The course is a bit of a mystery. I have been studying the map for some time and can not quite figure out exactly where we are going, with small loops and big loops and a different course at times for the longer race. We are going to have to trust that it will be well marked.
Start - Finally we head out. Shannon runs with us. After the GPS bounces around some the pace settles in and we are at 8:53/mile for a long time.
Mile 2 - Shannon is feeling good so she takes off faster. Mile marker is a little off. The GPS is reading a shorter distance than the mile marker, so that means that 8:53 is actually a little faster, if in fact the markers are correct. Course has long gentle uphills and downhills. Jody is fairly quiet, I am pleased with our steady pace
Mile 4 - Now the mile markers are considerably off. We are holding 8:53 by the watch, so either way we are in good shape. Runners are spread out, miles go by uneventfully.....
Mile 4.2 - ....until we see a long steep downhill. Down into the ravine we go. We are on roads that are open to traffic. Though there are not many vehicles, a truck is coming up up towards us and we have to watch for cars. We pick up the pace some on the downhill, but now there is a major uphill. Jody slows significantly. I tell her to pump her arms, shorten her stride, lift her knees...anything to keep her moving. We crest the hill and then there is a little more uphill. I am dismayed to see the average pace hit 9:01. She needs to pick it up but I do not know how to get her moving faster.
Mile 4.5 - The course has been well marked for us, with volunteers at most turns. Later I would learn that some half marathoners added a mile and a half to their route by missing a turn. Jody and I make the correct turn onto a paved path and continue on a flat route. I urge her to go more quickly but we only get the pace down to 9:00. I miss the marker for mile 5. After a while it looks like we are nearing the campus again. Even though I drive around on these roads from time to time, I am completely lost at this point. After a slight downhill and a turn I can see a parking area and what I think is the finish line. We are four minutes under her PR time, I know that we can reach that group of people, I just am not sure if that really is the finish. Yes it is!! I can relax. Jody can relax. She will cruise in to a two minute PR.
Finish - We cross the line together and she is thrilled with her time. GPS reads 5.96 and I am convinced that the course is short, but she still had a great run and would have set a best time even at the right distance. Accurate distance is my most important factor when judging a race. Not having a warm waiting area or enough restrooms and having to pay for food other than drinks after the race also take this race down a notch. Roads open to traffic and some folks taking wrong turns add more strikes. Funny that yesterday's race put on by a pre-school was better done that this race organized by a college. The published results have our times off and show Jody finishing 20 seconds ahead of me despite crossing the line together.
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