I couldn't have asked for a better day yesterday. The sun was shining and the temperature was perfect (about 50 degrees). The best part - NO WIND! The race had about 235 runners and because it was the 24th year that it was being run, everything ran very smoothly (no pun intended).
I was very excited about the race all morning. I thought I did a pretty good job at keeping myself calm. I packed all my stuff up and headed to check-in about 45 minutes before the race. After getting my race number I went out for a bit of a warm-up run. I had on pants and a long sleeve shirt (over my shorts and T-shirt that I was going to wear for the actual race) and boy did I feel heavy. I was sort of nervous at that point because I was just warming up and my legs felt heavy and tired - not a good feeling! However, once I took off the extra clothing I felt 100% better.
A couple of minutes before the start of the race I headed over to the starting line. Not many of the other runners had headed over yet so I tried to figure out where a good starting place would be. Then the other runners came over and I found myself back in the middle of the pack. It wasn't a bad place to start, I was just aiming for a touch closer to the front. The "gun" sounded and we were off. I got hemmed in a bit but not too badly. I was able to weave my way out of the congestion and settled into a nice pace.
My goal was a 7:30 pace and at the beginning of the race I had settled into a pace at about 7:40. I was pleased with this pace especially at the beginning but I knew I needed to go a touch faster if I wanted to make my goal time - if my chest cold would let me. I just tried to maintain a constant pace during the middle section of the race. However, once I hit the turn around cone (which meant I had about 3 miles left in the race) I decided it was time to see what I had left. I was feeling pretty good and as I was approaching the cone I counted the women who past me on the way back and I was the 21st woman in the race. So, when I hit the turn-around cone, I decided to see if I could start picking off the women and move up in the standings. To be honest, I was amazed that I was that far up in the overall standings (I had no idea where I stood in my age group). So one by one I started setting my sights on the woman right in front of me. Slowly but surely I started moving up on them and passing them.
At this point, I looked at my watch and my pace was at about 7:15. I wasn't sure if I would be able to maintain that pace for the rest of the race but I sure was going to give it a try. I just concentrated on the woman in front of me and catching her. As I neared the end of the course (about 3/10ths of a mile left) I passed the woman who was in 16th place and could see the 15th place woman. I kept my pace going and was reeling her in but I didn't know if I had enough course left. As I made the last turn into the straightaway to the finish, I looked at the race clock. I saw that if I gave it one last push I would make my goal time so I put it into overdrive. I passed the woman in front of me and made my goal time! My official race time was 1:09:48 (6 seconds faster than my goal time) and my official pace was 7:31 (last year's pace was 8:25). I ran almost a minute faster per mile this year than I did last year!!!
Needless to say I was thrilled! My family was at the finish and I heard my kids cheering me on at the end. Then after I got across the line they came running up to me and gave me a hug. Definitely the best part to the whole event!! There was only one more goal to try and get - finishing in the top three of my age group. Obviously I wasn't in total control of this one but I had given it my all and I was hoping to walk away with a plaque. After waiting around for a while the awards ceremony finally started. I waited for them to get to my age group and then I heard it. I had placed 3rd in my age group! To give you an idea about how things can change from year to year, I had also placed 3rd in my age group last year and my time was much slower.
Now the really insane part to the entire day. The winner of the race finished in 46:28 the second place finisher ran it in 47:11 and the third place finisher ran it in 49:28. I can't imagine how frustrating it must be to run 9+ miles in under 50 minutes and only place third in the race! BTW, the winner's pace was 5:00/mile. Those times simply blow my mind!!!
Now that the race is over, I'm going to take it easy for a couple of days. Probably get out for some walks but nothing too strenuous. I want to get rid of this cold I have and then start into a more balanced program for a while. I'll probably be shooting for 3 days of lifting and 3 days of running. I'm not sure what my next goal will be but there is a local 1/2 marathon in March and I'm leaning toward trying to run in that this year. I've wanted to do it the past 2 years but have gotten sick and haven't been able to get my training in. We'll just have to wait and see.
Thanks for all the support and for taking the time to read my race report!