My wife and I decided on the Giralda Farms 10k in Madison, NJ. At only $18, it’s a steal! I figured, with the race being so cheap, it would be a rather small and poorly organized affair. I was wrong. The race was a decent size and was very well run. Even though they do a 5k and 10k that start together, the course was very clearly marked and easy to follow. There was no confusion over which direction to go for each distance. While there we no clocks at each mile, there were volunteers with stopwatches calling out the time as we passed.
10k is a weird distance for a race, I think. Usually, the only time I think about 10k as a distance at all is when thinking about the end of a marathon. However, six miles is a distance I know very well from training, for a very long time, that was my go-to distance when I was just going out for a run. Once I started getting into more serious training plans that varied my distance a lot more, that changed a bit, but I’ve done _tons_ of six-milers over the last four and a half years. I know the distance well, I just have never thought about it from a racing standpoint.
That being said, I’ve been having a tough time bouncing back from the Chicago Marathon, nothing is really feeling right and my legs haven’t been appreciative of my desire to put them to work. So with that in mind, I figured I’d keep it relatively easy and give maybe 80-85%. I was shooting for a 7:10 min/mile pace. Just under my best marathon pace, but a bit slower than my half marathon pace and way slower than my 5k pace.
The Giralda Farms 10k course consists of two big loops. One is on one side of the office complex and the other is around the other side. Yeah, it’s weird, the office complex is called Giralda Farms. The course is also quite hilly with constant rolling hills to deal with.
The race starts facing down a hill for the first mile. Just before the start, I reminded my wife to be careful in the beginning, starting downhill can be dangerous. It’s easy to end up running way too fast and getting into a rhythm for a pace your body can’t keep. Unfortunately, stupid me didn’t heed my own advice. I didn’t feel like I was going too fast, in fact, I _felt_ like I was at a nice 7 min/mile pace, but as I got to the first mile-marker, I found out I had run a 6:37 first mile. I knew that was a bit too fast for me to maintain for 6.2 miles on that course and in my current physical state, so I pulled it back a bit from there and was able to keep relatively steady the rest of the race.
Just at the end of the first mile, you hit the first uphill…after running downhill for a full mile. This was a steep hill too. It felt like we were climbing back up most of the elevation in just an eighth of a mile or so. It was tough.
At the end of the first loop, we came back down the hill we started on, but this time at the bottom, there was a 180° turn around to take us right back up the hill. This was another tough climb, but once back at the top, we were just about at the fourth mile-marker and starting the loop around the other half of the corporate park. Most of this loop was downhill, but it was a constant downhill forcing you to always be focusing on controlling your speed.
As we rounded towards the final mile of the race, we got back onto the main road we’d already run on three times and made our way to the finish line. Luckily, the turn off for the finish was before the steep part of this uphill so it wasn’t too bad.
I ended up sprinting across the finish line a bit under my desired time at 43:14, a 6:58 min/mile average. I was happy with that given what I was looking to do, but I felt like I had to put in a bit more effort than I should have given my recent marathon time.
The Giralda Farms 10k is a challenging course, but it was a fun race and was well organized. For $18, you really can’t complain.