OK, I didn't win the London Marathon (which is what I believe she is winning in the above picture) but I did win my age group! I couldn't believe it!! And to top it all off I was actually the 2nd woman to finish the entire race (31st overall finisher). The woman who won the race is also a sponsored runner which makes it that much more satisfying!!
It was a beautiful day and like always I was there really early (about 45 minutes before the race). Getting there that early is a good thing and a bad thing - it gives me plenty of time to take care of things like registration, the bathroom, getting all my race gear on, the bathroom and yet again, the bathroom. The bad part is that I don't really like to wait around. Once I'm ready, I want the thing to start - how rude of them to not adhere to MY schedule (LOL)! I think the official temperature at race time was about 66 degrees and boy was the sun shining. You couldn't have asked for a nicer day!
The course was a rolling hill course with a majority of the beginning going downhill and then, of course, the majority of the end was uphill. I started out right behind a group of women that seemed to be holding a pretty nice pace although it was significantly faster than my originally intended pace of between 8:15 and 8:30. But being the competitor that I am I decided to stick with them at least for the first half of the race (remember, it was mostly downhill). I felt good and just went with it. I tried hard not to look at my Forerunner too much because I didn't want to start to panic - I knew it was fast but I figured, as long as I felt reasonably fresh I was going to go for it!
Around mile 2 the group of woman started to break up and that was when I decided to just push ahead. Not too long after that, I found myself running alone. I had left most of them behind and started using a technique I use in every race I run. I pick a person in front of me (preferably a woman) and try to reel her/him in. Once I catch and pass that person I pick another person to chase down and continue that until the end of the race. For me at least, it helps the miles and the pain go faster. You have that immediate goal right in front of you and you can tell if you are getting closer to it or falling behind - it is a great motivator for me during a race!
Then at about the 5K mark I could really feel the fatigue start to set in. At that point, the course had started to move mostly uphill and was getting pretty difficult. I ran with a man for a little bit and confessed to him (after he had commented that I had a nice pace going) that it was significantly faster than I was used to and I wasn't sure if I would be able to maintain it. As I started to pull away, I wished him a good race and he told me to keep the pace going. It wasn't much but it was really nice to hear that positive support from a fellow runner. One of my pet peeves is when runners don't support each other on the road. I'm all for doing your best and striving to win but not at the expense of those around me - but I digress.
Once I got to the 5 mile mark, I knew I was going to make it. My pace might slow in that last mile but there was no doubt that I was going to have a great time at the end of the day. Luckily for me there were still a few women right in my sites and I set off to catch them! One by one I picked them off. I passed the last one at the 6 mile mark. We turned the corner and I knew that the finish line was only 2/10ths of a mile up the hill (yes the finish was totally uphill!!). From somewhere deep inside, I pushed the pace up just a notch all the way to the finish line. My husband and 2 kids where there to meet me! That was the BEST part!!! As my husband walked toward me he held up 2 fingers and told me I was second. I was like cool, 2nd in my age group is awesome and was told me no - you are the 2nd woman to cross the finish! I could believe it! At that point, I looked at my Forerunner and it gave me a finish time of 47:29 and a pace of 7:32 I almost fell over right there but my kids just had to show me what they could do on the playground - it was a perfect ending!
I had intended to use this race as a challenging training run so that I could gauge where my fitness level is. Today has passed my wildest dreams! I've always known that I was a good runner and the more I compete in races the more I wonder just how far I can push myself. This year, I want to run more consistently and compete in more races than in previous years. I am also hoping to run in my first marathon. Hopefully this is the first step toward a really great year of running!
Congrats to Julie Berg who just completed the McNaughton 100 in under 28 hours 30 minutes and took first place. I don't think I'll ever run that far at one time. Every one who runs in those races (whether they are able to finish or not) are amazing! Way to go Julie!!!
Off to play with the kids! Have a blessed evening - I know I will!