Race Recap: Sea Isle 10 Mile Run (Or, the Captain Bill Gallagher 10 Mile Island Run)

This past Saturday I raced the Sea Isle 10 Mile Run. It’s more formally known as the Captain Bill Gallagher 10 Mile Island Run but that’s a moutful. My fiancée usually runs this race every year and it’s become a tradition, much like the Tri for Our Veterans Sprint Triathlon.

I finished in 14th place with a time of 58:45 – or 5:52 average mile pace. I listed my mile splits below and you can see the official race results here.

I had an ambitious goal before the race of breaking my 2007 personal best of 54:50 for 10 miles. Ultimately, I think I under-estimated the impact of hot weather, wind, racing on sand, and the camber of the beach. The race was very difficult and not conducive to running fast.

I had a solid two-week taper before the race and I felt incredibly rested. My last workout was the Tuesday before – a 3k at race pace (10:20), 2x600m at slightly faster than 5k pace (1:51, 1:50), and 4×200 (34, 3×33 seconds). I was feeling good and had some pop in my legs. And of course, I was jacked up on coffee before the start.

Unfortunately, this race has a 5:30pm start time. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a morning person and would rather get after it at 9am instead of in the afternoon. I was very cranky after the Rockville Twilight 8k a month ago, which didn’t start until nearly 9pm.

The field for the Sea Isle 10 Mile Run is incredibly competitive. In 2009, the top 13 runners broke 55 minutes (my goal) with another 7 under 56 minutes. My strategy leading into this year’s race was sticking with the first 15 runners through 7-8 miles and then going for broke. It kind of worked out like that.

The race started on the paved boardwalk parallel to the beach and made a sharp right onto the beach just before the mile mark. I struggled through about 100 meters of soft sand until we reached the hard packed sand along the water. The race officials make sure it’s low tide so there is a wide and flat area of sand to race along.

Well, I soon learned that the sand wasn’t as hard as I originally thought and it definitely wasn’t flat. There was a serious camber and it sloped down toward the water. This is why I hate beach running. My mile splits were all incredibly slow, which were because of a combination of sand, camber, and wind.

The course did a 180 degree turn at the 2.5 mile mark and went back past the starting line (the half-way point at 5 miles). Luckily, the wind was at my back after the sharp turn and from about mile 4-6 I was able to run on pavement. It didn’t do much good as the earlier miles on sand had robbed me of any energy.

I crossed over 100 meters of soft sand (3rd time) at about the 6th mile, reached another 180 degree turn at the 7.5 mile mark, and then went into the wind for the last 2.5 miles to finish on the beach.

The great thing about this race is the crowd support. There are hundreds of people lining the “course” and lots of families along the beach cheering the runners. It’s a very unique atmosphere and if I were to be convinced to do the race again, it would be because of the cheering fans.

For those interested in my splits, here they are:

5:57 (11:38)
5:57 (17:35)
5:54 (23:29)
5:51 (29:20)
5:52 (35:13)
5:59 (41:13)
6:03 (47:17)
5:53 (53:10)
5:35 (58:45)

They are quite similar to my marathon splits from New York two years ago, before I hit the wall around the 20th mile.

It’s important to learn from every race experience so what lessons can I take away from the Sea Isle 10 Mile Run? Clearly, it’s not a fast course so I shouldn’t have tried a PR attempt. The wind slowed the field down; it’s not as competitive as it was a year ago.

I don’t think I’ll be running this race again. I loved the atmosphere and would do it again simply for that, but the camber of the beach is aggressive and is an injury hazard.

I’m also going to avoid running afternoon races in the summer. That’s just asking for a heat-related disaster. Pushing the body to run faster than it ever has is tough by itself. Adding heat and humidity to the mix isn’t a good idea.

I’m now taking a one week break from running to rejuvenate physically and mentally. I’ve been training consistently since the beginning of April so I think this is a great time for a recovery block. I’m planning a short shake-out on Sunday and then I will start running Monday at about 75% of my previous mileage.

My goal for the fall is to race frequently. I want to always be ready to toe the line, which I’ve failed to do in the last 6 months or so. One of the many benefits of collegiate running is that you race almost every week (sometimes twice in one day). So you’re always getting more racing experience, no matter if you think you’re ready or not.

I’ll be focusing on 5k – 10k distances and looking to break my 4 year old 10k PR of 33:41. I’ve only raced one and I think I can go a lot faster (famous last words!).

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any race questions of your own! What races have you done recently? Any coming up soon? Let me know if you need an online running coach!

Get Stronger & Run Healthy

Join our free course to help you better prevent injuries, develop runner-specific strength, and avoid the big mistakes that get runners hurt