So, the last time I did this race it was two years ago and the only real preparation I had was one really crappy long run. I figured that I would definitely be able to do better this time and I really wanted to do a slightly longer race without taking on a half-marathon. Plus, I have fond memories of this race, despite never having a particularly good showing. Before I realized that Daylight Savings Time would be starting the night before the race, I was also looking forward to not having to get up so damn early since we could walk to the start from the hotel. So much for that plan!
Even with the earlier wake up time, we still had plenty of time to grab coffee, get changed and have a leisurely walk down to the start line. There were crazy amounts of people around:
And some very special fashion choices:
A quick self portrait of M & I:
and then a better one, taken by M:
Then it was time for me to line up and M to negotiate the maze of lining up 15k-ers and finishing 5k-ers, not an easy feat! After the most depressing hymn sung by a local high school choir and a total cluster at the start line when they had to have the 5k-ers finishing chute overlap the start line of the 15k because an emergency vehicle needed to be on the 5k course. This led to them sending us off by pace group, which resulted in a lot of stop/starting. The only nice result of all of that confusion was that this was the first race I’ve ever done where I could run right from the start line, which was very nice. It was very hard, but I tried to ignore the legions of runners passing me and take the first mile very conservatively. (Thank you, Jon Cane for drilling this into my head… )
Pacing is really important in this race – the first mile has a long gradual uphill, followed by four miles of rolling hills of varying amounts of steepness. Because my other goal for the race was to not take any walk breaks unless absolutely necessary, I wanted to pace the first third very conservatively, hang tough for the middle third and then run as fast as I could for the last third.
I did really well the first two thirds, taking it nice and easy and not letting the hills take too much energy. Meanwhile, all around me were people going balls out and sprinting up the hills. It was crazy! And I’m in the 9-10 min/mile pace group, so it’s not like it’s a lot of faster runners who are having to weave through the ranks. In sharp contrast to last time, I was part of a pack for the whole race, which was weird and nice at the same time.
Finally, I saw the turn that brought us back toward town, signaling the start of the downhill section. It was time to kick it up a notch! I let my legs relax and picked up the pace. I got to pass tons of the people who flew past me at the beginning or on the hills, which was very enjoyable. I felt really good until mile 8, then still pretty good until mile 9 and then I was really ready to be done. The last .3 was me just trying not to think about the things that hurt and once I could see the finish line, I just locked eyes on it and ran as hard as I could. It hurt, but I figured the faster I went, the sooner it would be over. My final time was 1:42:28, exactly 11 minute mile pace, which is a full minute per mile faster than last time. That made me very happy. It’s always nice to see improvement.
After the race, I met up with M and we headed back to the hotel for a quick ice bath/shower and to checkout. M was nice enough to snap a few pics of me next to my favorite mannequins:
Afterward, we headed to Jam for breakfast. The food was delicious, but the ridiculously long wait was not. Then it was time to hit the road back home. We both agreed that while the weekend was fun, it was nice to be back home.