Yesterday I went to the local Road Runner Sports store to get my packet. I honestly thought this was a small race, but RRS was packed with people. We got a 10% off discount for anything we bought that day (20% if you are a member). That was my first sign this might be a bigger race than I anticipated. The salespeople in the store were prepared for us and everything with packet pick-up went smoothly.
My second clue that it was a big race was all the good swag! In my book, anything outside the norm of a technical T-shirt is good stuff. Packets included a bag filled with useful throw-aways, a running hat, throw-away gloves, and a bracelet/wrist-band with the name of the race on it (not pictured). All very useful items!
Although temperatures yesterday afternoon were in the mid-50s and perfect for shorts, this morning was different. Oh-and did I mention I had to set my clock ahead last night so when I set my alarm for 6:30, it was really like 5:30? To compensate, I went to sleep at 10:30 (after setting the clocks), way before I normally would. So while I was planning to get up at 6:30, my body wanted to be up at 4:45, really 3:45 before the clock change! I think I went to sleep too early. I took the dog for a walk around 7 and it was COLD out there.
I put on a couple extra layers and left by 8:20 to jog down to the park. I thought it was 1.5 miles away, but it was actually 2.25. (Maybe a bit more of a warm-up than I needed). I got there and had to run to drop off my bag and get in the porta-potty lines. Then Brennan found me! Perfect timing.
By 8:57 (3 minutes before race start):
Bag check = Check
Porta-potties = Check
Find Brennan = Check
Time to head to the start line. The music was loud and the crowds were big. I was very impressed and had totally underestimated this race. The national anthem was sung and we off. The length of the park is about 5 miles long, so we basically ran up and down the length 2.5 times. It was fun to see the leading pack way ahead of the rest of the crowd. And Brennan passed me a few times (she's FAST!), which was fun. When I had one loop to go, the leaders were just coming in behind me, so I got to hear the crowd cheer for them (also a bit tempting to quit).
By the first half, I was tired. My quads were burning. I was blaming it on too much too fast after the marathon, but by the second half, I was OK. I had also felt like I had kind of stopped racing by that point and just wanted to finish and not care about time. I definitely slowed by the last few miles, but I still finished in sub 1:50, as I hoped. My half marathon PR is 1:49 and all I wanted for this race was to get close to that. I surprised myself to meet that goal, but was I ever happy to cross that finish line.
Although the sun was out and it was nice, I started shivering. The wind in one direction was pretty intense and my hands were cold most of the race. I found Brennan (speedy girl finished way ahead of me!) and we got water, bananas, pretzels, warm chicken broth (a definite plus after a cold race!) and then found the massage booth. Why yes, we would like free post-race massages!
If you look at my splits, you will notice I have a hard time keeping a steady pace. First mile was the fastest, last mile was the slowest. I have got to work on that whole pacing thing!
Mile 1 8:01
Mile 2 8:15
Mile 3 8:11
Mile 4 8:33
Mile 5 8:27
Mile 6 8:29
Mile 7 8:31
Mile 8 8:25
Mile 9 9:04
Mile 10 8:28
Mile 11 8:58
Mile 12 9:26
(I am still waiting for official results to post. I timed myself at 1:49:16, but I think my official time was closer to 1:49:30).
I had only 2 miles above the 9 minute pace, which is not bad. Unfortunately, they were at the end. At that point, I felt like I was doing 10:30 minute miles, so I guess it was better than I thought. Plus, with the 2.25 warm-up I did a solid 15 miles today. Not bad.
If you could not tell, I loved everything about this race: the swag, the organization, the volunteer support was amazing, the weather was sunny, and the course wasn't too bad. Admittedly, going around the park 2.5 times was a bit of a mental challenge because it seemed so easy to just give up (not that I ever DNF, but the thought always crosses my mind especially when I run past and see super-speedy runners are done). But you knew the entire time what to expect. And, as Brennan pointed out, it was nice that we were not really on any roads and the race directors had to pay little for police support in traffic changes, so more money would go to charity. I hope schools get more money to support their music programs!