Second annual event and my second time here. Last year I missed a PR by two seconds on this tough hilly course. My PR from 1997 stands at 1:16:20 and this will be my eighth time racing this distance. Feeling good and confident that if i have a good day I can beat that PR time. I know for sure that I could beat it on a flat course, but this is anything but flat. Very well organized and inexpensive event. This year they have us parking in a lot on the other side of the street and we have to walk about a quarter mile to packet pick up. Bright sunny day, I have plenty of time and it is not warm yet so the walking is no problem.
Start - Lots of people here. I find my running pals and line up near the front. Chip timed but no mat at the start, only at the finish. We start right on time and go screaming out of the parking lot. Now the one mile downhill. Going about 7:15/mile, hoping to bank some time for the return trip up. The road is open to traffic so we are given a narrow lane marked by cones on the edge of the road. Have to watch for bumps in the pavement. In the shade the sunglasses come off to see better, but there will be a lot of open sun where I will be glad that I have them.
Mile 2 - Turn and a steep uphill. I forgot about this part from last year. Now level and then downhill and on to the Narrows Bridge with its long downhill on this side
Mile 3.5 - One of those wonderful moments that I capture in my mind. Running strong with the Rogue Wave, amazing scenery. Way above the Puget Sound with a large boat going under the bridge. On shore there is a train winding down the tracks. Blue below and above, green trees on the hillside ahead. It is just so awesome to be here now and to be running strong and fast.
Mile 4 - And just like that every thing falls apart with the change in incline. Now it is real work to get up the far side of this bridge. The Rogue Wave glides up these hills so easy but I can not keep up. Working very hard now, I see Ginger heading back downhill very intent on her own race. Finally to the top and the turn around. We are not quite at 5 miles yet and this year we are turning around before crossing the road, I hope that the course has been adjusted to be an accurate ten miles.
Mile 5.5 - Sure was easier coming back down. Marthino and Kimpossible sightings. Now on the flat part of the bridge and well below PR pace. Get my rhythm back. I sense someone catching up to me. Now I feel someone grab the back of my singlet and tug on it a little. Ah, Maniac Pedro. I had expected to see him here. Running a smart race, he says hi and then goes on ahead. Now I am mostly alone. I can see runners ahead of me but we are mostly all spread out. Last week at the 5K race I ran side by side with a guy for the last two miles and it helped me keep up the pace. Looks like today it will be a solo effort on the uphills and I really do not know if I will get that PR.
Mile 6 - Now begins the crazy uphills. Steep up off the water. We should turn here, where we came on to the bridge, but no the volunteer has us going on straight. This is the course change to keep it an accurate distance. But it makes us go up and even steeper hill. I can see a guy in a green shirt up ahead and he is taking a walk break this hill is so steep. Maybe I will catch him, but no he starts running again. Brutal hill, finally a turn onto some flat.
Mile 7 - Bob Martin passes me. Now the steep downhill and my right foot is not happy. I have had a nagging issue in there for some time now. I think that the slapping downhills are not helpful for it. Well, soon enough I will be going back up.
Mile 8 - Turn and now it is flat and gradual uphill. I can not do the math very well to know if I will PR. Stop looking at the watch and just work hard.
Mile 9 - OK, reset the watch and realize that if I can get up this hill, this last mile in 8:11 I will match my best ever time. I am very unsure if I can do it, but know I will try my best. It is tough but not as brutal as I expected. My form is holding well and I attribute that to recent core strengthening work I have been doing. I am not going blazing fast, but I am not falling apart either.
Mile 9.5 - Guy with the green shirt is walking a little again and I am able to catch him. Just as I am even with him I realize that it is the same guy that I ran with, who beat me by one second, last week!! I really am focused on that PR so I blaze on and now I have the fear that he will catch me to keep me moving as fast as I can.
Mile 9.75 - Hear the finish line announcer say that Bob Martin has come in. I must be close as I crest the hill and enter the parking lot. Give it my all. Then ease up knowing I will get that PR. But now I can see the clock still in the 1:15:50s and I sprint hard to get in before it gets to 1:16:00. Awesome feeling to run so well. GPS read 10.04 miles. Run Like a Dog guy is only seconds behind me and he congratulates me. I want to talk with him, but Tony wants to take my picture (thanks for the photos today), and I can not find him after that. Its always fun to race with someone who is right about my level and recently I have a couple of people who are right with me.
I have time today to stay around for food and awards. I can definitely see myself coming back for this race every year.
41st of 356 5th of 24 in age group
Race#248, Ten Miler#8