The race is held on the American Tobacco Trail which is a rails to trails converted course which consists of a low impact, compacted soil surface. I ran my first sub three hour marathon, a 2:55, on this course back in 2010 at the inaugural Tobacco Road Marathon. The American Tobacco Trail 10 Miler is put on by the North Carolina Road Runners Club and it's been the state championship 10 miles race since 2008.
I decided I would train for this like I would for a marathon because I have a history of running PRs in shorter distances during marathon training without tapering for the tune-up races. I didn't do as much mileage for this as I would a marathon; I peaked in the mid 60s for mileage in a week whereas in a marathon I would peak around 80 or a little over. The key parts I took from my marathon plans were the long tempo runs, goal marathon pace miles at the end of long runs, Zap Fitness style surges during long runs, and a mid week long run to go along with a weekend long run. I peaked my long run at 18.23 miles, which may be a bit much for a 10 miles race, but like I said I think it helped me.
I ran a disappointing Twin Bridges 8K Road Race on October 4th. That was largely due to the strong headwind the whole way on the point to point course and wasn't an indicator of my current fitness. I was confident both my 5 miles splits at this race would be faster than my time at Twin Bridges. My goal for this race was to break one hour.
The numbers looked smaller then what I had seen in previous results. There was still some fast looking runners there though. I lined up alongside friends Ryan Laytham and John Barry. The race started and I went out behind Ryan and John. They were shooting for sub 59 minutes so I knew if I stayed with them I would reach my goal of sub hour. The race starts on the road for about a quarter mile before making a sharp left turn onto the Tobacco Trail and running South to the turnaround and then back to the finish on the trail before the road. I ran the first mile in 5:41, faster than I planned but it was a downhill mile.
With the women starting just 10 minutes ahead of the men, I was worried about congestion and having to pass a lot of women. Luckily, they were mostly staying to the right of the trail and passing was not an issue. I was in seventh place after the first mile and settling into my goal pace. I wasn't far behind sixth place, a guy in a Raleigh Running Outfitters singlet who I had to beat since I run for Capital RunWalk. I ran miles two and three in 6:01 and 5:52. I gained on sixth place enough to make a pass but he was passing a group of women on the right leaving me to say excuse me and squeeze in between the women as I passed him and the ladies with a quick surge.
I rounded the clearly marked turnaround on the trail shortly after 5 miles and started the run back to the finish. I knew I had to keep pushing and not settle for the current pace I was on. I knew the final couple miles were going to be a gradual uphill since Ryan told me before the race started. For the most part the Tobacco Trail is flat and fast but there are some gradual inclines over the course of miles that you don't really notice until you are pushing it and fatigued. I ran mile six in 5:53 and split 10K around 36:40.
With four miles to go I was confident I was going to run sub hour unless I really blew up. With that in mind I started changing my focus to break 59 minutes. I was feeling fatigued but still able to stay consistent on pace and click off the next several miles. Miles seven, eight, and nine were 6:03, 5:54, and 6:01.
John Barry finished 4th overall, 1st masters, in 58:02. Ryan gained on John during the final miles and finished 5th overall in 58:08 and 1st in our age group (30-34).
The women's race was won by Michelle Langan in a new course record of 58:56. My friend Laura beat her PR from last year by mins and finished in 1:26:06. It was a good run for her considering she ran a half marathon the week before. She's still new to running, only been running for two years, and she's gonna keep improving.
My friend Adolfo volunteered at race and he got some pictures on his blog that you can view here.
This was a great race for me and my friends. I loved the course. I think the south part of the Tobacco Trail is prettier than running north if you start at the White Oak Church Road entrance. The whole trail is pretty and shady with trees lining both sides of the trail but you get a couple more views of some ponds and water on the south route. The race was well organized, the pint glasses awarded to all finishers was nice, and got a great tech shirt. Passing runners on the trail wasn't an issue for me. There are not many 10 miles races out there and this is one of the best. This is a must do North Carolina race.