This was a last minute race – Jennifer and I had planned to run 8ish miles on Sunday at North Park to begin with and when we saw the race was going on at the same time we figured “why not?”. I also heard that there were pancakes and hot chocolate at the end…how do you say no to that?! That’s right. You don’t! We registered on Friday, and came up with a strategy for the race: make this a progression run at race pace. Start in the 11:10ish range and work our way down to a 10:50 pace. I am horrible with my pacing during races and it
normally always comes back to bite me in the ass, so I wanted to practice starting out conservatively. This race definitely lived up to the “frigid” part – 17 degrees at the start with a wind chill of 9! Then again, compared to yesterday….it was almost pleasant. Almost.
The race starts and ends at the Lodge on North Ridge Road at North Park, and a pre-race email warned that there was limited parking up there so we parked at the skating rink and walked up the hill to the start. Realizing that we would later have to RUN back UP that beast was a little unsettling. After some warm up stretching, we made our way to the start line and found the 11:00 pacer. We were pretty excited to see that pacers were available and thought that it would be a good idea to stick with him for a bit. I’m pretty certain that I will be using a pacer at the marathon, so I wanted to try running with one today. Our pacer said that he was going to bank some time early so that when we hit the monster hill at the end we would be OK. After seeing that hill, I figured that was probably a wise strategy.
The elevation profile:
The first mile of this course is pretty level; a few up and downs but nothing major. We stuck with the pacer* for the first mile, but then started to pull away from the pace group, but only by a few steps. I was feeling good as we started down a slight downhill just before the second mile, and we were still ahead of the pacer. Our pace was still in the mid 10’s, and I was feeling good but I kept thinking about the hill at the end and wanted to save something for that. Somewhere in the second or third mile there was a water table set up, but….no one was there! There were containers and cups, but no one manning the station. I joked that it must be self serve, but it was definitely strange. Maybe they didn’t have as many volunteers as they originally planned on and decided that this was a non-essential stop?
The miles ticked by, as they always seem to when you have good company, and we kept up a really speedy pace for the first 3 miles but it was starting to take it’s toll. Conversation wasn’t flowing as much and we started to focus more on our breathing and form. I started to feel awful because, once again, I didn’t stick to the plan, threw the paces out the window and it was going to cost us. The pacer was still behind us but was inching closer and closer. The last water stop was right at the start of North Ridge Road, just after mile 4, so we walked through that and started the climb. This hill was wicked, and was almost like you were running in place. We went with a run/walk to get ourselves up to the top and about halfway up the 11:00 min pacer finally passed us. We kept him in our sights though, and seemed to get a second wind as we rounded the last turn, kicked it up a notch (passed a few people!!) and sprinted across the line in 55:15/ 11:02 pace. SOOOOO close to our 11:00 goal! When I realized how close we were to our goal, I didn’t feel as bad but I still couldn’t help but think that if we had held back somewhere else on the course, we would have had juuuuuust a little more to give at the end. That is something that will ALWAYS be a struggle for me, and something that I really need to get under control before the marathon. I can (sort of) get away with that in a shorter race, but that will (and has!) come back to haunt me in the half and full distances.
After the race, we went into the lodge to warm up and I grabbed some pancakes and hot chocolate!
All things considered, I am really happy with this race. I definitely still need to work on pacing myself but that will always be a work in progress ;-). I am really proud of Jennifer for gutting it out at the end and really grateful that she didn’t get mad when I nearly ruined it for us! This was a solid effort all around, we were only 3 seconds off of our goal pace, and this was a great way to kick off marathon training for me, and half marathon training for her!
*I don’t want to sound like a bitch, but I was not happy with this pacer. I’ll talk about it tomorrow in my weekly recap….maybe I’m just way too sensitive about being a slow poke, but there were some comments made that really rubbed me the wrong way.