Last year I ran 40 races, three in the month of January. I have no intention of trying to better that mark, yet somehow I find myself lining up for my sixth race this month. Every weekend there has been a good local option and I have had no trouble finding the time to run. Yesterday was the Run For Tina 5K. I ran well and my legs feel fine. I did not plan to do this race today, but my training plan calls for me to run 11-14 miles at a decent pace. I am trying to build up the mileage on these runs that I do at my hoped for marathon PR pace (3:45). More miles at 8:35/mile and longer and longer runs at that pace too. I usually go off well under 8:00/mile in the half, can I get comfortable and hold the 8:35 in a race situation? I'm confident that I can despite racing yesterday, so I will relax and enjoy the event.
Last year this race was in February and had some issues. I ran the accompanying 10K with Jody. There were more day of race registrants than they could handle and the start was delayed a long time. The course may not have been marked perfectly, as some runners took a wrong turn in the half last year. Word is that part of the course overlapped with the Friendship Run course from the day before and some of the chalk marks for that race lead runners in the wrong direction. We have a new course this year and have been promised that it is well marked. Sign in is in the heated gym with heated restrooms a huge improvement over last year. The race was not advertised as much in advance and numbers are down. But this eases the process and we start off right on schedule. Cloudy and cool but its dry and no wind. Great running conditions. I have shorts, long sleeves and a hat that I can toss if I warm up.
Start - Tammy is here and hoping to run an 8:30 pace to PR. She has some friends with her and this is great. I'll tuck in with and behind this little pack and make sure that I don't go off too fast. I plan to stay with them until mile ten or eleven and then run hard for the last part. Its a smooth start and away we go.
Mile 1 - GPS is off some and will continue to read short for the whole race. Either way we are going a little too fast but soon back down to the goal pace.
Mile 2 - Aid station water is warm. Unexpected and not a problem, just a little weird.
Mile 4 - Enjoying the quiet rural roads. Rolling hills the whole way but nice blacktop. My last couple of races have been on trail or rough pavement so its good to not have to think about where each footstep goes. Comfortable pleasant running. Steep downhill and then a steep uphill. That was the worst of what will be on the course. Jenny walks part of the hill and drops off pace some. She will go on the set a PR however.
Mile 6 - Out to Mud Bay road and turn onto the paved nature trail.
Mile 7 - One of our pack starts to tire and slows a little, another (Martinho) had been holding back and now picks up the pace. Our little pack is shrinking. Kristi and I focus on Tammy and keep the steady pace.
Mile 9.5 - I really like this course. We are now at a two mile out and two mile back that will get us to the finish. I can see all the fast runners coming toward us. Tammy is struggling however. I have gotten ahead of her and I stop at an aid station to drink and let her catch up. She does not look to be in good shape. Kristi will stay with her and she gives me the signal to press on without them. I was going to start running hard at mile ten, I might as well go out now. I have been watching Ruhama gradually extend her lead from us for the last three miles. She has been getting faster and I want to catch her, but she is almost a half mile ahead by now. I drop the hammer and take off at 7:30 pace.
Mile 11 - Passed Judy Fisher and am gaining on Ruhama. Get to the turn around, staffed by Bill Herzog. For such a small race it has been fun to know so many people. Even the President of the Half Fanatics Club is here. Finally catch up to Ruhamma. She is running so fast but is also struggling mightily to hold her pace. She wants to PR and asks me to help her. A PR would be 1:52 I think, for her and that will be easy. Now she says, between gasps and groans, that she would love to beat 1:50. I am doing the math in my head but with my watch not reading spot on, I can not say for sure how much farther we have to to. Down a hill and we are really flying, last big uphill and then I know that the last mile will be flat. Encourage her to relax and not let this hill wipe her out completely. I am sure that she will beat 1:50 now. Back on level ground I still have some energy left. I tell Ruhama to enjoy the moment and I set off to catch Martinho.
Mile 12.5 - This last mile seems long as we do not turn where I thought we would. I am not gaining on Martinho, but I feel good and run hard to the finish. Really pleased that I have felt comfortable the whole morning, no aches or pains. Wait for Ruhama, Tammy and Jenny who all get their PRs. Kristi must have worked some magic on Tammy, because I did not think she would make it. Way to tough it out. I don't stay for results. A quick towel off and change of clothes and I make it to church on time.
6th race of January - new monthly record