I had a million excuses yesterday before I ever even toed the line. Seems to be a theme around here. I need to work on it. Some of the excuses I was giving myself for a less than stellar race were: it's cold, I didn't get to "go," I want to run with my friends, I have a cold, I ate Mexican food last night, it might rain, there is a ton of hills! As you can see, they weren't really a bag of excuses I could use if I bagged the race. So, I sucked it up and went with the idea that I would just see how I feel.
I ran this race last year with Aron, and remembered that it was a rolling hills kind-of race. The race course takes you through the foothills of wine country in Healdsburg, passing 24 beautiful wineries. Other than the rolling hills, I couldn't remember too much about the course other than that last year, I couldn't wait to get to the finish line.
Healdsburg is about 3+ hours away from me by car. So the day before (after a slight panic attack) I decided to head up with my sister and stay the night in near by Santa Rosa. I'm so glad I decided to do this, I got a decent night's sleep and didn't have to stress about waking up at 2 am to make the 7:15am start! I arrived at the start by about 6:30 and immediately ran into my team mates for Team Punk Rock Racing! Aron, Tara, Page, Ron and Aron's good friend Jessica were all amped and ready to enjoy our beautiful run in wine country. Ron had supplied the whole team with some great Punk Rock Racing shirts! Thanks Ron ;)
Jessica, Page and Aron sporting the shirts before the race!
The weather was perfect for running and racing - cool and overcast with showers expected by the end. Pretty soon it was time to line up and we all crowded together at the start talking race strategy. I still didn't know what I had in me. I had over 40 miles on my legs for the week and I was just hoping to come in with a 1:45 or MP for the race. Right away they yelled, "GO!" and we were off! I turned my music on and bobbed and weaved through the start following Aron. In the first two miles you are greeted by your first couple of hills. They are gradual but they can take a toll on you if you hit them too hard too fast. I decided to cruise, and enjoy the pretty morning and the scenery. My legs were feeling pretty fresh. For a split second, I thought, "this is going to be a good day!" Around mile 1.5 I began to pick up the pace and just see what I had in me.
mile 1: 7:55
mile 2: 8:03 (big hill and trying to conserve)
Right away I could see that the mile markers were not spot on by a long shot. I was running the tangents pretty well, and when I passed the mile 3 marker it was already reading I was .15 short. Oh well, a short course, I'll take it. Mile three was the first water stop, and learning from my last race, decided to take a quick cup of water and keep running. It actually went well! And off I went.
The whole course is pretty much up and down. The up's weren't too terribly awful, but some were longer than others and gradual. I would put my head up, kick up my knees, conserve it a little bit and then use the down hill to open my stride and use it to my advantage. I was feeling pretty dang good in here and just really enjoying all the pretty wineries around us. At this point I also was trying to get away from as many people dressed in costumes as I could! I didn't want peeps in costumes to beat me! I passed quite a few in this mile but there was still a guy about .2 ahead of me wearing a giant yellow mustard costume. It looked uncomfortable and I was going to be damned it he beat me to the finish! Thankfully, at mile 4, he pulled over to stretch - sucka'! That's what you get for dressing up as mustard for Halloween!
mile 3: 7:48
mile 4: 7:32 (HAD to pass mustard guy!)
At this point I was feeling fabulous and kept expecting it wasn't going to last. But the funny thing was, my legs kept wanting to turn over. I've been working on my stride and my kick for the past few weeks. And as I ran I really was trying to be mindful of this.
mile 5: 7:50 (water stop)
mile 6: 8:00 (water stop + GU)
By mile six I was looking at my watch and seeing I had been being quite conservative up to this point. I was still afraid I was going to bonk but decided to see how long it would last. I decided to just push on and see where I got.
mile 7: 7:52
mile 8: 7:46 (HUGE HILL where I may or may not have yelled a bad word when I saw it!)
mile 9: 7:44 (water stop)
Wow! I was flying and feeling awesome. I wanted to pinch myself. There was a woman in a green running jacket who was just flowing so nicely by me. She was miss consistent. I wanted to pass her though. I couldn't get away from her. The crowd had thinned out at this point and I knew we were getting close to the final stretch. The final stretch at mile 10 dumps you on a pretty straight and flat road. The hills were over. Up till this point I was actually enjoying the hills. I give them credit for not making my legs tire out. Using different muscles the whole time made it seem like the course went by really fast.
The last three miles on the straight section are on a road that is a bit cambered. I HATE THIS! They tore my legs up in San Diego and in Big Sur. This time though, I decided to just really focus on finding all the flat parts and keep turning over. I know I keep saying this, but my legs were still feeling fresh and by mile 10 when I knew I had a 10K left I started to fly. My breathing felt good, my kick was great and I started passing a ton of dudes. The course was still measuring a bit short up until mile 10, but nothing too crazy. But when I got to the mile 11 marker, my Garmin said I was at 10.80! WOW! Really short. I asked a few dudes around me if they were measuring short and they said they were too, but said this course ends up pretty accurate in the end. At the mile 12 marker, my Garmin said 11.75 still, even shorter. That was just the boost I needed though, mentally it felt like the finish line was so close!
mile 10: 7:43
mile 11: 7:32
mile 12: 7:28
After I passed the mile 12 marker my Garmin was finally catching up. I was so close though and started to do the math in my head. In the beginning, I was okay with a 1:45, in the middle of the race I was looking at sub 1:44, and now with just a mile left I could see I was going to be sub 1:42! I started kicking myself for being so conservative in the first half. Who knows, maybe it saved my legs for the end? Maybe it didn't, all that I knew was that my fastest half for the year was in sight and I wasn't going to let it slip away!
mile 13: 7:22
last .15: 1:01 - 6:50/mi pace
As soon as I rounded the corner for the last .10 I kicked it in and could see the clock reading 1:41:xx! I was so excited! I crossed the finish line and hit stop on my Garmin: 1:41:42! YES! I couldn't believe how good it felt! I felt awesome! It was just the race I had hoped for!
13.15 miles : 7:44/mi pace (see, it did catch up!)
1:41:43 - 7:46/mi pace
3rd AG of 30-34 (3/270) - so excited for this!
My sister and her boyfriend were waiting for me at the finish and it felt so good to share it with them. I was in shock at how well I ran and how well I felt. I kept saying I couldn't believe it! Everything went right out there. Sometimes the stars align and you just go with it. Within a minute or so, Page crossed the finish line and I got to congratulate her and then Aron crossed with a stellar race, too!
The cute medal (thanks Tara for the pic!)
Soon, Ron, Tara and Jessica all came in and it was so much fun to celebrate with them and compare stories. It is a tough course. You can burn yourself out easily on those hills. But I feel like I ran it the right way. I picked it up when I could and scaled back when I needed to. This was just the race I needed to send me into the final weeks before CIM. CIM is a lot like this, rolling hills with a net down hill. I ran them smart and I think this strategy will serve me well come December 5th.
Me, Aron & Page at the finish!
Aron, Ron, Tara and Me
The finish is pretty well organized. And by the time everyone crossed and got there stuff it was already starting to rain. Perfect timing.
I had a blast at this race. Not just because I ran great but because I had my peeps out there. Running a race with your friends out on the same course is just perfect. I loved waiting for them all to get in and congratulate them all. Thanks Team Punk Rock Racing - I had a blast, as always ;)
I'm excited to head into the next five weeks of training for CIM. My confidence level went through the roof. I need to really focus on being more positive and not letting my head get the best of me. Saturday when I started believing in myself, it all came together.
I finished the week off yesterday with a 6.2 mile recovery run and finish the week with 59.72 miles. My right hamstring that has been slightly bugging me for a bit has reared it's ugly head. I think changing my kick a bit has made it angry so more stretching will be necessary before and after my runs ;)
Congrats to all of you who raced this weekend! I'm off to catch up with all of you!
Hope you all had a great Halloween!
Happy November 1st! and Happy Running peeps!