I love race plans. I always get a laugh when I reflect on my plan after the race. Or a "How did that happen?" feeling when a race actually goes to the way I expected.
I don't get the latter feeling too often.
In any case, the race weather was splendid. In the beginning of the week, the weather was promised fine, and I didn't believe it. Last couple of days, the weather promised wintery mix, and I chose to hope for the best.
I got lucky. It happens, from time to time.
Low to mid 30s, nice bright sun, and a breeze that probably helped more than it hurt. One of the big non-controllable factors work out about as well as I could have possibly hoped, and I thought during the run that I should give all due amazement for the fact.
Also for the fact that I didn't overdress. It was a near thing.
Anyway, I got to the race, parked far away but easily, and did the packet pick up thing. Did a brief (1 mile) warm up, regretted that I forgot to bring my Gu, and lined up next to some friends and waited for the start.
I also love goals, much as I love race plans. I always go in with bunches of goals, from the aggressive to the intelligent to the silly. Usually I can hit a bunch of them, sometimes all, but most of the time only a few.
For this race, my time goals were as follows: 1:35-1:37 if things go amazingly well. I gave myself a 1 in 5 chance of hitting this one. If I run smart, 1:37-1:40. That would have been my 'happy with the race' goal, meaning I'm running about where I expected. 1:45+ would have been okay, but it would have meant either I snag (like pain that warns of injury) or I decided to run with someone just for the fun of it.
The race started, and I settled into the "comfortably hard" groove that makes me love half marathons. It felt like a 7:30-7:40 pace to me. Garmin said it was 7:23. I thought "cool" and didn't change a thing effort wise.
Next lap went by in 7:10. I thought to myself: "this is something close to my 10K pace last winter. Sweet!"
Around mile 3 or 4 I got passed by a women wearing a Boston Marathon Jacket. Personally, I have no problem at all getting chicked, especially by a women wearing a Boston jacket. But she was going about my speed, and I thought: Hm. Maybe I can keep up!
So I ran along, attacked (or floated over) the hills, and tried to run a nice, relaxed, even race. That ended when I started to see runners who had hit the turn around and started to run back. It's a wonderful thing to be part of a running group; the encouragement during an out and back that a lot of friends are doing is awesome.
I tried to spot as many people as I could, cheering people on and being cheered. I missed a few, and sometimes names only sprung to my sugar deprived brain long after the people had passed me by. It happens.
When I hit the turn around, the mass of runners started to pass by, and I got enough encouragement to help me drop my mile pace about 15 seconds. Oops.
I hit the water station with the Gu, and walked long enough to take it and water without choking. Boston girl passed me, and for the next five miles or so was hundreds of feet ahead of me. I told myself I was okay with that, and kept on.
Right around mile nine my Garmin bleeped, but there wasn't a mile marker anywhere near me. I thought: Hm. Well. I hope the course isn't long. Or short. Or whatever. In other words, I was practicing denial.
The miles continued to pass. The discrepancy between my garmin and the course markings grew. And I chose to deal with it by ignoring it. I just wanted to finish strong.
About a mile away from the end, just as I was flagging, I saw a friend by the side lines with a camera; he shouted some encouragement as I hammed it up for the camera. Gave me a big boost, and I hoped I didn't make too much of a fool of myself. Forlorn hope, perhaps, but one I'll cling to till I see the evidence.
About half a mile from the end, I reeled in Boston girl and passed her by. I didn't sprint, so I didn't feel like a heel doing it, but I just maintained a nice, even acceleration. Till I hit the corner going into the finish line. I stepped up my acceleration a bit more, until a few hundred feet away, where I really stepped it up.
It felt smooth, easy, and comfortable. If I had tried to do it more than a quarter mile, I'm sure I'd be dying, but it felt really good to cut loose a little. About the only time I feel comfortable cutting loose is kicking into the finish; even during intervals or whatever, I hold myself back. At the end of a race... well, things are a little different.
I finished the race, got my medal, and stood around talking to all the people who finished prior to me, and then who came in afterward. Till the sweat and the wind threatened hypothermia. Realized I scored a PR. Realized that the course was perhaps a half mile long. Realized that the two in combination was really pretty cool.
Hung out for a bit, congratulating and commiserating as the situation warranted, then went off to the Daily Mile Meet Up. Great people, great time, and I even got to biology geek for a while! :)
Distance: 13.1 (Garmin 13.52) miles
Pace: 7:25 (Garmin 7:10) min/mile
25/168 AG, 116/1836 OA (Top 15% of my Age Group; top 7% Over All!)
Personal Record! (Down from 1:37:02, set in 2008)
Side note: if Garmin had the correct average pace, I would've crossed the finish line in 1:33:53. Which really kind of rocks. :)
Thanks to all who made it all the way to the end of this! I did name my blog appropriately, eh? ;)
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