I arrived at the starting line of New Bedford with few expectations. After a rough winter on bad surfaces and numbness returning to my calf and foot, the only thing I knew was that I would finish and that at the least, I was working towards my resolution to race more. My goal was to run even splits, start at a pace I could finish at and dig deep.
This was the first race in a long time where I didn’t find myself nauseated on the start line. Normally, I’m almost paralyzed with nerves. I don’t know if it was the lack of a particular goal, the safety of not being fully tapered or the fact that I hadn’t had to deal with race day details beyond getting to the start line, but I was calm and collected. Besides a minor altercation with a runner way in front of where she should have started and her lack of appreciation for my elbow in her back, the start was smooth. I let everyone else barrel out and just ran a relaxed opening mile in 6:46 with Matt. We chatted through 3, clicking off a 6:52 and 6:45 for Miles 2 and 3. Matt was aiming for a 1:25, so we split around 3. I felt good, although my calf had the all too familiar full feeling.
After topping the hill at 4, it was a downhill cruise for a few miles and I just focused on smooth, strong strides. Paces were 6:53, 6:28, 6:33, 6:21and 6:31 for Miles 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 respectively. I had a minor meltdown at 9, an incident perhaps predicted by Norm, who warned me to stay focused during the mile. My quads were shot from the downhill section and my stomach was upset from the Gu I’d taken during 8. I decided that the finish was as close as anything and got over it, turning in a 6:43 for 9. From there, I alternated between celebrating the finish and dreading the hill at 12.
A surprise wind around 11 was unpleasant, chilling the cup of water I inadvertently dumped on my singlet. Miles 10, 11 and 12 were 6:38, 6:39 and 6:39, which took considerable effort despite what those splits suggest. Then came the hill. Although we had run it during the warm up, and although I tend to be strong on hills, I was no happy camper while trucking up the hill. There were a few women around who were in the open class that I needed to pass, but my normal ponytail drive was focused almost entirely on just surviving the hill without stepping in a pothole. Mile 13 was a 6:52. Despite wanting to drop it for the finish, I settled for forward motion and turned in the last .2 (guess I wasn’t running tangents…) in a 6:00 pace. My gun time was 1:28, chip time of 1:27:51.
After 30 seconds of feeling like shit (and looking like it, apparently, as the race volunteer wouldn’t let me go), my all systems check suggested that things were fine, and I headed to the fence to cheer and cool-down. My post-race routine was not optimal; the food included clam chowder or fish sandwiches, neither of which I eat out of fear of accidentally consuming seafood. Instead, I ate pretzels and drank beer. A lot of beer. I paid for it Monday through Thursday, when stairs were not my friend. Just clicked off an 18, though, so I don’t think the beer permanently harmed me.
All in all, it was a good confidence builder. I went out slowly, ran a smart strategic race and didn’t have much left, as the picture below demonstrates. Don’t mess with me in a dark alley…
|Courtesy of Justin Ryea|