Mill Creek Classic 2010 Race Report
Went into this race with high expectations and no excuses since weather was absolutely perfect. mid 30s and sunshine, only a bit of snow during a couple miles. I ran in shorts, singlet, arm warmers, and throw away gloves and only got chilly for a few miles, had to strip the head band almost immediately.
Goal for the race was to run hard up the hills and try for 6:29 pace. Everyone I talked to before this race said that was aggressive, but I didn't care that was the time I wanted so I was going to go for it. Figured I would try to run that pace for 10 miles and if I blew up, oh well. This race is mostly a key workout for Boston, but it is always nice to hit certain times to get that for sure 100% indicator that you are where you want to be. On top of the time goals I decided as long as the top women were running a pace reasonably close to my goal pace I would try to stick to them like glue.
Per the norm we carpooled out to Youngstown for this. I had cereal, a banana, and oj 3 hours before the race, coffee and a small bit of brown rice 2 hours before on the way. It's always nice to be able to relax on the way and this year NC tagged along so it really felt like we were back in college, loaded up for a meet.
Got to the race with about an hour to spare and hit the restrooms then picked up bibs. Got in about a 2 mile warm up with NC easy, wasn't feeling too perky, but hamstrings weren't barking which was a good sign the previous days ice baths had paid off. Changed shoes and got in a few striders up the finishing hill. Had a photographer shooting photos of me, so I must have looked speedy. EM told him I would be first but I assured him I would be happy to be top 4 given who was at the race. I should have seen what paper he wrote for because it turns out there weren't any finishing photos of me, so I would have liked to get one of these photos of me looking fresh!
Said hellos to a few new racing friends and lined up at the start. Before we knew it we were off and I eased into pace alongside NC and SAS (another VR runner). Pace felt comfortable and we were even a bit chatty but in retrospect I probably should have done my own thing and eased into the race a bit slower. First downhill mile flew by in 6:09 and the second including quite a bit of uphill was 6:34. Mile 3 we hit some more downhill and I was still near NC and SAS for another 6:09. Terrain flattens out here for about a half mile and NC was still pushing 6:15s or faster so I decided to ease back a hair.
The first monster hill comes during mile 3 to 4 and I focused on not letting SAS pull away from me and really working the hill. From here on out I really didn't pay too much attention to my splits. I focused on trying to eat up the ground and feel smooth. This mile was surprisingly sub 7 in 6:52. The next set of miles you twist and turn back and forth through a series of false flats. I was never right with anyone but I kept SAS in my sights and just tried to focus on form. I had miles where I felt stellar and like I was really cruising and then miles were I felt like the effort was way too high. Ironically the next four miles were all pretty steady pace wise in 6:44, 6:38, 6:38, 6:38.
I was struggling to keep my effort up as we ran around the bottom of the park near the river, I just couldn't get that perky feeling back when I got caught by a guy moving up in the pack. He asked my name and asked if I wanted to catch up to SAS, I responded that I sure did, and he pulled me for the next half mile or so and got me out of my slow groove (6:54), alas then we hit the second monster hill and I was just not up to the task of chugging along at his pace. I was super grateful for the boost he gave me though and once I crested the hill I dug in and upped the effort (6:57).
The next few miles I would work on really trying to eat up ground, and caught a few guys, but every time I got the pace back where I wanted it I would hit an uphill and give everything back plus more (6:50). Around my 11 SF caught me (on a training run! girl is sick fast!) and gave me some encouragement as we careened down Bear hill. I would have liked to have used her to get going, but the legs just wouldn't pick it up. My stride felt smooth, but I just had no juice (6:48). Even with the boost of seeing my friends coming the other way and cheering I couldn't get back into a groove pace wise.
Then the nail was put in the coffin the last mile with a short series of rollers that just killed me. (7:19) I caught a few runners here who were in a bad place but just couldn't make up any ground on SAS. Last finishing hill SG was cheering for me to go, and I told myself to dig in and move but still only came up with 7 minute pace to close out at 1:28:17 and 4th female overall.
Lungs were burning at the finish and I was tired, but my legs actually felt pretty good. We headed out for an easy cool down and had fun cheering on friends and chatting marathon prospects with NC.
I was super pleased with the effort I put forth on the course, I don't think I could have worked any harder. My heart rate was insanely high and I never let up even though I was not in direct contact with any other runners for much of the race. Seeing as NC and SAS both have half PRs 3-4 minutes faster than me and neither ran the goal time I had set for myself, I was probably dreaming a little bit on the goal time :) I know I probably could have run a bit faster and had more in the tank at the end if I had gone out at 6:30 like I intended instead of 6:09 but I was proud of my effort and super stoked about how good I felt post race. Base training is paying off!
There was one mile where my mind started to drift and I had to remind myself to focus on myself and not other outside issues. I'll have to work on focus before Boston. I want to be able to coast for the first 13 but the second half of the race I definitely don't want my mind (and the pace!) drifting.
Super stoked for my training buddy NC winning her third half marathon and I think she has been convinced to get on the marathon training board, which would be ideal so I will have someone to work with towards some of my more aggressive marathon goals.
SERC runners as usual kicked butt and took names. Especially proud of FD coming back so quickly from PE. The man is a machine. Always an honor to roll to a race with this crowd! And the Vertical Runner gals didn't do too shabby coming in 3rd and 4th. Next time NC better watch out (she runs for Second Sole) because VR is hungry for a win! ;)