congestion from other runners.
The highlight of mile 1 was seeing the myTeamTriumph teams that started after the wheelchair division and before the elite runners. I saw many familiar Captains and angels from my experiences with mTT and shouted a hello to a few of them.
Mile 2: 6:55
Unlike mile 1, the second mile is mostly in the sun with little shade. I was still holding my goal pace well, but could really feel my core temp rising. I also felt really thirsty. At the first water stop I doused my head with water and swished a swallow down.
I usually avoid sprinklers, but not today. During mile 2 I took advantage of running through several sprinklers. The cool mist was a welcome relief.
Towards the end of mile 2 I was coming to the realization that today was not my day. The heat was getting to me and I was working too hard to maintain my goal pace.
Mile 3: 6:29
A large portion of mile 3 is descending from Webster on Greene Avenue. Because we turned east we lost the breeze and gained more sun. Although I found respite and speed in running downhill and through sprinklers the wheels were coming off.
My family was cheering at about the 2.5 mile mark. I appreciated their cheers as I pushed hard to maintain my goal pace, at least through the 5k mark.
Mile 4: 6:59
After crossing the 5k timing mat, just after the turn north off of Greene, I decided to slow down a bit. Hoping that running a little slower might help me, but by this point I was simply overheated. This was despite running through almost nearly every sprinkler and dousing my head with 2 cups of water at every water station. Turns out this was not my day.
Mile 5: 7:50
The hottest portion of the course is always just after the mile 4 marker on St. Josephs Avenue. This section of the course is also full sun and the pavement is a jumble of cracks and pot holes. I knew the whole operation was blowing up so I slowed to a walk for about a minute. A thumbs up to a medical official on a bike got me a “stay in your limits.”
After my brief walk I began to run again and enjoy the final portions of the course.
Mile 6: 7:32
The final mile begins with a gradual climb from Libal/Baird Street to Clay Street. Somehow I managed to keep running despite my brain screaming for another walking break. A lot of runners were passing me but I was managing to pass some runners also punched out from the heat.
Once on Clay Street, a wonderful tree lined residential street, I continued to run through sprinklers and douse my head as I ran through every water station. The shade, cool mist fans, sprinklers and head soaks were too little too late.
I mustered a boost to my pace for the final 0.2 miles to finish. Oddly there were very few runners in front of me or behind me as I crossed the finish line. I will be excited to see the finish line video/photos to see if the course was as vacant as I perceived it to be or if rather I was having a heat induced hallucination that I was the only runner on the course.
After crossing the finish line runners have a several block area which includes a water bottle, finisher photo, and snack bag. This walk was unusually quiet and slow for all the runners than years past. I was heartened to see I wasn’t the only one wiped out by the heat.
C- for my “A” Race
After focusing my winter and spring training on building my speed for this race I am bummed that things went poorly. While I am glad to be fitter and faster than ever I am disappointed my official race time doesn’t reflect that fitness. In the weeks ahead I will be turning my attention to training for the Fox Cities Marathon. It will be good to run further and slower.
After the race I joined the crowd to cheer for friends, family, and strangers. With 18,000 registrants the river of people coming down Clay St. seems endless. It is great to see so many kids and adults of all ages completing the Bellin. The huge number of kids that participate in the Bellin is part of what makes the Bellin so unique.
- overall place: 344 out of 15134
- division place: 24 out of 666
- gender place: 305 out of 6243
- time: 43:51
- pace: 7:04
- 5ksplit: 20:48