Ouch. Can't wait until next year.
We woke to overcast skies but warmish temperatures, and that's exactly how it stayed all morning. It was in the mid 30's and no wind, which are perfect conditions for a 10-miler in February in Maine, really. I really wasn't sure how I was going to run or what to expect since I've only been running an average of 12 miles per week and hadn't done a road race in years. I thought I had an outside shot of running 1:10:00 (7:00 per mile), knew that I would be happy with 1:12:30 (7:15 per mile), and was pretty confident I could run 1:15:00 (7:30 per mile). With those numbers in mind, I positioned myself somewhere near the back of the front on the start line, and we were off.
Mile 1: Oh @#!#@%!!!!!
As I approached the first mile marker, I felt very relaxed. My plan was to go out easy since there are some big hills in the first couple miles. So, I stay relaxed and just went with the flow. Um...bad idea: 6:41. Not good times, waaayyy to fast. My first thought: "Oh this is going to really suck later." Second thought: "No worries, just go with it. Stay relaxed. You feel great.
Mile 2: Hill-tastic
The big hills are in the second miles. I reigned it in a bit, and just stayed relaxed. I was feeling really good and becoming less concerned about my first mile. I hit the 2 mile marker in 13:45 for a 7:06. Real solid with the hills, but not too difficult.
Mile 3: More hills
This mile stayed hilly, but I still felt good. I was hopeful at this point. As I was feeling good on my best case scenario pace. As far as the actual splits go my memory is a little hazy for most of the rest of the way because...well, I was running and math isn't my strong suit. 3 miles: 20:50ish. (That's me, #333. No idea what I'm looking at.)
Mile 4: I can handle this
Just past the 3-mile mark, Ian Parlin of Trail Monster Running whom I recognized from his blog and more importantly as race director of the Bradbury Bruiser caught up to me. I introduced myself and complimented him on his great work putting together that race. We chatted a bit and ran together for about a 1/2 mile, until I realized that he was running faster than me, and I could do nothing but keep an eye on him from a far for the next couple miles as he pulled away. (He ended up finishing quite a bit a head of me, running a strong, much smarter race.) But, I was still feeling good, and hit the 4-mile mark in 27:45ish.
Mile 5: Halfway
Um...more running. Feeling solid. High-fived a group of kids not long before the 5-mile mark. I went through 5 miles in 34:50ish. Another 7:05ish mile, and I was feeling good...not great. I knew I was working, but I still felt strong. The hills had been often and rolling, but no big uns. Maybe I can actually run 1:10!
Mile 6: Where did that piano come from?
I'm really sure what happened, but shortly after the 5-mile mark I felt bad. Then there was a good sized hill. It felt huge. I really struggled through this mile. I thought I had slowed down a lot, but I hit the 6-mile mark in 42:10ish. I'd only slowed to a 7:20. "Wow, that's good." I was pretty encouraged at this point because I thought I was going much slower. Plus, everyone around me at this point were negative split specialists, and I getting passed a lot. Or at least it felt like it.
Mile 7: I have no recollection of those events
Seriously, where am I? Just another mile in the second half of a 10-miler. It was a little slower, and I was playing the role of the guy that everyone was reeling in. I went through 7 miles in 49:30ish. At this point, I knew I was running hard and 1:10 was probably out of reach unless I got some sort of divine intervention or hitchhiked, but I immediately dismissed any negative thoughts because I quickly remembered that 1:10 was only a long shot.
Mile 8: Those are my feet
At some point in mile 8, my feet started to really hurt. They were just sore. I guess they're not used to running on the roads. It was during this mile I also had my first "Where the hell is the mile mark?!?!" moment. It was starting to hurt, and I was slowing. 8 miles in right around 57:00ish. "No, no I don't mind you passing me. Have a nice day." Remember that 6:41? Um, yeah, not good times.
Mile 9: Oh @#!#@%!!!!! No, really, oh @#!#@%!!!!!
At some point near 8.5 miles, it happened. I got a cramp/pain/horrible angry demon in my back/chest. Something appeared in the middle of the lefthand side of my back and reached forward into my chest. It was half pain/half cramp/all bad. I think it was something in my diaphragm. It's really hard to describe, but it hurt like hell. It made breathing very difficult and I could barely move my left arm. Neither of these are conducive to running. It was around 1:04:40ish when I staggered past the 9-mile mark. I seriously thought I was going to have to stop and walk. I was not happy.
Mile 10: Satan face (Pictured at right)
At the 9-mile mark, the race goes uphill...a lot. It's an unpleasant, long, straight uphill kind of hill that goes uphill. Having to drag the angry demon up it was not enjoyable. In fact, it flat out sucked. Who's idea was this anyway? Even without dramatic music, a heart warming cutaway to a story about how I was raised by blind wolves that live in trees and an interview with Dick Enberg, I managed through the final mile. Once I finally reached the top of the hill no one passed me in the final half mile (in fact, I actually closed in on a couple guys who had previously passed me), and I crossed the line in 1:12:15.
Overall, I'm pretty happy with the race. The first mile was a huge mistake that I certainly felt later on. I vaguely remember that it doesn't quite hurt as much with negative splits; the hanging on trying not to blow up strategy never goes well. Really, though, I'm not surprised at this tactical mistake since I haven't done any racing in a really long time and have never really raced anything on the road over 10k. So, not the smartest race, but had I thought more about it beforehand, this would have been very predictable. I do know that I need to do a lot of core work: stomach, back and everything that's not an appendage. Sit-ups, crunches and other tortuous movements are in my future. Hopefully, this will keep the angry demon from mile 8.5 at bay. The demon probably cost me at least a minute, but I'm glad I was able to fight through it to finish strong. The course was hilly, but we definitely lucked out with the weather. I'm really, really sore today...especially my quads...and my calves...and my feet...and my back...and my stomach...
I ended up in 136th place out of 691 runners, 116th male. My time of 1:12:15 averaged out to 7:14 per mile. I was 15th out of 31 people in my age group. Click here for complete results.
On the women's side, D ran a great race (on her birthday!). She also went out a little too fast, but she finished really strong. She finished in 293rd overall in 1:20:39.
It was a good day. Except for the whole SuperBowl fiasco.
All photos courtesy of here.