This is it. The big race. The culmination of 5-plus months of training. Twenty or so minutes to lay it on the line and not screw up. Optimistic much, Michelle? I was actually feeling really good about this race. I had a great 10K the week before and felt that my goal of running under 21 minutes was well within my grasp, but anything can happen out on the course.
Thanks to Body Pump, I had been listening to a techno cover of Lady Gaga’s “Edge of Glory” by some group called Red Beans and Rice on the way to the race. Not a bad song to run to, though, so I was resigned to having it stuck in my head. I got my number, had a Chocolate Cherry Clif Shot, and headed out for my warm-up miles. I passed one of the park bathrooms on my run and decided to duck in. It was far enough away from the start that there weren’t any lines. On the way back, I used it again. Nerves, I guess.
The course is a flat rectangle around a local park and attracts local PR seekers and even some out-of-state talent. As we lined up, the announcer gave us 35-39 year old females good news: the blazing fast former Olympic Trials marathon runner Paula just had just aged up. I started near the front and after some weaving through people was off at a good clip. I could see speedy masters runners Michelle H. and Merry ahead, and figured if I stayed near them, I’d be doing well. They had both run well under 21 minutes the year before. I hit the first mile at 6:49 and felt good.
In the second mile, I caught up with Michelle H. who was trying to pace a friend to a sub-21. I ended up passing them and enjoyed it, full well knowing that I’ll probably never pass her again. I ended up passing Stu and Merry as well. Stu is still coming back from injury and Merry as having one of those off days that all runners get from time to time. I did a quick swig-and-splash at the water station. The mile 2 split was 6:39.
I was still feeling good, but I knew that I was getting close to that point where I wouldn’t be. A few friends were cheering on the side of the road, which is always nice. I was running hard, but I felt like I could run harder, but at the same time, I just couldn’t. Does that make any sense? Edge of Glory was still in my head, along some rotating mantras. Choose it, Kick it, No mercy! Sometimes in races I need to remind myself that this is what all the training has been leading up to and I had better not waste the opportunity. I sped up toward the end. Hang on, the finish line is in sight. All of a sudden, I heard loud footsteps behind me, and I picked up my pace some more. I fought hard to stay ahead, but was overtaken at the last second. A little disappointing, but my official time was 20:43, well under 21 and a big improvement from the 21:25 PR I had set at this race last year.
After the race, a guy who had read my Tailwinds article introduced himself which was pretty cool. My coach had also come down from Phoenix to watch his brother race, so I got to chat with him as well. I also have to give a shout-out to my amazing friend Keith who ran a PR of 18:21 the weekend after a double marathon. I won’t say how old is is, but let’s just say his twenties are in the rear view mirror. I ended up getting first in my age group and an insulated coffee tumbler.
Race Data: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/311700831