Bringing It All Back Home (An Abe's Amble 10k Race Report)

1st place - 31:34
Strava data (via Suunto Ambit2 S)
State Journal Register article 

For the second year in a row, I decided to run the Abe's Amble 10k in my home town of Springfield, Illinois.  This is the biggest race in Springfield—if not by number, at least the biggest to me due to its history.  The race used to have prize money and would find its way on to the road racing schedule of many top Midwestern professionals.  Craig Virgin and Jeff Jacobs, for example, and former course record holder, Kenyan Simon Sawe, who ran 29:38 in 1998.  The course changed 11 years ago, so Sawe's extremely stout old course record is now permanent.

Coming down the home stretch
Last year was my first time racing Abe's, which is sort of funny since I grew up in the area.  I think 10k always seemed too long to me when I was in high school and college; quite funny, since my current focus is 50 miles or more.  Since the course change in the early 2000s, there hasn't been any prize money, so the level of competition has naturally been a bit lower.  A long-time Springfield area competitor, Bryan Glass, won 8 times straight before I managed to take the title last year.  The new course is apparently much hillier than the previous one, though I can't really speak to the difference.  Additionally, I had 6.32 miles logged on my GPS, so it seems possible it might be a bit long (my 10k split via GPS was 30:59—which would actually tie an old track PR).  Of course GPS isn't always the most accurate thing in the world (especially on trails and in the mountains), but on a road course, my watch is usually pretty accurate.  The official 31:34 that I ran was a record on the new course, dipping under the old record of 31:46, which I shared with Bryan Glass.

I'm in a similar place in my training right now as I was at this time last year—coming off a summer training break and building up for the fall ultras—so I figured my time would be similar.  I've been running a bit faster all year though (e.g. PRs at 5k, 10 miles, and marathon), so I knew with a good day I could get the record.  Race morning arrived overcast, but warm and very humid.  I knew Bryan would run tough and smart like always, but I felt this race was mine to lose.  Within 400 meters, I was clear of the field and ready to run a hard solo effort.  I felt good, but not great; I think I managed things fairly well running by myself, hitting close to even splits despite the hills and humidity.  My mile splits according to GPS were 4:56, 5:00, 4:56, 5:00, 5:02, 5:06.

It was fun to race a 10k, though it can be a tough distance to race.  You're hurting a fair bit by about 2 or 3 miles, and you still have a good 15-20 minutes of pain to manage.  It requires a lot of mental focus.  Of course so does an ultra, and you're in pain for a lot longer with one of those, but it's different.  All race distances are—which is why it's so fun to race over all distances and terrains.  Each presents its own unique challenges, and I find value and joy in those challenges pretty much regardless of number of miles covered or the running surface.

Enjoying some State Fair donuts post-race
Meeting the 80+ men's and women's winners
The Abe's Amble is the only 10k I've done in the last few years as there aren't too many around; it's a fun one with a lot of history, and it's important to me to stay involved in the Springfield running community.  It's a great opportunity to see old friends, teammates, competitors, and coaches.  I'm glad I took that opportunity again this year; and I hope to come back as many years as I'm able.  Thanks to first-year RD Emily Bernardes for continuing a great race tradition!

Outside the state capitol with Beth (reppin' the UGo Bars and Quaff ON!)