First, the numbers... 8k in 31:24 which was good enough for 10th overall and 1st in the 35-39 age group.
I was on the fence about racing this one. I intended to race the Rocket Run 10 Miler, but got grossly (in more ways than one) sick. Then, I was planning to run McKay Hollow Madness, which got cancelled. I realized on Thursday that I had no idea what I may be capable of at Boston. I haven't raced. in quite a while. I haven't finished a road race since Halloween! I mean, there was Mountain Mist that I was woefully unprepared for. There was Dizzy Fifties where I changed my mind 60% of the way through the race. I just had absolutely no fitness test!
So why not? I couldn't come up with a reason why not, so I signed up on Friday. After all, I've never raced an 8k before, so a finish is a PR today! I had to do this. I'm glad I did.
It was good to see my friend Mike Greene back at the races! Mike and I warmed up together and it was my first time to see the course, so I was glad to have someone who knew the course to guide me. Woah... this thing has hills! It's a double loop course with three significant climbs on each loop. I'm glad I got a pre-race scout loop done. And, I must say, that for a road course, it is one of the prettiest I've ever run! I'm partial to the Duck and Run 5k in Athens for beauty, but this one may be prettier.
The race starts by Huntsville Middle School and leads off with the first significant climb up Adams. When we started, Donald Bowman and Victor Brown took off ahead of most everyone and a small pack of 7 or 8 runners formed behind them. For some reason, I was in this pack. I stayed here for about a quarter mile, but knew that I had no business there, so I backed off a bit. I felt good up this climb, but I knew I was running too fast.
As we were coming up the first hill, I noticed footsteps behind me and looked to my left and saw a young guy that I didn't recognize. I surged a little and didn't see him again.
On the second hill, I heard more footsteps. As we neared the 1 mile marker, Robert Whitaker passed by. I thought about hanging on to him, but his surge was more than I felt like I could cover. I kept him in sight as much as I could, which was most of the race. I split mile 1 at 6:12, just a second behind Robert.
After Robert passed, I settled into the position that I would hold for the remainder of the race. I ran pretty strong up the climb to the courthouse, but Robert was pulling away. I hit mile 2 at 12:25, but I'm starting to feel it.
Up ahead, David Purinton was falling back from that pack, and Robert was trying to catch him. As I turned left to begin the second loop, the hill was steeper than I remembered! I struggled up the hill and welcomed the slight downhill before the climb up Eustis. Mile 3 was 18:57. Oops.
There was an interesting battle going on ahead at the top of Eustis as Robert passed David. I was trying to close in on them, but I was struggling. As I topped the hill I wondered how much I had left. The downhill wasn't as fast as I would have liked. Then the climb up to the courthouse completely zapped me. Mile 4 was 25:25. I could not let up any if I were going to break 32:00! But I was fading for sure.
Luckily, there is a significant downhill after the courthouse to the finish, and I was able to take advantage. I seriously didn't know how close I was to breaking 32:00 for the rest of the way. It felt like I was crawling, but it was all I had. David and Robert had pulled out of my sight. I had no idea if anyone was behind me or not. Man I felt slow.
As I turned and saw the clock, I thought I would see some number very close to 32. 31:10? WOW! I WILL break 32! I just kept running hard and finished in 31:24, so the last .97 miles took 5:59. I was surprised because it felt like the slowest .97 that I've run in a race. Weird!
I'm very glad to be back to a road race. It was amazingly fun and I was pleasantly surprised with my finishing time. Supposedly, if I can run a 31:24 8k, then I should be able to run a 3:05 marathon. I think that is very optimistic and 3:10 is more realistic, and 3:15 is more likely on a course as tough as Boston.
And by the way, this 8k course is pretty tough.