I had been traveling this week and it had taken a heavier toll than usual on me. Thursday and Friday, I worked in three different time zones in that two days. I ate drive-thru garbage on Friday (well, I did the best I could with drive-thru). Friday afternoon, I had to choose between a shake-out run or a nap. I slept for 2 hours! Then, I spent over three hours on my feet at the Fiddler's Convention in Athens. I had excuses ready for this race. I felt tired and heavy.
I woke up feeling icky. I could not think about eating. I had stomach problems all day, before, during, and after the race. This may be TMI, but I spent way too much time in the restroom before and after the race.
Eventually, I was able to choke down a gel about 10 minutes before the race started. I sure couldn't eat anything else. Because of all of this unwanted "activity", I barely got warmed up and showed up at the starting line about 2 minutes before the start of the race.
The race started right on time, which is the norm for HTC races. (We Huntsville runners should be very thankful for such a great organization as HTC. They really help to make the local running scene great.) I looked around and knew that top 10 was very unlikely. So, I decided to just run my own race and shoot for anything less than 1 hour. I'll just have to go whether anyone is with me or not. During the first mile, I ran a good part of it with Dink Taylor and Marty Clarke. I've had my eye on Marty as someone that I should try to hang on to during a race some time so that I can step up to the next level. Marty made it clear late in the first mile that today wasn't that day. He and Dink had a pretty good battle all day and they left me behind right at about the one mile mark.
The first mile was 6:28. I really thought my one hour goal was in trouble. That pace felt about right, but the split was too slow to beat an hour. So, I dropped the pace a bit, and it oddly enough felt better. With one exception (mile 7, which is a brutal hilly mile), the first mile was by 10 seconds my slowest mile. Wow.
|This pic, courtesy of Gregg Gelmis is about 1.5 miles in.|
The Rest of the Race
There are a couple of overlapping sections in this race. During these, I got to see several people who cheered me on. I cheered back. This, for some reason, really helps. I can't explain it. Dale Carnegie said that the sweetest sound to any person is the sound of their own name. There is a lot of truth to that. I took tons of energy from that and from the smiles and encouragement. And I tried to reciprocate.
Other than those sections, I was all alone. I could see the battle between Dink and Marty for the early part of the race, but I really couldn't gain much on them. During the out and backs, I could tell that nobody was threatening me from behind. So, I knew that I was not going to have anyone to realistically chase and I knew that nobody was going to push me. It was me versus myself. How badly do I want to break an hour?
I ran like this until about mile 7. That's when I got Dave Purinton in my sight. But he was pretty far ahead. He would have to come back to me. And, man, that 7th mile is a beast. I tried to keep positive thoughts, but the hills during that mile are relentless. And my stomach came calling again. I was beginning to worry that I wouldn't be able to finish this race. This was not good. So, chasing Dave was pretty far out of my mind. Keeping my shorts clean was the primary goal! TMI, I know.
I just tried to think about other things and keep my effort consistent and strong. I really didn't look at my watch very much for some reason. I don't know why. I looked at every mile marker, but that's about it. I really couldn't believe that basically every mile was sub 6:20, except mile 1 (6:28) and mile 7 (6:29).
During the 8th mile I had gained significant ground on Dave Purinton. I thought about giving chase, but I wasn't really competing with him for anything, so I didn't see the point. Also, up ahead I could see Greg Reynolds. I was really surprised to be this close to him. But he was far enough ahead that catching him did not seem realistic. Looking back, I probably had a shot, but I just didn't. If I had it to do over, I definitely would have given some effort toward that.
When I crossed the 9 mile marker, I heard FFRT teammate Christy Scott say "56:59". I nearly jumped for joy! I knew that sub-1 hour was IN THE BAG!!! I'd have to death march at near a 10:00 minute pace to not beat 1 hour. I then figured that I had a realistic shot at sub-59. I think that 9 mile split time was a little off, because my watch tells me I ran about a 6:05 pace for that last stretch. I really did run hard. Eric Charette was cheering me on near the finish to break that 59:00 barrier. I thought again about trying to pass Dave but I just focused on beating 59:00 and did with a 58:58.
I did the obligatory congratulations to other runners on my way to the restroom after crossing the finish line. I still can't believe I ran that well while fighting stomach issues. I have no idea what upset my stomach so. After I got settled down a bit, I went back on the course to bring some other runners in. Knowing how much of a struggle those last couple of miles were for me, I figured someone else could use a little help.
Jeremy, a fellow Athens Sunday morning 10 mile regular joined me. I met a fellow Limestone County runner, Stacey Glover, and Jeremy met some people from his Mizuno 13.1 group and we brought them in to the finish. Fun stuff.
I had a little left, but I am still VERY pleased with this race. This gave me tons of confidence going into the winter training months for a March marathon. I'm thankful and excited to be running.
I've run my last three PRs in these Nike Lunaracers.
I've struggled with blisters in those shoes, but man, they make me feel faster. I really like the ride, but hate the blisters. I've tried breaking them in by walking around the house in them, and it seems to have paid off. They were much more comfortable today. I ran 12 miles total with no sign of a blister or hot spot. It just took a little breaking in. Now, I'm not saying that these shoes magically made me PR, but a good, fast feeling pair of shoes never hurts!