So this is the third or fourth year I've done the 10K at this race. I had done the 5K with the Elder Child in there a few years, so this is third year in a row. Last year I missed a PR by about 10-15 seconds a mile, mostly since I was just kinda jogging along at the outset and hadn't had any idea that I could PR, so I didn't really try. This year, I knew that despite my weight being an ongoing struggle, I've been clocking relatively fast times on shorter runs, and also have been benefiting greatly from the hills on the trail we use for long runs. So I went into the race knowing that it was a possibility, albeit remote.
We got a call from the organizers through the running store that the YMCA needed volunteers this year, so I talked Elder Child into coming along to help out. He'd wavered on whether he wanted to run the 5K with me, but we finally figured out that he could come along and help out instead of lazing around the house until lunch. So I woke him up early and we headed out. It was chillier than I was expecting, but I knew it would warm up significantly since my race was later in the morning. He got set up to do chip handout, and I wandered back to my car to try to warm up and rest a while before the 5k start. While I was snoozing, he texted me that he'd volunteered to be a course marshall, so he'd be out on the 5K route. Then it was time to cheer on the 5k runners, walkers, strollers, dogs, and turkeys. This was one of the largest crowds ever, and it took nearly 10 minutes for everyone to pass the starting line. It was fun to see so many families and groups out on Thanksgiving. By about the time the last walkers left the starting area, it was time to head over and wait for the fastest of the finishers to cross, just around the 15-minute mark. Pretty remarkable to see those speedy guys. After about 15-20 minutes more of cheering, it was time to head to the starting line. First, I dumped off my jacket at the car, checked in with the boy on the phone, then headed out.
I ran into a couple of folks from the training group, including my pace leader, right before the start. I had decided to run m own race, and not get caught up in the hysteria and go out faster than I should. This race is fraught with hills, and even though I've been training on them, they are still there and still tough. I knew if I went out too fast, it would spell trouble later on. So when my pace leader and the other group member took off in front of me before we reached the first turn, I let them go without giving chase. Still, I clocked a first mile of 9:32, which I thought was way too fast.
The second mile went just as fast, even through the gradual uphill along the highway. Before I knew it, we were gliding downhill toward the first water stop, then here comes the first of the big hills. At the second mile marker, I checked the watch and was amazed to see a total time of 19:14 -- still going well under 10:00 miles. But by now, the hills were coming fast and furious, and they kept coming through mile 5. I had thought the worst of them was right at the end of mile 4, but then we turned the corner and saw another one. ugh. I had been keeping a pretty good pace until then, and managed to feel strong and still have energy to wave to the folks on their front yards, thank the volunteers and shout out to the police officers. The day had warmed up nicely, but it wasn't too hot, so it was really just about perfect for running. I was sweating, but not dying. The water stops were placed perfectly every two miles, per usual, and a quick cupful was more than enough to keep me from getting that dry back-of-the-mouth stickiness that I get when I push. ick. Anyhoo, it was going very nicely so far, even though mile 5 was my slowest of the day at 10:39 -- that included the water stop and that last killer hill. Still felt good, but there was that last mile plus .2 to contend with. Was I going to break an hour? It was looking doubtful that I'd do that, but the PR potential was alive.
I'd decided that I would stop the watch at mile 6 so that I could get an automatic average for the full miles; when I reached the miler marker, my watch read 59:33. That gave me just over 3:00 to finish the last .2 section and get my the PR that eluded me last year. With my clock stopped at 6, I wouldn't be tempted to keep looking down at my wrist in that final stretch. I needed to just tuck in and run. And that's what I did. I was gassed and didn't have much left in the legs, but it was enough to get to the chute with 10 seconds left to spare before it turned to 2 minutes after the hour. I cranked it for the last little bit and crossed the line at 1:01:59, a PR by 39 seconds! Wahoo!
The only downer is that Elder Child missed it -- he'd been wandering around the festival area waiting until about 5 after to come to the finish line. I'd told him I didn't expect to PR and that he should come out to the line by about then. I had no idea I'd come in a good three minutes before then! I had time to get my chip removed and grab water before he came out looking for me. Then it was time to hit the S'bucks and head home to get ready for lunch.
All in all, it was a great race. The crowd, as usual, is great and supportive, the volunteers are awesome (of course, I'm biased this year!), and the organization of the registration/chip pick-up area was much improved over last year. I don't think this race will ever get as big as the one over in Dallas, not that we'd want it to, but the ever-growing size of it does go to show that they do a good job.
For posterity, here are my splits:
Mile 1: 9:32
Mile 2: 9:41
Mile 3: 9:48
Mile 4: 9:49
Mile 5: 10:39
Mile 6: 10:00
Finish Time: 1:01:59
2008 - 1:01:59
2007 - 1:03:07
2006 - 1:02:38