What a glorious, beautiful morning for a race. I had three goals for the race. My oh-my-goodness-I-must-be-dreaming goal was a 2:05 or 12:30 pace. My second goal was to run a 130 minutes, 13:00 pace for the math impaired. :) My last fallback goal was a 10 minute PR. That's right, 10 minutes. Heck, I ran a 5 minute PR during a training run last weekend.
Friday afternoon found me in the barber's chair talking race strategy with coach Matt. We talked about the importance of having a plan going into a race. Of course, the extent of my race plans to date has been "I'm gonna get started and see how I feel after a mile or two..." That's not a plan. So, the plan today that we came up with was to warm up for mile one and get into my goal marathon pace which is 13:20. I was going to hold that pace through mile five. Then for the next 4 miles, the plan was to work my way down towards 12:30 and then just let it all hang out for mile 10.
Mile 1 - 13:23
I started out just right. I chatted with James for a couple hundred yards. We caught up on things and he was off. There were very few people behind me but hey, that's ok.
Mile 2 - 13:17
Mile 3 - 13:21
Mile 4 - 13:19
I walked through the mile 4 water stop but Joltin Joe ran with me for about a half mile and got me back on pace quickly.Mile 5 - 13:12
I felt strong through 5 miles. Really strong!!! I felt like I had just walked 5 miles. I was ready to start cranking it down. I figured the best way to start doing that was to pick out a person ahead and just work on passing him. Then, pick out another person and pass her. So, that's what I did. I passed several people during mile 6 and fixed my sights on a girl in a pink shirt about a minute ahead of me.
Mile 6 - 12:55
I felt really good going across the bridge and kicked it up a notch for the race photographer before turning onto Space Center Blvd. Pink shirt girl was just ahead.
Mile 7 - 12:31
After the turn onto Space Center Blvd. and going into mile 8, I was right where I wanted to be. I had executed the plan flawlessly and was on track for a 2:10 or better. Just about the time I caught pink shirt girl (actually, I passed her), I just sort of lost it. The sun was beating down pretty hard and there was no breeze to speak of. No, those are just silly excuses!!! The fact is I'm just not tough in these situations, out by myself, on a loooooong stretch of road, starting to fatigue. Just when the going gets a little tough, I just don't know where to reach to find that extra umph!!!
Mile 8 - 13:27
By this time, I was walking quite a bit. But when I was running, I felt like I was still moving at a pretty good clip but I just couldn't hold it, or wouldn't hold it. I took a Gu and walked through the water stop at mile 8, thinking, "OK, you can do ANYTHING for 2 miles. So, I took off. Then I hit the stink!!! Oh my goodness. That smell going over that bridge made the bat bridge at Waugh smell like a rose garden. I couldn't breathe and I walked through the funk.
Mile 9 - 13:51
Mile 9 was the slowest and most disappointing. I walked a lot. Then, from somewhere inside, I started to think about my fallback goal or 2:12:53, a 10-minute PR. I did some calculating and realized it was still possible. With 800m to go, I beared down and said, "I ain't walking, no matter what." I rounded the final turn and saw Pony. She ran me in the last 400m or so and I'll tell you what, if it weren't for her, I don't think I would have finished that last bit as strong as I did.
Mile 10 - 13:02
So, I had a little redemption there at the end and crossed the finish at 2:12:34, a 10:19 PR.
The race today was bittersweet for me. I know with just an ounce of toughness I could have broken 2:10. Still, I did have a plan and I think it was realistic and for a good part of the race, I was executing. This race puts me well off of my marathon goal. Obviously, my training at the longer distances is lacking. I've gotta get with it.
The post-race activites were a blast. It was such a beautiful morning and it was so nice sitting around the tent in the morning breeze visiting with the Striders. On the Run put on a first-class event. The mile markers were right on. The water stops were well services. Thanks to OTR for a memorable race.