What a day! For the first time, I actually ran this race knowing other people in the race. I actually went to the race with Helenann (one of my early morning running buddies) and her son Shane. Shane is 15 and just started running cross country this year. He is doing great! It was a lot of fun to actually have people to pal around with before and after the race!
It was a very warm day today. It was 80 degrees when the race started at 8:30 this morning and just got hotter as the day went on. In contrast, the temperature at last years start was 50 degrees.
The gun went off and we all moved forward with the pack. I was aiming at 8 minute miles or about 1:14:00 for the race. As we moved forward we settled into a pace of about 8:30 which was a touch slower than I wanted but faster than Helenann and Shane were expecting to go. They knew that I was shooting for a faster time so at about the 2 mile marker, I started to pick it up a bit. I started to put a bit of distance between myself, Helenann and Shane. I found out after the race, that Shane started to pick it up at about mile 3.
It was a hard race because of the heat but I felt good for most of the race. One portion of the race that consists of a couple of loops and then the second section is an out and back. The loops make up about 3 miles of the race and the out and back make up the other 6.3 miles. The out and back section is pretty hard because there isn't much shade and you are running near the river for a large portion of it. The sun was really hitting off the water which made it feel even hotter. I started to really feel it shortly after the turn around point. However, there was a great pick me up when I saw just how well Shane and Helenann were doing. Shane was making great progress and closing the gap between the two of us!
I really started using my pick-off technique (I pick someone in front of me - preferably women - and try to catch them). It was working really well and I was moving up in the field. The was one man that really didn't want me to pass him. Every time I would pull up even with him he would put on a bit of a surge so that he was a stride or two in front of me. I was happy with my pace so I just tried to maintain my pace. After a few minutes, I was actually able to get past him and stay in front of him for the rest of the race.
I kept a pretty steady pace throughout the race. My slowest split was in mile 2 which clocked in at 8:16/mile and my fastest split was in mile 8 which clocked in at 6:25/mile. No wonder I thought I was going to die during that last 1.3 miles! I need to say thank you to a man named Ed Maher, I don't know him but he really helped me get through those last 2 miles or so. The heat was really starting to take it's toll on me but I just kept Ed right in front of me and it got me through to the end. I was able to enter the finishing gait a second or 2 in front of him but I don't know if I would have made it the entire distance without his help!
As Ed and I rounded that last turn, I looked up and saw that the clock was in the 1:13s so I tried to put on one last push and was able to finish the race in 1:13:22 which breaks down into a pace of about 7:45m/m and 3rd in my age group. Considering how hot it was, I'm absolutely thrilled with the time! Shane ended up with a time of 1:13:32 (first in his age group) and Helenann finished 1:21:04 (4th in her age group). Overall an excellent day for all of us!
The really funny part is that over the past 3 years I have finished 3rd in my age group every year but by average paces have been 8:25m/m; 7:30m/m and 7:45m/m respectively. I just find it funny that my times have been pretty different each year but that I've still finished third each year. Hopefully next year I will be able to move up a place or two (I'll move up an age group so I become the young one on the block)!
Here's to next year! Keep on runnin'!!