Well, I did it. I signed up for a race this weekend, even though I wasn't planning on doing it. It's a 10-miler up in Culpeper, about a 4-hour drive north of me. I hold a lot of sentimental attachment to this distance. So far the Lord has allowed me to complete 10 of them.
A lot of people seem to neglect the 10-miler -- it kinda gets forgotten between a 10K race (6.2) miles and a half marathon (13.1 miles). But it makes a lot of sense to run a 10 mile race. It's a great way to gauge my fitness before my 42nd half marathon in 2 weeks. Plus, if you already have a baseline of fitness, it shouldn't take you too long to get ready to tackle that distance.
My favorite 10 mile race is the famous Virginia 10 Miler, held in Lynchburg every year. I have done that race 4 times. The race is made even more exciting because of its elite field of runners (the winners are almost always Kenyans or Ethiopians) and its large prize money. A 10-miler requires a little bit of everything -- 10 miles is long enough to demand endurance and strength but short enough to also allow for speed. The race is long enough that you can't recover if you go out too fast. I usually find my pace by mile 3 and then just coast to the finish line after that. I'm never fast, but occasionally I do have a new PR, as in this Virginia 10 Miler a few years ago.
In my opinion, it's a good idea for runners to conquer this distance before moving on to racing half marathons. The distance is a good predictor of how well you might do at 13.1 miles. Really, the 10-miler is the best of both worlds. It takes less time to prepare for than a half, but it is still quite an achievement.