Now that some of the excitement has worn off, I can reflect and give my favorite people an update on my race. This race wasn't part of my original plan for the first half of the year. I was supposed to be part of a marathon relay team for the Last Chance for Boston race this coming weekend. When that fell through, this race sort of fell upon my lap. I heard about it's challenges (the winter weather, the hills), but I also heard about the sweeeet perks (coffee mug, hot chocolate, bragging rights). It seemed like a fair trade off.
Let me set the scene for you. Visually, it looked like we were in the middle of nowhere...kind of like home for me. Good ole country highways, sporadically placed homes, dead possums. This race started at 1 p.m. and the HIGH was single digit with wind chills of at least -10 degrees. Sounds fun already, huh?! Apparently the wind was blowing pretty good that day, too. There was leftover snow from the day before but the roads were actually pretty sturdy. Only a couple of slick spots.
Oh! I almost forgot...HILLS! I heard all of the horror stories about the hills on this course so I was definitely expecting the worst. I'm no stranger to hills. My first full marathon was basically 26.2 miles of hills...and not the weenie kind. I also lived in Nashville where hills are no strangers. I think the fact that I expected the worst was to my advantage. I was never scared of what may lie ahead, but I was curious.
The course was a 7.5 mile loop that we ran twice. Most people I spoke with that were familiar with this course thought the last few miles of the loop were the most challenging. For me, I thought the first three miles were the worst! The very beginning was a gradual incline. I started much slower than my goal pace but it was still so challenging. The last thing I wanted was for my warm up miles to be a gradual uphill! Once I got warmed up, I was ready to go!
I'm going to be straight up honest because I don't care about being judged when it comes to my running times, but I do want people to know that we all fail and don't meet our expectations at some point (which is why I'm sharing): My initial goal, prior to seeing the weather report, was to average an 8 minute mile. My goal for the DC half is 1:40 (7:38 average, I believe) so I felt, based on my training, that 8 minute miles were realistic. Well, that changed quickly! I didn't meet my time goal but I did run the race in 2:08:40 (average mile pace per official results was 8:35, my GPS watch showed 15.12 miles which was 8:31 average).
I know that many things influence one's outcome so I always set a second goal. For this race, I had two additional goals: 1) Try to win my age group. 2) For my BFF, Jackie, to be top three overall. Whether she wanted it or not, I made that her goal! LOL. I might not have met my time goal, but I did (with the help of Jackie) meet the other goal. Jackie placed 3rd overall (I was so pumped for her!!!) and that bumped me to the top of my age group.
I'll be honest, yet again...because of the elements, a lot of people either dropped out of the 15 miler or just switched to a shorter distance. I think there were only 7 female runners to do the 15 miler. Despite that, I'm still proud of my result and award because, in my heart, I feel that would have been the outcome anyway.
I was so excited for all of my friends who braved the weather to run this race. It was definitely an accomplishment! Because of it, I'm now on a cold strike and will stick to the treadmill until my long run on Saturday.
What I learned from this race: I will be going back to this course over the next several weeks to practice hills for the Flying Pig Full. I also confirmed for the bazillionth time that I totally suck at finishing a race. That last 1-2 miles of a long race always gets me! I'm pretty sure my idol,
Amanda, promised to help me with that ;)
My focus now goes to the DC half...March 14th!!! After a day of complete rest and a couple days of easy pace runs, I'll be ready to hit the speed workout with my sights set on the next goal! Thanks for everyone's support!!!