The day had arrived, the time was now. No more lead up, it was race time.
The arrival of race day brought with it a lot of rain. Warming up beforehand it was a slow rain so it wasn't too bad; enough to keep us cool but not enough to slow us down. At least that was something. We had meant to meet up with some friends, including Mel B. but circumstances conspired to not make this happen so I kissed Jen who was on her way to her first half marathon (yeah!) and I went off by myself to get ready. So far so good. Got in my warm up, took my Gu, and headed for the corral where I ran into Vin making his way to his corral. He left me with an amusing story of how that morning he was applying Glide to his nether regions when he began to feel everything getting a bit warm down there. He looked at the stick and realized there was a red cap. That wasn't Glide, it was the warming pain relief stick he had just rubbed allover himself. Several painful minutes passed of which I imagine him to be hopping around wanting to die and then he was ok. That brought a smile to my face.
As I stood in the corral waiting for the start, which was so pleasantly delayed for almost 20 minutes due to who knows what, I kept running through the plan in my head: start out at a 6:24 pace, hold that for a bit, and then it will slow down when I get too tired. Seriously, my plan was to not run a 1:24. I had actually managed to talk myself out of running an aggressive race. Never before have I entered a race convinced that I couldn't do it so I shouldn't bother to try. The longer they held us at the line the more annoyed I got and the closer I came to smacking the overly-perky girl next to me. Seriously, shut up for a freaking second I'm trying to get prepared here. I was at the point that I wanted them to start just so I could get this over with.
Finally, we ran. Surprisingly I found that my pace very easily settled into the low sixes. That was a good sign but, as I kept reminding myself, there was no way I could hold it for the entire race. It's good to start in the front of a race; much fewer people to have to navigate around so after the first mile the road had opened up quite nicely and I had lots of room to work with. From here on in I was never in much of a pack and even though there were a few times I wish I had some people in front of me to break the wind it was nice to have so much breathing room.
The first few miles ticked off and I had already become lackadaisical about my pace; if I saw that I was in the 6:30s I just accepted it and figured it was good enough. After all, I was bound to get tired at some point and crash. Around mile 5 the weather stopped being a mild annoyance and decided that it was time to step it up a bit. From here on in it cycled through periods of light rain and pelting downpours that stung your eyes and really made things miserable. Blasts of wind were always at our front, even though parts of the course doubled-back on itself.
I kept running. I stuck to the hydration and Gu schedule. I liked where I was in the race and knew I was doing ok. Heck, I might even make it into the top 50 of a Rock N Roll race. Wouldn't that be a rush! Through the wind and rain and flooded streets I kept on picking up one foot and putting down the other and I actually felt pretty good. Even though I kept expecting to peter out I was doing alright and continued to pass more people. After the first couple of miles I don't think anyone passed me that I didn't then overtake a bit later. I felt a bit too slow on the uphills but was usually able to make up for it on the descents and the flats were still fast and strong. But I knew it couldn't last, inevitably you begin to wear down and get tired. The last part of a half is always a challenge and it was going to be a struggle to maintain a good pace. The thought of that last hill in front of Providence Place at the finish was filling me with dread. That hill is a killer at the end of the 5K so I could only imagine what it was going to be after 13 miles.
At mile 9.9 I took my second and last Gu packet and ran on to the 10 mile marker. And as I crossed the Point St Bridge I suddenly realized that I had made a colossal mistake; I had run this entire race all wrong.
P.S. 200th post!!