The minute I saw M678 and M761 they made me feel good about my decision to not run the six hour ultra last Sunday. It sounded like a miserable time in cold sloppy MUD. I am sure that I will get my chance for such adventure some time, but last week was not the time for it. Today we are in Steilacoom where I will complete the series (5,10,15,20 miles) for the first time since 2000. This will be my third time racing this twenty miler. It is a great way to train for a marathon and previously I treated it exclusively as a training run. Looking over my previous results yesterday, it occurred to me that I should be able to PR here if I have a decent day. I ran fairly hard this week and did not rest up for this race because I want it to be a tough training run, but if all goes well I have a shot at a speedy time. That is speedy for me. I see that the crowd is smaller today and it seems like only the really fast runners participate in the longer runs at Steilacoom. Cold and fog again. Jacket over two shirts, hat and gloves, but am wearing shorts.
Start - Line up closer to the back with RW. We talk about starting slow, running a negative split and finishing strong. Soon enough we are off and going a little faster that I should.
Mile 1- 8:42 - Faster than I should be going. I was thinking that 8:50-8:55 pace would be better, but oh it feels so nice and easy. RW and I start policing ourselves better and slow up a bit.
Mile 3 - We meet M1002. He is the brother of M2. He goes off ahead some.
Mile 4 - RW and I have been slowly catching up to M678. I suggest that we run with him instead of behind him. This is nice on the residential road but when we hit the long, straight, busy, little shoulder stretch we have to get more single file. Still it is nice to have pacing company and be in our little pack.
Mile 9 - Not much to report. Steady pacing, holding a 8:43 average. Good conversation. M678 dropping back some. Bob Dolphin sighting. Out and back course lets me say hi to many familiar runners and friends.
Mile 10 - 1:26. An even split will get me that PR (2:53:33). I still plan to turn on the power (if I have any left) at about mile 16.
Mile 10.5 - Wow, we are pretty far back in this race. I thought I would see more folks after we turned around, but there are few of us back there. Nice group a ways in front that I hope to catch in a while.
Mile 11.5 - Tree frogs and crows making noise in the foggy woods
Mile 13 - RW still wants to hold back, but I am feeling ready to speed up some. I am hoping that today will be the day where we really battle it out and finish close. It is surprising to me that we can be so fairly evenly matched yet never finish all that close together. Lately one of us has a bad day or is not racing so much for time. But it is always nice to start together and see how it plays out.
Mile 14 - I keep running at the water station and do not look back as I sense RW is not directly behind me.
Mile 15 - Overall pace is 8:39. I remember "dropping the hammer" here in the 15 mile race. I could pick it up quite a bit, but decide to increase the pace just slightly and save something for later. Five more miles is a long way.
Mile 16 - Overall pace at 8:38. Strung out pack of five in front of me. I catch M1002. Following that blue shirt also reminded me of the fifteen mile. This time I did reel in my prey. Pass two more runners.
Mile 17 - The only significant hill. There is a Maniac that I should have met some time ago. I have seen her at each of these Res Runs and we run about the same pace, but I have not had a good chance to introduce myself. I am just behind her and another runner. I take the opportunity and ask for help up the hill. M1074 reaches her hand back and as I grab it she pulls me up the hill for a second or two. Very funny and nice. We talk for just a bit, but the timing was perfect as I forget all about the hill. Now I am at the top and feeling strong so I move along.
Mile 17.5 - Overall pace is 8:33. Nice longish downhill lets me go faster. I have passed all the runners that I could see in front of me. Now it sort of feels like I am in the lead. As I hit the last water station I say that I feel like I am in front. Someone says "hey whatever works for you".
Mile 18 - I usually do not look back but I do take a quick look over my shoulder at a turn. Nobody going to catch me unless I have a drastic slow down. It is so wonderful to be in such a positive state of mind this late in any race. I am thoroughly enjoying the day and the fact that my body is cooperating with what I am asking of it.
Mile 19 - Hello old friend, the wall. Muscles tighten, energy feels low, and quite suddenly it is not so easy to maintain pace. With only a mile to go I can handle it. Probably great training again. I have my PR in the bag, but if I can keep up I have a good shot at finishing under 2:50. That would be really great and is a goal worth fighting for. O wall, I know you too well by now and you can not beat me with your usual tricks. I can do mind over body for a mile. Really only 0.75 miles, because there is the finish on the track. Shorten stride, don't fret over the watch and just plow on ahead.
Mile 19.75 - Down the gravel hill to the track. Watch says 2:48. Wish I knew the seconds. Then it snaps to 2:49 with about half a lap to go. Working really hard now. Make the turn and can see the clock ahead. YES!! I can.
Mile 20 - Finish. Too bad only the race volunteers are here to see me. Everyone else is up in the school eating chili or something. As I wander around recovering I wait for those behind me. My new friend M1074 looking strong. Then here comes RW. Off day for her but she will be ready for whatever she peaks for. Finally M678 who was hoping to beat 3 hours. I can see the clock and it may be close, but he still has to make the turn. I yell a few times and he steams in just under his goal time. I am very bored with the Steilacoom course and can easily wait till next January to run these races again. But I will be back, because of the many great people. Also the price, location and organization makes it a great option for someone who prefers racing over training.
Next: 6 marathons in 3 months? Starting with Yakima April 4
2:49:44 PR (8:29/mile pace)
race #159, 20 miler #3
42 of 59 really fast runners