Thank you so much for the comments left yesterday - so nice! Now, if you can stomach it, here is the lengthy, very complete race report.
As I reported earlier I woke up to SNOW!!!
I ate a toasted bagel with butter around 7:30, had some coffee and some water. The water started running right through me so I sort of slowed down on it as I didn't want to have to pee every 5 minutes. Jen and Zach arrived at about 8:35 to pick me up and head to the Couv!
Race Site Prep:
On the ride over I chugged an Espresso Gu - with 2x caffeine! It was hard to leave the warm warm car once we arrived, but we had to pick up our numbers and get registered. I ordered a shirt too which is surprisingly awesome - although the size medium looks pretty small. Hopefully it fits. Once we pinned on our numbers we decided to go back to the car. I re-arranged my stuff so that I was only carrying what I wanted during the race and left to warm up a bit. I really didn't do too much to warm up, definitely not the long 15 minute run that I had planned to. My HR was already high in the 90s and my adrenaline was pumping. I jogged around for about 5 minutes, did some leg swings, and stretched a bunch. I used the porta john twice and hoped that I'd squeezed myself DRY for the rest of the race. Who wants to stop to pee during a race?? I met back up with Jen and Zach at the starting line.
Before I continue I must state what I had developed as my racing strategy. Having this in place was extremely helpful to making the goal. I have never really done this before because I've always been pretty laissez faire about racing. Not to mention that I don't race often! And most of the things I've choen to do are one-and-done type deals. When I ran the Chicago marathon I just wanted to complete it - never anticipating doing one again. The Alcatraz swim was once in a lifetime too and all I wanted to do in that race was to not get eaten by a shark or succumb to hypothermia. All those races required no strategy but mental strength to get through. Which is kinda wishy-washy.
Back to the point. My real goal of the day was to finish under 1:44:48 (8 min miles). My plan was to run the first 6 miles at an 8 minute pace, then after that turn on the juice and start basically a tempo style run for the next 5-6 miles. Then for the last 2 miles just bust ass.
At the Start Line:
Jen and I took off from the start to do a few strides to get our bodies in motion. We still had on our warm ups at this time. As you can tell from this photo (courtesy of Zach) it looks damn cold out! Look at all that pretty snow in the trees.
Since we were right up front there were several "elite" athletes nearby which was cool. Jen asked me what my HR was.......136! Jesus Dumphy, sloooow down. This had been after standing there for a few minutes, no action. I was definitely pumped and excited and ready to do this thing.
And They're Off!
Once the "gun" sounded we started our Garmins and took off right at the front of the pack. I wanted to be right in the front so my finish time was really my finish time and not the minute it took to cross the start line. Probably overkill for a race this small, but it was fun to be right up there in front. Fun until hundreds of people seemed to pass us! Kind of a confidence killer, but I knew the people passing were serious runners - they all had those transparent legs where you can see each tendon, ligament, muscle striation, etc.
Jen and I were sticking together and had our Garmins in sync. We knew we went out fast, especially hearing others around us estimating their own pace to be "6:40" - WHAT?! Jen made the smart move of checking at the 0.50 mile point and we were at 3:35, or a 7:10 pace. Definitely not the plan!!
We hit mile 1 at 7:29.
The 1st turnaround was at mile 1.5 and we realized that we were actually not the last people in the pack, plenty of other racers behind us which helped a bit w/the confidence. We realized that we could drop back the pace a bit, so the next 2 miles just kept on going.
Mile 2 = 7:49
Mile 3 = 7:42
Mile 3 crosses the start line again. Jen told me to go on at that point and we split; I think the last words I said to her were "I am about to black out." What I meant was that I needed to get inside my head because I knew I'd be all alone for the next hour +. It was so nice to have Jen there so I knew it was going to be mentally tough for the rest of the race. I felt really comfortable with the pace I was keeping thought and knew that I could keep it up if I focused enough.
At this point the course goes off the road and takes a turn onto a paved path. This path was covered in slush puddles that were pretty slippery (see photo above). I ran along the side where there was still some white snow because it wasn't as slippery to me. This continues along the 6 mile turnaround and back to the start line again, which is also mile 9. On the trail stretch I just focused on keeping my pace under 8:00, knowing that after the 6 mile turnaround I would attempt to kick it in more. I passed a few people and was able to admire the front runners coming back toward me. I tried not to focus too much on what was going on around me because I was really trying to focus on me and getting in my zone. Right before the turnaround/water station I choked down 2 shot blocks so I could have something to wash it down. I saw Jen right away and I think we high fived (?) - it was great to see that familiar face again. Miles 4-6 felt like they should have been a lot faster - I think it was the slippery surface that was slowing me down.
Mile 4 = 7:44
Mile 5 = 7:49
Mile 6 = 8:00
Here are some photos of that turnaround:
(I love that 1st one with the boat in the background - I might have to order it.)
Then I was at the point where I needed to kick it in and I did. Miles 7-9 I managed to pick off a few more people which was awesome. I kind of stopped paying attention to each mile's pace; I knew I was running faster than 8:00 miles and didn't want to start calculating and re-calculating final numbers in my head.
Mile 7 = 7:38
Mile 8 = 7:39
Mile 9 = 7:44
I saw Zach a little before the 9 mile mark, as I was getting off of the trail; he snapped this shot:
After mile 9 I started to feel the pain - we went back through the start line again and are back on the road at this point. I could feel every step on the pavement and the earlier efforts were starting to catch up with me. I had only a few miles left and knew I just needed to grind it out. This section of the race is basically no-mans land... My only friend at this point was an elderly man that I passed who I honestly think may have been about to collapse. The sound effects that accompanied this were extremely troubling so I sprinted past him just to get away. There is a turnaround at 10.5 so I tried counting all of the women in front of me - I guessed it was somewhere around 15-20. Awesome! My goal from here until race completion was to not go above an 8:00/mile - which I only wavered by 1 second in the final mile.
Mile 10 = 8:00
Mile 11 = 7:55
The 12 mile mark is ONCE AGAIN the start line (this was getting old) and I was so happy to see that I had only 1.1 mile left! Again, that last stretch was treacherous! Basically alone until the last quarter mile....it seemed to go on forever. And I guess the reason it went on forever was because there was more than 1.1 miles left, THERE WERE 2.1 MILES LEFT. (I only caught this mistake after I just re-read the report - what a dumbass. But it does explain a lot.) I kind of let myself slow down a bit because I knew I was was well within my goal time AND there weren't any women behind me threatening to pass. (I only had one person [a dude] pass me in the last 8 miles of the race and the little bastard did it right at the end!)
This is a great photo that Zach took passing through the trail toward the finish line...I love the composition here!
Once I started seeing spectators again I kicked it in and finished somewhat strong. There were several people I knew waiting at the finish line which was an awesome way to end it all.
Mile 12 = 7:57
Mile 13 = 8:01
Mile 13.1 = 1:05
Finish time = 1:42:38
Jen wasn't far behind and finished really strong as we cheered her in. After a few minutes of calming down and drinking water we went to check out the results tacked up on the wall (like finding out if you made the high school musical). I finished 2nd in my age group! Jen finished 3rd in hers!
I got choked up around mile 8. I am such a cheeseball, but I was seriously so happy that I was doing it. I was overwhelmed that I was able to do what I'd set out to do and it made me happy and teary all at the same time. Do you ever imagine yourself giving an Oscars thank-you speech? That's what happened. And once I recovered in about 2 seconds I realized I still had 5 f'ing miles to go....I snapped back to reality really quickly.
I am still so happy with how this race worked out - I trained hard, stuck to a plan, created a racing strategy and actually did it! I still can't believe it. It was so fun, but now it is Monday and I'm back to square one..... Any ideas on what to do next?
Some additional pics from the day below....