HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Well, the first event of the new year is over, and I made all my goals and then some! My finish time was 46:52:30, 6/11 in AG, 11:43 pace. My goals were: to not walk; to not have to walk; and to finish in 50 min. or less. All were reached. I'm sure I've done this race faster in the past, but it is a slightly new course, with 5 hills instead of the usual 3, with one major, make-you-want-to-puke hill in the middle, and it is truly my first effort at this distance in months.
Don ran with me. He agreed a few days ago to run with me, at what I said was going to be "my pace" and not what he wanted me to run. I figured it would be a good time for him to run my pace since he had just run a 50k+ the other day and would be tired. He figured "4 x 12 min.?" At least, I said. Thus, figuring on a 50 min. or close finish. He said he was okay with that. I told him he didn't have to torture himself, but he said he would do it.
I was also hoping the day would be dry and not too cold, since it had rained hard all the day and night before. As luck would have it for once, it was about 38 degrees, windy, but dry. In fact, I just barely got done running and it started a misty rain, so all in all, the weather was some of the best ever for this race.
I saw a lot of the usual friends and running or triathlete acquaintances, but most of them were up ahead at the start, which I missed by walking to the start, forgetting it wasn't a chip start. Oh well, I didn't want to waste any of the run I had in me running almost a mile to the start. (And what's up with that anyway?? Some new course!)
We started in back then, behind the walkers, so it was pretty obvious I would be passing people at this point. I just kept it easy. A few minutes into the run, someone called out my name. It was Sarah from work. We ran a minute or so together, and then she dropped back. I figured at any point she would pass me, but surprisingly, she never did.
The first hill wasn't too bad, but I remembered all the other times I had run this route, particularly last year at a triathlon, and even though this is at the beginning, I was usually reduced to a walk. I was happy to get through this with no major increase in breathing.
The first mile was around 11:15, and considering I was at least 200 yards from the start when the gun went off, I figured I wasn't doing too badly. Don kept looking at me, and I knew he was almost at a shuffling pace, but wasn't complaining. We were close to the next hill, and again we were reminded of other races in years past, when that hill had been so ice covered we could barely get traction going up. Just wet this year. I actually passed a few people here, but my goal today wasn't to try to pass anyone in particular, just keep moving forward.
This was a steep, long hill but on the other side was a long, gradual down grade. Even still, the second mile, which seemed to take forever to reach, was around 12 minutes. It was here that Don asked me what the splits were. Oh yeah, like I keep track of that stuff! (I do, but in my head.) I don't know how to work the watch. You mean after all this time...? Here, let me show you. Not now, and I brushed him away. I just remember them. He laughed at my inability to work the split feature on the watch, that was just like his. You probably can't see that stuff anyway. You're right.
Okay, enough talking. Another hill was coming up. So far so good, and I passed a woman and her running partner here. Woo hoo. I'm not going to get too excited about this. We're only halfway! Got up that hill and then it was a gentle down grade again, around a corner, and then the major hill was ahead. Just put your head down, pump those arms. Don't look at the top. That was Don saying that. Yeah, yeah. I've been up this hill dozens of times. I just need to keep from puking.
Libby and Amy were at the top. Don stopped for a New Year's greeting and hug, but I just waved and kept going. No way could I stop here! We were approaching mile 3 and I was glad to be finally getting past the halfway point. That hill took a lot out of me, and here I was passed again by people I had passed in mile 2. Don't let it bother you, just keep going.
I was surprised at how much easier it was running with someone alongside me, even though we weren't talking much, and he was actually a little ahead. But it kept me going, not thinking of quitting, and made it easier to focus on just finishing. I truly did not feel like I had to stop at any point, so that was a major accomplishment. I know my miles were not even, but I was mainly pleased with the effort.
At about 3/4 mile from the finish, Don starts saying, when you get around that last corner, start picking off these people. No, I don't think I'll do that today! I just need to finish first before my race strategy takes hold. And no matter how hard I tried to catch people in front of me anyway, they were doing the same thing, so I wasn't making any progress for the effort. I did recover enough finally to pick it up in the last 100 yard stretch to the finish, especially when I saw the clock still in the 46 min. range. I wanted to get in then under 47, and I barely squeaked by. Sarah was right behind me. We talked briefly, then I went to look for Don, who had pulled off at the last minute and was chatting with all his friends watching the race (most of whom had also run the 50k+ race two days before). At about this time, it started raining lightly, so it was a good time to head to Starbucks, get our coffees, and head home.