I was feeling pretty darn good the night before the race. Legs felt rested, and mentally was quite excited for this one.
I had decided on GU Strawberry Banana for my refueling, with SportsBeans (berry) for pre-race. There are two GU's only because I was worried I would drop one, as a friend did on a recent triathlon! Honestly, I am sure I could've gone through 6.5 miles without refueling, but I feel better when I do it, so I figured I would GU-up. I ran in my new Mizuno Wave Inspire 9's. They are the same make and model as my previous pair of shoes, but OH so much prettier than the orange! I had about 25 miles on them so I felt they were broken in enough for the race.
The race took place in Dublin, about 20 minutes from my house, and was set to start at 7 AM . I was up just after 5:00 to have breakfast, and left as planned at around 5:50. I figured I would get to the race with plenty of time to park, do my mile warm-up, and stretch out before it started. I hate being late to places, so I always plan on needing extra time. SO glad I did in this case... traffic was horrible! It took me about 30 minutes to finally get to the parking lot. I was stuck in standstill traffic at one point and was sooooo nervous! But it ended up being fine; I parked and walked over to the race start, and then found a nice big parking lot nearby where I could warm-up. Had my SportBeans at 6:30 and headed to the starting corral at 6:50.
You can see in the pic above that I only have one earbud in. I realized when I got to the parking lot that one of the little soft bud covers had come off at some point. Annoying! Oh well, I just tucked that one into my shirt for the race. Not too big of a deal, I suppose. I had actually considered running sans-music for this race, so I figured this would give me the best of both worlds LOL.
I had decided to start with 1-hour pacer, and then try to catch the 55-minute pacer by the end (or stay as close to her as possible). This was the first race that I had the plan to stay with a pacer, as they aren't typically around smaller races, and at Cap City I had no clue what I would be doing. The starting corral was really crowded. About 2700 runners were in the race (half and quarter marathons combined). Just before 7:00, they announced that many were still stuck in traffic on 33, and the start would be delayed to allow more to make it to the race. It bummed me out, because at that point I was ready to go! My Garmin kept going into power-saving mode, and I kept having to find the satellites over and over again. I had created a new play list for my race and since I was toting my phone in my FlipBelt and wanted to have it in there when the race started, I must have listened to the first song on my playlist 5 times while I waited.
I had hoped to meet up with my friend Tamara pre-race; we ran the Cap City together, and although she was doing the half today and I was doing the quarter, I wanted a pre-race photo together. Unfortunately, she was one of those who was stuck in traffic, and we never found each other :(
The horn finally went off at around 7:13 AM. I of course was fiddling with my darn playlist on my phone and ran the first 500 yards or so with it in my hands, trying to get my music to start up again (GooglePlay stopped!) and then getting my phone back in my belt. Stressed me out, but just a bit, and I quickly hit my stride.
I spent the first mile telling myself to take it EASY. The race route was really really pretty. We ran through a few big fields during the first mile, and I took it all in. Despite my self-talk, I went out about 15 seconds faster than I had planned. However, I felt amazing... not like I was working hard at all, so I was okay with it. The second mile was the same... a couple of seconds faster, but still very easy on the effort level. At that point, I knew I was going to have to start to pick it up, as I was a third of the way done. Felt good, but the intensity started to rise. At mile 3 I took my GU easily, and felt it kick in at around 3.5 miles. However, it was by then that the pace that I had taken the race out in was starting to come back to haunt me. I was feeling it, and I still had a few miles to go. Ugh!
As always, my goal was to negative split the race. I was worried that wasn't going to happen for a bit, due to the fatigue I had started to feel. However, I took strength from a few things. One: passing other people. I love to run by runners during a race! I love knowing that my race plan is working out. I don't get passed too often in the final mile or two of a race, and that makes me smile. And two: the cheering crowd. This route had quite a few pockets of people cheering on the runners, and some were quite loud, with their cowbells and such. There were even two youth cheerleading squads, and one had a great pyramid! I really got into high-fiving the spectators, and it was funny how my pace would get faster right before and after I would do it. I was totally feeding off of their energy. I haven't ever really done that in a race, but it definitely was fun!
Lots of self-talk going on during miles 4-6. I kept telling myself that I could do this, that I had trained and was prepared for this race. It was still so very hard, though. I was counting down the half miles left, the quarter miles left. Anything to keep my mind off of how tired I was feeling. I was keeping tabs on where I might finish as well. I had done some projections using possible split times, and knew that if I came in at the 5K at around 26:30, I would have a pretty good chance of going sub-55 (my "ultimate" goal). I was right at 26:30, so that got me pumped. At 3.5 miles I hit 30:00, so I did some mental math quickly realizing I would need a sub-25 minute 5K in order to make my goal. That freaked me out just a bit, considering my PR is 24:26! I am such a numbers geek, and it doesn't change when I am running.
It wasn't until around mile 6.1 or so that I caught sight of the 55 minute pacer. She was a good bit ahead of me, though, and I was pretty sure that I wasn't going to be able to catch her in the final stretch. I would definitely try, though! When I saw the bend in the road towards the finish, and then the finish arch, I put it into high gear, sprinting with all I had. I was actually surprised by how much I did have left! I was looking at my Garmin, knowing how very close I was going to be to the 55-minute mark. I must have checked it 10 times in the final tenth of a mile. I was so happy when I ran under that archway and got my medal!
They had towels in pools of ice... wonderful idea! I wore it from right after my race until I got home. I went to the post-race area, grabbed a bagel and a banana, downed some chocolate milk (not something I prefer, but really good for post-race recovery), and gave the engraver my medal; for $10 they will engrave your name and time on the spot! With a medal as pretty as this one, I wanted it to be engraved. While I waited for my medal to be finished, I went over to the OhioHealth booth and foam rolled for about 10 minutes. Another super-awesome thing to have post-race!
I knew that my official time would be oh-so-close to my goal. Here is the side-by-side comparison of my Garmin and my medal.
Yep, as close as predicted... Garmin says 54:59, and the medal says 55:00! I couldn't believe that I didn't make it in under 55:00 on the official clock, but I had to laugh when I saw that time.
A few random guys took this for me when they saw me struggling to take a selfie after the race...
So, all in all, I am super-happy with this race. I was extremely close to my "ultimate" goal, the one that I really didn't think I could attain. (And according to my Garmin, I got it... so I'll go with the Garmin, please and thank you!) Even better, I rocked my splits!
I hate to brag, but you really couldn't ask for much better than that when it comes to negative splits. This race really does give me confidence for my half in October, and going sub-2:00.
As far as how I have felt post-race... sore, definitely. I had hoped that rolling and stretching right after I raced would make a difference, but I don't think it did. Still the same ol' sore legs for a few days afterwards. I haven't had much time to run this week, either. I did a 3 mile easy run on Wednesday night in 85-degree temps with 72 dewpoint (UGH UGH UGH), but that was it. No cross-training, either. Just too busy, and when I do the chance to do anything, I am too exhausted to even consider it! Planning on heading out soon for 10 miles, though! Nice and easy is the plan... hoping to stick to it. Five more weeks till the half!!!