The goal today was to run conservatively and continue my recovery so that I can qualify for Boston in December. I guess I kinda forgot about the conservative part.
But we'll get there. Let's start at the beginning. Yesterday I'd had a long day. I knew I had a lot of running around to do so I shot an email to someone who'd offered rides to today's race so I wouldn't forget. Over the course of the day work ran late, I did 10 miles of biking (I've been commuting to school & work) and had a beer over lunch. Not the ideal pre-race plan, but life happens. When the afternoon rolled around I was feeling overtired, dehydrated and I had a headache. Frankly, I was grouchy. I seriously thought about just skipping the race, but when I got home I had an email saying it wouldn't be a problem for me to hitch a ride. I figured I might as well go since I already paid for it and I have a ride.
Cut to this morning. I woke up feeling like I could have slept another 10 hours, but I guess 8 will have to do. Breakfast was a bagel with peanut butter and a cup of coffee. Luckily my ride lives 3 blocks away so I walked over and we hit the road. The long drive helped the coffee kick in and I started waking up. I mentioned how I was trying to stay slow today. At most I'd run marathon pace. Maybe the first couple miles at MP+20 to start it off. I figured saying it out loud would help me stick to the plan. (I tend to get overly enthusiastic at races and go out too fast.)
Yet when we bolted across the starting line, I was feeling good. I tried to take it easy heading over the bridge but I saw I was at an 8:30 pace. As I kept going I settled into an 8:00 pace but was feeling pretty good. I figured I'd drop the pace down if anything started hurting.
As we approached the turn-around I decided to count how many women were ahead. I wasn't counting that carefully until I realized that I think there were only 15 women in front of me! 15th woman and feeling pretty good. Once I realized that I was doomed. (Doomed in a my-competitiveness-goes-into-overdrive type of way.) Now there was no slowing down. At this point I already picked out the woman before me who looked like another 5 miles would be a fight. So I could definitely be 14. At least.
Damn. So much for recovery. The next 5 miles I spent slowly catching up to woman #14 (my sole attempt at being "conservative"), who'd started running with #13. Great - 2 easy passes. I made a point to not blow it, so I took a couple miles to catch up and passed them around mile 8. Since our paces were close, one of them stayed with me and I couldn't shake her. As we arrived at the base of the hill there was 0.8 miles to go. At this point my legs were starting to burn. I've been biking and swimming all this week and I was thinking maybe that wasn't a great idea. We head up the hill and I pass a woman right away who's hurting. She won't catch up - another one down.
I was feeling great for half of the uphill and then I start to want to die. I actually walked for about 5 seconds before my brain kicked in and said "WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?!?!" Ahh! The woman who'd tagged along passed me (DOH!) and then I was all out. We crested the bridge and I started booking it, letting gravity be my friend. Most runners were relatively spread out, but I managed to pass one guy on the downhill before crossing the finish line.
Phew. I definitely didn't have a lot left at the end, but I felt pretty good. My legs are tired, but not sore. I downed a ton of water and gatorade, cheered on some friends and headed over for the food. You can't run a race hosted by a seafood restaurant and not try the fried catfish. And a beer. Oh, Louisiana, you may be the death of me, but after a race you can rationalize just about anything. (Besides, it was a light beer!)