Sunday, May 15, 2011

Cotton Row 10k Training

This morning I ran the Cotton Row 10k course for the second time this training season.  For some reason, I love this course and this race.  A slightly rolling course for the first 3 miles, a brutal pace-dropping hill in the middle, and then a slight downhill for the rest of the way.  Charming old neighborhoods, awesome canopied streets, and downtown Huntsville (which I also think is charming).  And then there is the turnout.  It isn't just the regulars of the running community but everyone who is interested in running at all.  I love seeing people from the places I've worked, church friends, and then all the usual running crew.  It is such a festive atmosphere, full of fun and excitement for the challenging course ahead.  It feels like the entire community turns out to run the 10k or the 5k - and there is a 1 mile too.

This year I may be running all three.  I'll be racing the 10k for myself.  I'm going for 45 minutes.  My best is 47 minutes.  A big leap, I know, but I think it is doable and I'm hitting some hard hills, trying to run shorter, faster distances, and telling myself over and over again that I am small and fast.  I think this is as true as I make it. 

For the 5k, I'll be running with a new friend and current No Boundaries participant named Melinda.  She is one of our strongest runners this time around and her goal is to run the 5k in 30 minutes.  I think she has that in the bag.  This Friday morning we did a 3 miler and her splits were 10:33, 9:58, and 9:15.  She said she was dying, but she didn't slow and she's still breathing so...I think she will be fine.  I intend to see if she'd be interested in training for a 10k once she has completed this 5k. I'd love to help her get there if she is.

I'm not sure if I will be running the 1 mile, but an old work buddy has asked if I would be willing to run with a grandkid of his since they have more kids running than they have adults to accompany them.  I said sure.  I ran with my niece one year, although I don't think she really cared for it much.  Neither she nor my nephew have expressed any desire to run but...I hold out hope that maybe some day they might.

I remember when I ran Cotton Row for the very first time in 1996.  I was 16 years old and still living in Panama City at the time.  My sister had married that year and moved to Huntsville so we came to visit and run the race.  I had never in my life witnessed a hill like the one at mile 3.  My jaw fell open as I watched the momentum of the crowd slow considerably and I thought, "You've got to be kidding me."  Panama City didn't even have bumps in the road, let alone hills of this magnitude.  I managed to get myself to the top, but had to walk once I got there.  My lungs were heaving and I wanted to lie down.  At that time in my life, I believed that if you walked during a race it no longer counted as a race.  And I had walked.  In a race.  For the first time.

I recently found the booklet from that year and my time was 1:12:00.  It is currently 47:00.  That is pretty amazing to me.  And I no longer have to walk after I shimmy up that hill.  That may be another reason I love this race so much.  I get to look back and see how far I've come and that is a huge encouragement to someone who still hopes to break their own records and run faster than they ever imagined imagining was possible. 

Despite my lack of motivation since the Andrew Jackson Marathon, this race helps to awaken it again.  New possibilities, new goals and one majorly hard hill.  May 31, Memorial Day.  Sign up if you haven't already!  It is a great race!

Jason leading the pack in the Cotton Row 10k 2009


  1. Love, love, love that pic of Jason!

  2. Me too. I couldn't resist posting it.

  3. Thanks for the memories. I love hearing people's stories about Cotton Row. And, like you, I also love seeing everyone the day of the races too. I would love to see your picture from the day of the 1996 race if you can find it!

  4. I know exactly where it is! I will try to remember to bring it to our next run.

  5. You should POST the picture so everyone can see it!!! With this and Katie's post...I was looking forward to it before, but now I CAN'T WAIT til Monday! :D