Even the weather cooperated! It was about 20 degrees, sunny, and there was just a hint of a breeze. Perfect winter running weather!
I went into this race with a crazy-scary goal of 41:59. In the days leading up to the race, I didn't think I would be able to do it. Mayyybe I could crack 43 minutes. Maybe. I didn't start race day off with a good mental game either: about 1 hour into our 2 hour drive north I realized I had forgotten my Garmin and my iPod, both of which I had planned to use during the race. Crap. I was frantically plugging numbers into the pace calculator on my phone and scribbling split times onto my hand when my very wise husband said the smartest thing ever: "Why don't you just try to run your fastest and not worry about it?"
He was so right. If I just went out and pushed myself, it wouldn't matter what time the clock said at the end of the race. I calmed down and stopped the over-thinking. Maybe it would even be better to not have my Garmin and not have to worry about my pace every quarter mile. Hmmm.
We met up with our lovely friends at packet pick up and took all of our excited energy to the starting corral. I lined up just behind the 8 minute/mile sign. (I probably could have lined up farther up, as I did a lot of passing in the first mile. Why are so many people so oblivious about where to line up at races?) I tried to look at the clock as I crossed the start line to see how long it took me to hit the timing mat. I missed it, but guessed I was around 20-30 seconds off the clock time. They were yelling out times at the mile markers, so after some exhausted runner math in my head I knew about where I was pace wise.
I was almost to mile 2 when I saw the first runners heading back to the finish line. A few minutes later I saw Kim and gave her a passing high five. After the turn-around at 2.5 I saw all of my other friends kicking major ass. I felt like a celebrity because every few seconds or so, someone was yelling out "Go Rachel!" or "Wooo Rachel!"
At mile 3 I started to feel tired. There was a bit of a steady uphill and I'm pretty sure I slowed a little because a few people passed me. I was almost to mile 4 when I started to feel a side-ache coming on. Just then, a big scraggly-bearded dude wearing vibrams, cargo khaki pants and a knitted sweater passed me. Seriously? I almost gave up. Then I heard my 4 mile time called out and I knew I was so close. How could I give up with one measly mile left?
I started repeating "No excuses, no excuses" in my head. It worked. The side ache went away and I picked up my pace. I even had a pretty good sprint to the finish as my friend Brian passed me on the last straightaway and I tried to keep up with him. I crossed and the clock said 42:33. I was already excited because that is a better time than I thought I could have pulled off. I knew with the delay on crossing the start line that my chip time was really close to being under 42 minutes. Official time:
dun dun dun
making you scroll
scroll some more - get some finger exercises in today!
42:08. Only 9 seconds off!
42:08 / 8:26 pace
F25-29 division place: 33 out of 182
F25-29 division place: 33 out of 182
gender place: 141 out of 940
overall place: 533 out of 1848
Sure, there is a slight disappointment that I was that close and didn't quite make it. I probably could have pushed it a little harder had I known I was that close. Also disappointing is finding out later that at the half way point I was under goal pace (20:55). But I am really not sad about it. At all. I killed my old PR of 45 minutes and ran way faster that I thought I could. How could I not be happy?
Afterwards I enjoyed copious recovery beers with some fast women. (We did have some hot runner dudes with us, but who really wants to see a picture of them when you can just bask in our sweaty glory?)
We all PRed! Give it up for Sarah, Kim, Kathy and Lish! The question is though, who rocks the headband the best?
So here is my profound post-race question: Would I have run faster having my Garmin and knowing that I was that close OR would I not even have been that close because I had my Garmin and would have freaked out at my pace?
It's like the 'tree falling in the woods' query, but way more puzzling...
P.S. I'm pretty sure setting that scary goal was worth it. I probably would have let the negative get to me in mile 4 if I knew I would have been under 43 minutes regardless. I'm going super scary for the next race too. Watch out!