Not a Race: 2021 Bronx 10 Mile Race Recap

Finally! The Bronx 10M.

I was signed up for the Bronx 10 Mile in 2019, but my feet hurt (my long bout of plantar fasciitis had started just a couple of weeks earlier) so I didn’t run. Instead, I showed up with my camera and took some photos of fellow Harriers.

This year, I was good to go. Even if my dog wasn’t impressed.

This was not going to be a race. It was going to be part of my Sunday long run, about 16 or 17 miles in total. I planned on making a slight effort during the race to run a little faster than my regular long run pace, but nothing crazy.

I live a little over 3 miles from the start of the race, so I set out at 7 am and started running north. I felt good. I’ve been feeling better and better lately (mostly thanks to Jessica from #Runpainfree who has helped me so much in the past few weeks). It’s so nice to not be worried at the start of a run, especially when you know you have a long one ahead of you.

I ran through the quiet, early morning streets of Harlem, up 1st Avenue, seeing a few other Bronx 10M bibs on the way. I ran over the short Macombs Dam Bridge into the Bronx, passed by Yankee Stadium, and went a few more blocks until I started to see masses of runners headed toward the start.

It took me about 30 minutes to get there, a perfect warm up for not a race.

We couldn’t have asked for better weather: low 60s, not humid, partly cloudy. I can always stand cooler temps, but this would be just fine.

I was in corral D, where I’ve remained since running the 2018 Brooklyn Half in a fast enough time that got me out of G or H or wherever I was before. My current goal is to get into C, but I have a little more work to do before making that happen (specifically, a 7:34 pace 10K).

NYRR no longer requires masks in the corrals, although a few runners wore them pre-race.

I won’t break this race down mile by mile, because a lot of them were about the same. It’s an out-and-back course that takes runners north up Grand Concourse, around a quiet, narrow loop surrounded by trees, and then back down south along Grand Concourse.

Having run it, the way I picture the race is in three distinct chunks:

  • miles 1-4: north (some rolling hills)
  • miles 5-5.5: the loop (mostly flat)
  • miles 5.5-10: south (some rolling hills)

My goal was to set out at about marathon pace, 8:45-9:00. At least, I think this might be my marathon pace next month. As of this writing, I’m still figuring it out.

I thought that if I could speed up on the way back down, I would.

MILES 1-4: North

I felt strong at the start. It was actually really nice to start a race and not be going at what feels like breakneck speed. Many passed me, as I imagine that most corral D runners in a 10M race would run faster than my marathon pace, but I didn’t let it bother me. Fortunately, the road was wide enough that I don’t think I was in anyone’s way.

This is a bustling section of the Bronx, surrounded by shops and multi-story apartment buildings, so there was a nice crowd out to watch and cheer on the runners, always a nice thing to see at a race.

Before I reached the loop, I saw the front runners headed back. This is my favorite thing about out-and-back courses. I love seeing other runners at different parts of the race, whether they’re ahead of me or behind me.

I already had my belt open to grab a gel, so I took out my phone to get a few pics. I don’t normally do this in races, but since I wasn’t going ridiculously fast, I figured why not? I’m a photographer – this is my natural compulsion.

Here’s a little slideshow, starting with the eventual winner, Birhanu Dare Kemal. (The others are likely at the top of the race results). They’re not amazing pictures because I took them with an iPhone 7… while running. I edited them as best I could.

My paces were comfortable – it was a slight effort, definitely faster than an easy jog, but it also felt like something I could sustain for a while. These paces felt challenging just a few months ago, so I’m really happy with how much stronger I’ve gotten recently.

Miles 1-4: 8:41, 8:51, 8:51, 8:56

(I’m going to blame the 4th mile slowdown on all the picture taking.)

MILES 5-6: The Loop (+ .5M south)

This was a nice change of scenery from Grand Concourse.

It was also where I grabbed a cup of water from a table, making a valiant attempt at pinching and sipping as I ran, and I mostly did a good job. I wasn’t even thirsty, but I knew it’d be a good idea to wash down the gel I’d taken.

I don’t know if it was the elevation or the gel or just the change of scenery, but I sped up here, at least on the first part of the loop. The second part felt harder due to a gradual incline. Still, I knew I still had some juice left in my legs, a great feeling halfway through a race.

Coming out of the loop was an uphill, probably the steepest one of the race, that took the runners back onto Grand Concourse. It wasn’t a long hill, but steep enough that, with the previous incline, resulted in a slower mile 6.

Miles 5-6: 8:33, 8:54

MILES 7-10: South

This is where it started to get fun.

I’m so happy I held back for the first 6 miles; otherwise, the next 4 might have been a nightmare. Instead, I got faster.

There were still the same rolling hills on the way down, but knowing the finish was closer made them all the more easy. I still held back enough to last a few miles, but definitely picked up speed. Miles 7, 8, and 9 felt about the same. Once I had one mile to go, I knew the uphills were over. So I went for it.

Miles 7-10: 8:31, 8:35, 8:30, 7:57

I had not seen that 7:57 coming, but I guess I had more juice left than I’d thought.

I crossed the finish, feeling pretty good about what I’d just done. According to my Garmin, I had just run an average 8:37 pace for 10.06 miles. Without stopping.

Ooh, a medal! My first since the 2019 NYC Marathon.

I found the Harriers and we all took a pic, including a future Harrier.

After hanging out for longer than I had intended, I made my way out of the crowds and back to the bridge, down along 1st Avenue, and back home. Starting out on this run was tough – I was stiffer and more sore than I thought I would be. I loosened up as I went, but kept it very chill (about a 10:10 pace for 3 miles).

I’m really liking these easy miles after races. I don’t always do them, but I’m always happy when I do.

Although this wasn’t a race – at least, I didn’t exactly treat it like one – I’m pleased with how I did. I proved to myself that I could run an 8:37 pace for 10 miles and not feel terrible. In fact, I felt pretty good. Who knows what I might have been able to do had I raced it.

This race also showed me that the 8:45-9:00 pace range is more comfortable than I thought it might be, and maybe a good place to aim for marathon day, at least in the beginning. We’ll see how I feel once I’m over the Queensboro.

In total, I ran 16.5 miles that day. With just a slightly faster chunk in the middle.

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