The overall results and the age group results are posted on the HTC Website. Those guys do an amazing job of timely results posting. Thanks guys! I took 1:01:44 to run the 15k which was good enough for 17th overall and 3rd in the 35-39 age group.
One of the first things that stood out to me is the number of runners that were there in the misty, cloudy, foggy, breezy conditions. I mean, running 9.3 miles is not a trivial thing to do, and nearly 300 runners did it today. That was nice to see!
I toyed with a couple of different ideas for this race. The plan called for 18 with 12 at marathon pace. That crossed my mind. However, I've never raced a 15k. Except for last year's Rocket City Marathon, I've never given race effort in a race longer than 10k. So, I wanted to give it a go today.
I had good rest last night and settled in to my pre-race routine well this morning. I drove over to pick up Matt. We were able to get in a good 2.7 mile warm up with some strides at the end. I felt pretty good and was ready to race.
The First 5k
Before I get too deep into the details, I'd like to give a BIG thank you to Shane O'Neill. He's running a marathon next weekend and didn't want to put that goal at risk with hard effort today. So, he ran this race with me. He's much faster than me, and he's one of the guys I look up to. I admire the progress he's made over the past couple of years. It's amazing. Having him pace me helped a TON! It almost felt like cheating. His knowledge of the course and helpful tips along the way were most helpful. And to think, this wasn't even a marathon pace effort for him!
I simply started too slowly. I should have clocked those first 3 miles near 6:35, and I instead clocked them above 6:40. I was saving too much. Those 20 or so seconds are gone, and there's no way to get them back! Maybe those 20 seconds are what enabled me to finish strong. Who knows?
The first mile was mostly the forming of the packs. There was a lot of passing and getting passed. I don't remember much except that I ran behind Matt for a little while and I ran behind Randy McFarland some. The other memory of the first mile is that there was no cone or sentry for the turnaround. The arrows on the road were very visible, but I possibly would have missed it if I weren't running in a pack that was familiar with the course. Probably both a cone and a sentry would have been good there. I hit the first mile in 6:43.
I should have hung on to that next pack that formed ahead of me instead of letting them get away. There was a little passing and getting passed in the second mile, but I don't remember much about it. There was only one person who passed during this mile that I didn't track down. I ran it in a slower than expected 6:45.
The third mile has a slight rise early, but is mostly downhill. Also, I had someone to track down during this mile. I was able to pass John somewhat easily, though he did resist a little before letting me go. After John, there was another runner ahead that I didn't recognize and neither did Shane. I commented here that he shouldn't finish ahead of me. I should have said nothing. Not only was I unable to catch him, but I was unable to even close the gap. I was more pleased with the 6:27 split for mile 3.
The Middle 5k
The fourth mile is significantly uphill. I am less disappointed in the 6:46 split now that I look at the elevation of the course than I was when my watch rang. There is a turnaround near mile 4 on Old Chimney Road (the picture on the shirt is of the old chimney!). At that turnaround, I saw several familiar faces. Matt seemed no more than 15 seconds behind. Shortly behind him was Linda Scavarda, who ran incredibly well! Congrats on a HUGE PR, Linda! I cheered on some others that I knew and several cheered me on. That's about the only thing I like about a turnaround.
Shane warned me that the rest of the race would be like the trek up to the turnaround. There would be no worse hills, but there would be plenty of them. We headed down Monte Sano Blvd. to the Panorama loop. I'm happy to say that 6:40+ miles are now all finished! The rest of the race was lonely, except for Shane. By running faster miles now, I was leaving the people behind me. I wasn't running quite fast enough to catch the people ahead of me. Miles 5 and 6 were 6:34 and 6:37.
The Last 5k
Shane commented that I may have just run a 10k PR. It wasn't quite, but it was about 35 seconds or so slower than my 10k PR. I hit 6.2 miles at about 41:32 or so. I felt GREAT at this point. I knew that I only had 5k to go, and I was determined it would be the fastest 5k of the race.
The course continues to roll on this last 5k, and there were no runners in sight, ahead or behind. I was just running my pace. 6:36, 6:31, and 6:29, and 2:11 for the last 0.3. With a mile or so to go, Shane took off. He was able to reel in Dink, but not the other guy that I had wanted to reel in.
I was working pretty hard in the last 2 miles. I had a lot left in the tank coming into those miles, and I had to use it somehow. I probably waited too long to drop the pace.
There is no doubt in my mind that I could have and should have run this race faster. I felt too good coming into the last 5k. I recovered too quickly after the race. Within 5 minutes, I was ready to run again. I felt great for the rest of the day!
Having said that, I am very pleased with the time. My goal was 63 minutes and I beat that soundly. Next year, I will be sub 1 hour in this race. If I ran this race next weekend, I'd try for sub 1 hour! That race gave me a TON of confidence that I'll break 40:00 in my next 10k.
After the race I did some cool down miles with Matt, Shane and Marty, then I found a co-worker, Jay Allison, finishing up the race, so Matt and I brought it in with him. Since both Matt and I got age group awards, I couldn't resist a trip to Fleet Feet since I was already in Huntsville. Hopefully I'll try out those new trail shoes soon!