Put me down for another first today. My first 30K race. This morning, I completed the Methodist Sugarland 30K. The weather was cool, the course was flat, but the concrete was HARD!!! I'm hurting pretty good right about now.
I've been proud of my accomplishments to this point but this one was really special. The funny thing is, going into this race, my expectations were not high and I was frankly a little ho-hum about the distance. I was more excited about seeing Steve B nail his race than I was about my own. But this one turned out in the end to be a race that I'll look back on and say that I really performed to my best potential. I know there will be better races in my future and I hope that I continue to get faster but for now, THIS WAS THE ONE!! The one where it really came together.
I got up around 4 am and had my breakfast, and started drinking water. On the way to the race, I stopped at my Starbuck's and got a coffee to enjoy en route. As I was coming out of the store, a guy pulled beside me. He had just gone through the drive-thru. I guess he saw my bib because he said, "I'm going there, too!!!" That was pretty cool.
I arrived in plenty time to talk trash with the Striders under the Strider tent. All the usual suspects, Bill, Steve, Santos, Stacy, Amber, Hillary, Barry, Lee, Miriam, Chip, Jennie, Andrew, and many more. It was a lot of fun and the energy was definitely there. After making my way over to the Marriott to "take care of some business", I did some stretching and started to make my way over to the start. After a beautiful rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner and a quick prayer, the horn sounded.
The course took us out about 3.5 miles to a loop in residential Sugar Land, then 3 times around, and about 2 miles back to First Colony mall and Town Square. To me, the 4.2 mile loop added a lot of energy to the race. There were so many runners and friends. Some were passing from behind, some were running the opposite direction on the other side of the median. AND, best of all, the Striders sponsored and manned the most awesome water station at the west end of the loop. It was great to see Jen, June, Erica, Matt, who place 14th overall in yesterday's Sunmart 25K, Barb, oh, who else was there? I can't remember. It was just the best to get to see my friends and the waterstop, and THREE times at that. Thanks for cheering us on Striders.
My goal for this race was to finish. Plain and simple. There was this little thing about at 4:15 time limit which averages out to a 13:40 pace over 18.6 miles. So, with trusty Garmin buckled on my wrist, I just set out to keep that pace. I don't know what the deal was on miles 2 and 3. I was pacing with the Garmin right at 13:40 but when I hit the mile marker, it was 13:56 and 13:50 respectively. The Garmin show 1.02 for both these miles. I suspect that I took the long way (the outside "lane") on some of the long curves through the neighborhood, basically running over by the cones in the middle of the street. So, my bad on the extra .04 there. No worries though.
Mile 1 - 13:39
Mile 2 - 13:56
Mile 3 - 13:50
By mile 4, I was "warmed up" and feeling really good. One new tactic that I employed was walking through the water stops. This is really a no-brainer and I should have been doing this all along. It really turned out well, I did not lose that much time and I left each stop knowing that I had completly drank all my water and feeling refreshed. The short 30 second or so walk really does me good. So, mile 4 was a little quicker AND included a potty break and a water stop. But like I said, I left that water stop feeling quite frisky and the next 4 miles show that.
Mile 4 - 13:59
Mile 5 - 13:27
Mile 6 - 13:38
Mile 7 - 13:39
Mile 8 - 13:24
At this point, I remember saying to myself, "Ok, just an easy 10-miler left, and some change." I'll admit I was tired but not so much that I had to let up at all. I was still running as well as I can run, strong and confident but still patient. About this time, I start playing this little game in my head. One side of me feels good and wants to knock out a couple of 13:10's or maybe a 13 minute mile. The other part of me respects the remaining distance and says, "Easy, big fella!" Good thing my rational side won that debate because I could have really blew it right there at about the halfway point.
Mile 9 - 13:53
15K (Halfway there) - 2:07:52, right on pace
Mile 10 - 13:35
I just beat my 10-mile race PR by about 6 minutes
At this point, I'm patient at the water stops. Each walk break leaves me feeling a little rejuvenated. So, I walk through a stop, resulting in ~14:00+ mile, then the next mile is in the mid-13's.
Mile 11 - 14:00
Mile 12 - 13:35
Mile 13 - 13:53
Mile 14 - 13:52
Mile 15 - 14:18
Somewhere in here, I bettered my 25K race PR. I don't know by exaclty how much because I didn't take a split at the 25K marker. Oh, well.
Mile 16 - 13:40
Mile 17 - 14:16
About a mile and a half to go but I'm hurtin'. Also, it's gotten really lonely out there. No more water stops. No more shout-outs, no more exciting loops with friends passing. At this point, it's just me on that last busy stretch of road. The runners had the right lane as the cars zoomed by. The good thing was that the Town Square was in sight, towering over the mall. I couldn't see the finish but I could see the buildings by the finish. My first and last moment of weakness came as I walked a good 1 minute and 15 seconds. Then, I just decided that I was goign to finish this thing running, even if it was 14:45.
Mile 18 - 15:35 (with the extended walk break)
After turning left into the mall complex, and making a right with just about .2 to go, I'm surprised to see my whole family, screaming and cheering for me there at the end. This is the first race my family has ever seen me finish and it was a total shocker. Fortunately, the course was cleared out so the little one and my oldest ran along with me out in the street and then on the sidewalk. A few seconds after spotting the fam, Coach Steeeve appears on the left side of the street to bring me in with some awesome words of encouragement. Steve said, "There's your fan club!" And sure enough, many friends waited around for me to finish and were hootin' and hollerin'. Bessie's smile shined through the whole group. Steve B was cheering. My bud, June cheered me on at the end of yet another race. James, Matt, Barb, Jess, Erica, it was just AWESOME!!!
Last .6 or so - 9:06
I hobbled over to shirt pickup, hung around a bit talking trash, loved on the fam, and made my way over to the pizza. Then, we went over to Baker Street pub for some lunch.
I don't know yet if my official time will be posted. I came in a few minutes over the 4:15 time limit. They were taking the structure of the finish line down when I crossed but the mats and computers were still on. Thanks to whoever made that happen. You know who you are and I appreciate it. Still, I don't see my time on the results so I'm not sure if it got uploaded to the results page in time. And, in all the excitement, I failed to hit stop at the finish. How about that. I diligently recorded ever single mile split and even hit the lap at the 15K mark but I didn't get the finish. As near as I can tell, after deleting all the points where I wondered around after finishing, my finishing time was 4:19:15!!! I'm very happy with that. Of all the warmup series races so far, that's the closest I've come to getting in under the cutoff.
Thanks and congrats to all the Striders who raced today and volunteered. Special congrats to 2006 Strider Most Improved Runner, Steve B who averaged an incredible 7:27 over the 30K race. Also, my hat's off to Bill who despite some back and hip problems and a lot of pain, turned in a gutsy 3:18:13 and Jessica, that was a distance and race PR for you, right? You were smokin' out there, girl. Nice race. I know there are many other notables and I will not try to name them all. Of course our own Brett Riley took overall winner today in what I believe is his first warmup series appearance. It looks like the Striders brought home some serious hardware.