On Tuesday, July 29th I ran one of my favorite road races, The Yankee Homecoming 10 Miler in Newburyport, MA. It was the 8th time I've run the race and while not my fastest 10 miler, I was happy with my 1:19:09. Because this event is run in the evening and it's held in the middle of the summer it's often a very warm night. However, 2014 was a beautiful summer night to race with temps in the mid-70s and a nice cloud cover.
One reason I love this event is because of the varied terrain over the 10 miles, and the course gives you great views of the Merrimack River and Maudslay State Park. I always start out fast as the first two miles are flat or downhill, and this year was no different with my fastest two miles coming right away. The course stays pretty flat down Water St. which then turns into Merrimack St. As you run through downtown Newburyport both sides of the street are lined with cheering spectators. I love this part of the course because of the crowd support and the beautiful views of the river to the right.
Shortly after mile 4, the course starts to get interesting. You head into the woods and the rolling hills start. At this point I put in my headphones and tried to concentrate on keeping a steady pace. In longer events I usually run pretty consistent splits, but at Yankee I'm never able to do that. The flats and the hills really mess with my pace. There were volunteers at each mile marker calling out the time, but I tried not to hear them. I don't like to know if I've had a slow mile. I prefer to run based on how I feel and look at my splits later. For this race my fastest mile was 7:30 (mile 1) and my slowest was 8:14 (mile 5).
Miles 5-8 are scenic and rolling. I was happy with how I felt during these miles. I tried to keep a steady pace going up the hills without red lining. Running around and through Maudslay State Park is great! I always try to distract myself by taking in the view. I probably mystify most runners whose eyes are locked straight ahead as I swivel my head around and notice what I'm running by.
The last two miles of this race were tough for me. Getting over the I-95 overpass is challenging. It felt like the longest hill on the course, but it might be because it falls just before mile 8. After the overpass the course is mostly flat, but the road is straight and wide and you can see very far ahead. I tried to increase my pace after passing mile 8 but the open view made me feel like I wasn't making much forward progress. I ended up tucking in behind another runner and just staring at his back instead of the looking into the distance. That helped, and I ran 7:53 and 7:45 for the last two miles.
According to my Garmin, I ended up running 10.09 miles. I'll have to work on cutting the tangents better next time. But otherwise I'm very happy with my race. It was a great crowd to run with, good spectator support and lots of water stops (but could we have Gatorade too next year???). Yankee Homecoming 10 mile is a great summer race, and I hope to be back next year.