Race conditions: 63 degrees, 90-95% humidity, slight wind.
Leading up to the race - We have had this event on the calendar since December. As many know, I have not had the ideal training cycle for this race. It's really been a tough first half of the year in terms of injuries. As soon as I heal up from three months of unexplainable midfoot pain, my SI joints start acting up...that starts improving only to get hamstring tendonitis. Obviously, I have some work to do in terms of strength/cross training to prevent these problems. Anyways, I take it as a victory getting to the start line and being able to race.
The competition for this race was incredible. I have never been in a race with this kind of depth. Totally intimidating but exciting at the same time. I warmed up a mile or so followed by 4 minutes of marathon pace. All of us girls watched as the elite men took off 10 minutes before our race. At the last minute, I decided to wear only a sports bra as my uniform. That ended up being a smart move because it was quite warm and humid! I must admit that I'm a little nervous to see pictures :) I lined up a couple rows back from the start line.
The race - The horn went off, and there was an immediate gap between me and the super fast pack. There was a "chase pack" as well, but they were just 5-10 seconds too fast for me and only a couple spread out from there. A little disappointing because I was really hoping to be able to tuck in behind others. I came in the first 5K in 18:00 and felt pretty good - a little too fast but not bad because this part is very flat. The rolling hills started after this point.
I was keeping a pretty solid pace through the 10K at 36:15. Starting to feel the pace a bit...kept telling myself that I need to stay mentally focused to maintain the pace. The rollers on the course made it difficult to gauge how fast/slow I should be running. At around mile 8 I caught up to the (2:31 marathoner) Dot McMahon who was very encouraging and for some reason decided to pace me for a mile or so. This helped a ton because the wind seemed to be blowing significantly at this point. I went on ahead (although she ended up beating me by one second). This is where I really started to mentally struggle. The rolling hills were taking a toll on me because my splits seemed too slow and my legs were getting tired. 10 mile at 58:45. I was actually still right on pace to break 1:17.
The rest of the course is downhill to flat and I tried to take advantage of that. I felt like I was running a solid 5:50 pace only to see that the pace in the 6:05 range. I just couldn't get myself to push any harder. My hamstring started to ache at this point (Allison told me afterward that I was limping). I did my best and came across the finish line in 1:17:21. I lost quite a bit of time in that last 5K. I tried my hardest and know that I did the best I could today.
Analysis - I am very happy with my time today. Fell apart a little at the end, but that's what happens sometimes when you go for an ambitious goal. This is the 2nd best performance that I have ever had, and I can't be upset about that! I didn't feel like I "had it"...just didn't feel like I had my A game today. It's hard to get that perfect race (but it's really special when you do). I feel like I needed a little more mental toughness and endurance to really go for that sub-1:17. I told Jake that I would probably run a marathon this fall if I broke 1:17....but since I didn't, I get to chase after it again for the fall instead of the marathon! :) Probably a little too happy about that.
Overall, really glad we came to Duluth to run this race. I can't wait to come back next year. Huge congrats to Erik (Hamdog) on his new half marathon PR, DerekD for an awesome marathon, Allison (Derek's wife and my friend) for a 1 min improvement and right next to me in the half, and Jake getting 27th in the elite men's race. Now time to party!!!