I attempted to write this race report earlier today, but couldn't get past the title. Just wasn't feeling too enthused. Which is strange because the entire crew had a really good day. Plus, we got free pie!
The day started like any other race day, except for the fact that we had someone with us who had never run a race before. Ever. This was my sister's first foray into racing after she started running about 4 months ago. Her original plan was to run a bit to get in shape for ski season, but when I mentioned that D and I were planning on running this race, she signed right up. Not only did she sign right up, but she bypassed the 5k option and went right for the 5-miler. So, we helped her through the finding your name and number at registration, explained the self-seeded signs, and generally just made sure she made it to the start line. It was actually really cool, and definitely helped me keep my mind off my own nerves. Meg had enough for all of us.
D and I did leave her alone for a bit as we went for a 2-mile warm up. I felt really good warming up, but it was pretty comical every time someone blew by us. As I said to D, "Just the reminder we needed of how much were going to get smoked."
I have to say that the race is extremely well organized. It's impressive how smoothly things roll with a race with 2 separate distances and 7200 finishers. But, as my grandmother says, "You're always griping about something on your blog," so here I go...
Actually, my gripes are not with the race organizers. My main gripe is with the port-a-potty company. Without going into too much detail, I just have to say that the toilet paper was so thin, you could barely get it out of the dispenser. And, as is pre-race custom...I needed quite a bit. My second gripe is with the lack of attention people pay to the pace seeding. Put it this way, I saw a woman cross the finish line a good 20 minutes after I did, and she was standing right in front of me at the start. WTF? I did so much dodging and weaving in the first mile I must have run an extra quarter mile.
OK, on to the race...
At the start I couldn't get any closer to the front than a little ways behind the 7:00 minute per mile sign. From here, it took me about 30 seconds to get to the start line after the gun went off. Not a huge deal, but like I said, there were a number of shufflers in front of me. I tried to find my pace, but it was tough with all the people. I guess this is what you get when you enter such a huge race.
The first mile is a gradual uphill. I hit the first mile in 6:58...oh crap. About 20 seconds slower than I wanted, and I already felt like I was working hard. Not good times. Shortly after the mile mark, the 5k runners take a left, and the 5 milers stay straight. Things thinned out a bit after the break, and I tried to keep picking it up. It was mentally easy to do this because I'd been passing people the entire way. I hit two miles in 13:38, a 6:40 mile. Faster, which is good, but I was still behind my goal, and I wasn't sure I could keep it up. Mile 3 was another 6:40, and I was getting worried. I wasn't hurting, but I was uncomfortable. Then again, I was still passing people. Fewer of them, but still passing.
At around 3.5, the course heads down a hill and rejoins the 5k course. I could see a wall of people moving past. The race directors put cones up along the center line: 5k to the left, 5 mile to the right. But as soon as I turned the corner and was alongside the 5k runners, I knew that the division wouldn't stay so clean. Every so often, a 5k-er would move to the right into the path of us 5-milers, who were moving much faster. A couple times I almost took someone out/got taken out, but nothing catastrophic happened. At about 3.75, two guys passed me. They were moving well, and moving faster than I was. This was a huge stroke of luck for me. For the rest of race, I did everything I could to stay with these two. Mile 4 was a 6:37, and I had to chuckle because my 4-mile time today was only about 30 seconds slower than my finishing time 12 years ago. Oh well.
The last mile was tricky. My entire focus was on those two guys. Every so often, we'd need to get a round a 5k-er. Sometimes it was smooth. Other times, I'd have to take a different path than my buddies, and I'd lose them. A couple times, I had to snap myself back and refocus on them. I managed to stay with them for the most part. I at least kept them in my sights. In the last 200 meters, the course turns tight up a hill that is just mean. Two guys blew by me going up the hill, but I was already all out. Think exploding hamstrings and calves. I crossed the line in 32:52 for a final mile of 5:56.
I'm really pleased with my race. I never backed off, and was very close to my "pie-in-the-sky goal of 32:30, and I would have been thrilled with anything under 33:00. My safe goal was 34:00, so I'm psyched. Plus, I was wearing my snazzy new Trail Monster shirt, so I had to look good. I ended up 96th out of 2575 finishers, 26th out of 344 in my age group.
D had an awesome race. Her goal was 37:30, and she crushed it. She ran 36:18! 259th overall, and 8th in her age group. Damn. (If you read here blog, you'll see she has slightly different numbers, as they've made a number of edits to the results. I assume this is due to 5k runners going over the 5 mile finish. For instance, in the original results, I was just 2 seconds ahead of a 12 year-old girl...I'm not that slow.)
And, in her debut, Meg ran 49:25, and was all smiles at the finish. D and I waited for her, and I'm glad she ran so well because we were getting cold! I have to say I'm very proud of my little sister. Now onto the half marathon, right, Meg!
The three of us made our way through the parking garage, dropped our timing chips, picked up our potato chips and met our family. Oh, and we picked up our pies! The best part of the race.
Huge thanks my parents and grandparents for cheering us on and delaying their turkey. The biggest thanks goes to Meg's husband, Chris, for getting up extra early and chauffeuring us to and from the race.
It was a great race and a great day! Maybe a new Thanksgiving tradition?