I feel like I am behind on a lot these days, but better late than never! Need to get this typed up now before pacing the Dayton Air Force Half Marathon on Saturday and Akron full Marathon next Saturday! 1:40 group in Dayton and 3:40 group in Akron! Pace Team details here: http://www.marathonpacing.com/
On to the report.
I don't know why but I got it in my head that I needed to crush this half. A little birdie suggested I should try to hold the same pace as perfect 10 and sure enough Tuesday coach announced that was the goal. My legs have not been feeling perky and as posted here tempos haven't been going so well the past few weeks, but I was optimistic since we were backing off the weeks mileage and cutting out the tempo that I'd be relatively fresh on Sunday.
Race morning dawned and weather was perfect. Nice and cool. I've never run this race but the course has changed from the past anyways. I drove it and it seemed pretty mild other than a few false flats and a lot of winding. It was a two loop course with one decent hill you did twice and one mild roller. Other than the course being open to traffic I was a fan, though I would prefer one large loop. It was hard to run the tangents with all the winding and having to avoid the occasional car, but it was shaded and mostly flat.
I warmed up with my SERC buddies and changed into my flats in time to stop at the bathroom twice before heading to the start, nervous much? I lined up right at the start line since this was not a chip race. Said hi to BW and told her to get her butt up at the line too.
Goal was 6:30 pace and I went out right on pace. I picked up the new Garmin 310 XT on Saturday and decided to try it out during the race. I didn't look at it except to see if my total time was on at the mile markers, but I like to have the data post race. It worked pretty well and was right on for the first 5 miles. After that I got a bit sloppy on the tangents because I ended up with a little extra mileage. Not too surprising, any race I have ever run that is legit the Garmin is always longer. The ones that are short you need to worry about!
I went out at what felt doable and tried to ease into the pace but be aggressive if that makes sense. There were about 8-10 guys that took off then SG was in front of me and 3 other runners behind him. I worked on following SG and trying to stay relaxed, I slowly passed two young guys and just worked to try and keep the gap between SG and myself small. He had mentioned before the race he would be around my pace (Yeah Right!). After mile 2 I was caught by a group of three guys. We all ran together for a few miles when one of the guys asks if we are planning to negative split the race. I said no I was aiming for even pacing. Then he took off up the mild roller and we watched as he screamed past the two guys up ahead of us. Guess he had a lot left for the second half because I never saw him again!
I lost some time on the hill around mile 6 and one of the guys fell behind us. I tried to stay with KM and we both were making an effort to get back on the pace. Around the hill Ultra friend GR passed me, I didn't recognize him at first and asked him if he had brought any women along with him, he said nope, though they were all trying to stay with him ;) He had a near miss with a car at the next intersection that made me a bit nervous. (He went on to have a great race, nice to see him getting speedy on the roads!)
By mile 8 I was behind the overall time at least 30 seconds and was thinking my prospects weren't very good. Coach was there with some encouragement. I just tried to tell myself to relax and stick to KM. I lost him at the next water stop and my gait was starting to get off. I couldn't get comfortable. My left hamstring has been sore and it was speaking up a little bit and I started to berate myself a little for not trying harder to stay with KM. I know my body though and I am fairly confident I couldn't have picked it up any.
Around mile 10.5 one of the guys who had fallen back caught back up to me. He passed and then decided he would rather pull me along with him. He did his best to motivate me to do a better job at the tangents and pick up the pace. I have seen him at races before and he just seems like an all around friendly guy. I stayed with him through mile 12 but couldn't hold on after the last aid station.
Two more guys caught me just before the hill and I again asked if they had any women with them. At this point I knew the goal time was out the window so I was hoping to at least hold onto the lead, but was sure BW was going to eat me up before the finish line, talk about paranoid. They said nope and congratulated me on the win, I wasn't counting my eggs yet though! The one guy joked that he hadn't been gender tested yet. Good to have some humor in the last mile.
I chugged up the hill getting ready to turn on whatever kick I had left to try and at least come in 1:26 something. Coach was screaming at 200 to go. Of course this was on a gravel path and then we turn to finish on grass. I didn't want to bite it but upped the effort. Saw the clock and knew it would be tight to clinch a one minute PR over Cleveland and made it just in time at 1:26:52.
Had a bit of a hacking fit at the end that was killer and my stomach was off for the rest of the day (and is still off, grr). I was happy with the effort, glad to clinch a win, but disappointed I didn't have a little more oomph in me. Looking at the times afterwards I realized that this really isn't too much out of line with my Perfect 10 time and given I felt a lot better going into Perfect 10 I am happy I was able to crank out a similar performance.
This race was a bit mentally tough for me and physically it was rough. I guess they all can't feel good! I am used to feeling a bit better the longer I go, so having this feel more like a 5 mile effort than a 13.1 mile effort was a little disappointing! I am sure being by myself most of the race and never seeing another female didn't help, but I don't think I could have run much better on the day either way. The good news is this time still lines me up for a significant marathon PR if my fitness stays the same, and hopefully with a good taper I will be feeling a lot fresher than I did on Sunday!
Link to my Garmin splits, after mile 5 they didn't jive with the course, so tack on a little to each mile after 5 and that should be about right for 6:38 pace average.
On a mental note I think I was a little too serious leading into this race, built up my expectations a bit too much. Perfect 10 I was definitely more relaxed about the goal and just looking to run a good time. I am thinking I need to take the pressure off for Columbus and just go with the flow. I run a lot better when I think about it a little less and enjoy it a little more!