Pre-Race: This is the first Summer Series race of the season. After taking a long look at least year's results, it became obvious to me that a top 10 finish for the series really isn't in the cards for me - however I decided that I still want to improve on my overall placement against last season. Lilac missed this race, since she's honeymooning in Europe right now, so it gave me an opportunity to really focus on a goal with full concentration.
It's been overcast, cool, humid, and rainy for the last few days, and I've been praying that it would either be raining, or very cool and overcast during the race - since my best times last year were at rainy races! The forecast had said that it would be in the low 100's today, but when I woke up, it was still cloudy and cool. I absolutely cheered the few patehtic raindrops that hit my windshield as I drove out to the course.
There were a LOT of people there (there goes my small hope that the sagging economy would help my overall placement). In retrospect it makes a lot of sense. Where else can you take your family for 5 mornings of activity for a total of $25? Still, there were a lot of charity groups there - something you never see at Summer Series - and lots of high schools trucking their kids in.
*Reminder - this race is the only one with an age-group setup - so the 80+ year old women go first, then 80+ year old men, then grandparents and children go, and then they seed everyone else. Dorothy, our single 80+ year old (and the "professional" from last year) actually false started (she didn't hear the gun go off right next to her, poor dear!) so we did it again, and off she went. She had the most remarkable fuzzy red hat on. It was awesome.
Race: After pummeling my way through the teenage boys clogging up the corral, I was off - a bit after my +12:15 start time, but hey it's chipped timed anyway so no big deal.
The race course is fairly hilly for the first .25 miles, and then it lands you right onto the canal, which you run up to the turn around point, and return the same way. Although my goal was to PR (this is my best chance because of the weather) I wanted to manage myself - not go out too fast, pace myself, challenge myself, and finish strong. I feel very good that I did all of those things. My challenges were to run the entire park/hill area out and back, to run two major electric poles, and walk one continuously, and to not stop in the congestion of the tunnel either on the way out or on the way back. They were challenges for me, and I conquered them all! I also didn't get passed by someone coming back while I was going out until the 1st mile marker, which is a big deal.
What's so interesting to me is that since I've really tried to focus myself on the concept of the challenge and asking myself "Why can't I do this? What's the worst that could happen?" I feel more and more confident with my running. Rather than just running completely by feel, setting up clear physical goals for myself is actually making me a better runner.
I tried actively to not look at my watch, but it happens. My first mile was 12:42, which is perfect - not too fast out of the blocks, but definitely above where I've been training. When I got to the halfway point, I was actually surprised that felt as good as I did, and that I was halfway through the race. I hit the second mile at 26:22, and thought, ok, still right around 13 mins/mile! In the third mile, I just kept telling myself that I was already in the last mile, and it surprised me- I just felt so good. As I left the canal to get back into the park, I checked the watch again, and saw that I had 4 minutes to go before I would hit my PR time - but it's a hilly last 1/4 mile. Still I tried to push up and down the hills, I was racing, I hurt, I pushed, I kept looking for the finish line, which you can't see until you are there, and I climbed up that last hill and crossed.... 10 seconds short of a PR.
Still I can't complain - it's got hills, and I was only 10 seconds off from a pancake flat race. I also pushed myself as much as I could, and I feel very confident with how great I felt, and how much I gave to the race.
Post Race: Lady Tiara and the Hansons were racing as well, and they were kind enough to wait for me, and cheer me on at the finish line! Such good people, and both of the Hansons ran really good races! Lady Tiara beat me by 4 minutes, but she was hoping for a few minutes less. We did have some rocking breakfast, which was a great end to the morning festivities! I haven't figured out who had the better race yet percentage wise, but trust me, I will!
Race time: 39:46 (still under 40!), which is a 12:46 mile, 54/56 in the 25 - 29 female category (a long way to go to get up from 54th place!), and 724/791 overall. Go me!
I couldn't be any happier about this race considering how I was feeling until recently, the travel I've been doing, and still being prepared!