Last night, we went to the Muni to see the Wizard of Oz. It seemed like it would be a laid back enough thing to do on the night before a race. Unfortunately, it got out after 11:00 p.m., and we didn't get in to bed until after midnight. I don't know why I'm mentioning this, if we didn't go to the show, we probably wouldn't have been in bed before midnight anyways. And if we were, we wouldn't have slept well. It was race night eve, after all!
So after talking myself in to getting up, everything after that is okay. That's the hardest part is getting the first foot out of bed. It's funny (funny peculiar, not funny ha-ha) that I haven't had any race nervousness. I'm not feeling the butterflies, and that's strange for me. We drive out to the fairgrounds and wait in line for the other hundreds of cars to park--other runners and walkers. They are everywhere. At the grandstand, we talk to some friends and then head to the front gate for a warm-up mile.
My legs feel fairly good. I feel a little tired in my quads, but that will go away as soon as I hear "Go!". After the run, some short sprints and a few stretches, we pile into the starting area corral. Our friend Rick asks me what pace I'm shooting for. When I tell him between 8:30 and 8:40, he says it's about the pace he thinks he will run as well. It's 7:30 a.m.--time to "Ready. Set. Go!"
And we're off! The crowd surges forward, and I move to the left side of the street next to Rick to stay out of the crowd. As we head up Grandstand Boulevard and turn on to Main Street of the fairgrounds, I keep checking my GPS. It shows that we are pacing between 8:00 and 8:20. I tell Rick that I'm pretty sure I can't maintain that, so I'm dropping back. He pulls forward, and I feel better settling into my 8:30ish pace.
My dad said he would be there by Frannie's on Sangamon. I see his truck as we get closer. I see a couple of people sitting on chairs in the area, but I don't see my dad. Right as I am wondering where he could be, I hear, "Hi, Tammy." He's on the right side of the road, not the left. He gets a few nice pictures of the side and back of my head looking over at Frannie's. You can tell I'm looking for him. Nice picture (see below). GPS rings out.
Mile 1 completed: 8:25 pace. I knew I was pacing a little fast.
I think it's time for the iPod. I pull out my Shuffle and ear buds which have become tangled like crazy. I spend a couple minutes trying to unknot and unravel them. Finally, I get them on and crank the music. I love music.
I am recovering from the hill on my way down Third Street. I look at my watch and I'm doing about 9:00. I give myself some time to recover, but I don't want to slow too much below my goal pace. After a minute or two, I'm ready to go again. I turn on Eastman Avenue and head toward Monument Drive. A police car--the pace car--passes me going the other way. I see Emily K. hanging out the window with a camera. I'm sure that if she got a picture of me I look like I'm giving the camera a dirty look. My mind wasn't working right. It was difficult to figure out that someone was taking pictures out the passenger side window! Right behind that car is Bryan Glass--and no one else for quite sometime. Dang, he's fast!
I head into Oak Ridge Cemetery and start looking for Shane in the returning runners. Down the hill. Up the hill. Around the corner. Water. Back down the hill. Back up the hill. Done with Oak Ridge. Never saw Shane.
Mile 3 done: 8:43 pace. All those hills and recovery, I'm glad it's not too far off target!
Back to the Black Avenue hill. One last time, and the hardest part of this race is over. I'm trying to pick a runner ahead of me and stay with them, but it's not working out well this race. Sometimes, I just can't keep up. This is letting me know that I am running to the edge of my abilities today. As we approach the descent, I scroll through a couple of songs on my iPod. I need something really pumping to keep me going strong. I hear the beginning beats of "Lose Yourself" by Eminem, and I know I got this hill. Something about that song just gets me moving--driving me right up the hill. I'm passing a couple of people that just do not have it in them to keep running. I hit the volume a couple of times, and before I know it, I'm at the top and turning back into Lincoln Park.
I round the corner, and I've got new found energy. I begin to pass a few people. I'm using this flat portion of the course and my rejuvenation to move ahead. "Lose Yourself" ends, but I hit repeat because I know that I could use another dose. It never seems to get old when I'm pushing myself.
Mile 5 done: 8:45 pace. Slower than my goal, but I'm not complaining.
Heading back into the fair, I keep checking my watch. There's less than a mile to go, but I know I'm still not ready or able to really kick it in. I try to speed up, but it's just not there. I feel like I'm biding my time to the finish line, and I hate it. At the same time though, I know that I have nearly a mile left, and if I speed up too much now, I doubt if I would be able to finish strong. I'm almost to Grandstand Boulevard!
I turn the corner and I can see the grandstand building and the crowds lining the road. I start to lengthen my stride. I'm running behind this guy who is picking up the pace nearly at the same exact pace as me. Actually, he passed me just a few seconds ago, but now I'm doing all I can do to keep up with him. About halfway to the grandstand, my watch lets me know the last full mile is done.
Mile 6 done: 8:35 pace. There's my goal pace.
Oh, the last stretch. How I love you! When I see those blue mats across the road, something comes over me. I really pull together everything I have left in me, and go as fast as I can. I run through the crowd, scanning for people I know. I see Shane at the last minute and wave. Then I cross the finish. I hit my GPS to stop.
Last two-tenths of a mile: 7:17 pace. I always love my final stretch pace!
I did not hit the 8:36 pace SmartCoach had me running, but I was close. SmartCoach didn't factor in the hills that are in Abe's Amble--it's a tough course. No excuses though, I'm still extremely happy with my run. I ran hard and pretty much left it all out there. Judging how my legs felt afterwards, I may have left a little more than had out there. I need to remember, before the race, I had doubts I could get anywhere near that pace for 6.2 miles.
I can't wait to see how another year of running under my belt will change how I run this race next year. It's almost been a year since I started running. Maybe I'm not so much a newbie anymore.