Even though I get to the gym about four times a week, I haven’t been running much lately, so I wasn’t sure how this would pan out. I optimistically listed 9:45/mile as my estimated pace when I signed up a while back. That, plus the fact I ran this race faster than 11:30/mile last year, was enough to qualify me for the A corral.
I don’t think I’ve ever started so close. They had nine total corrals.
I did have the option to move back a corral but I didn’t consider that because it was rainy and I wanted to get moving. I decided I’d just run my race, made sure I was at the back of the corral, and assumed I’d be by myself.
The race began and I crossed the start line at 7:30–so nice not to have to stand around for my corral to be released! We headed west on Market street and immediately up a long hill. I was prepared for this and focused on my breathing. I actually wasn’t at the back of the pack and passed many people on this hill. As we approached mile 1 I noticed my bib that I’d carefully taped to my rain jacket was coming off.
Looks secure there, right? Well, apparently water makes tape not work. So rather than look down every two seconds to make sure my bib was still attached I decided to rip it off and hold it for 8 more miles. So that was neat.
Around mile 1.5 was the first aid station. There were little girls passing out Gatorade and reciting a cheer I couldn’t understand but they couldn’t have been more than four years old and I just loved them. I told them they did a great job.
I didn’t take photos during the race so if you’re interested in on the course photos read my recap from last year.
Like last year, I made it a priority to eat everything on the course:
- Chocolate chips
- Strawberry marshmallows
- M&Ms (an improvement over the tootsie rolls last year)
- Chocolate marshmallows
I walked through these stations and the water stations. Choking down food and water while running doesn’t save much time anyway.
Besides not allowing my bib to be attached to it, my rain jacket was a bit of a problem in areas where the wind was blowing toward me. The wind caught in my hood and made it feel like I was running with a parachute behind me. Plus, it was like 63 degrees and I was actually warm. I think I would have preferred just getting wet.
Since I haven’t done a lot of long distance runs lately I focused on staying in each mile, only looking at my watch when I heard it beep for a mile completed. That plus my rhythmic breathing made the race feel manageable and I got faster as I went along.
My pacing was great through 8 miles but then the uphills on Chouteau got to me. I hate walking so close to the end but I did it anyway.
Hills at the end are soul crushing. My walk breaks weren’t too long though, and I made sure to run a bit faster on the downhills. I crossed the 9 mile marker and had to walk a bit more even though I only had a few more minutes of running to go. Some 5k finishers cheered for us 15kers and reminded us that the finish was just around the corner so I ran again. I could see the race clock in the distance had just changed to 1:33:00.
I didn’t finish under my completely arbitrary last second goal of 1:33:00 but I did finish just under 10/mile and ran each 5k the same or faster than the last, even with a little walking. Plus I ran about three minutes faster than last year, so I’m thrilled!
Here’s my finisher mug:
After this positive experience I’m feeling much better about distance running than I did after my last race. I’m a pretty fickle runner.
Time to hibernate for a little while. Half marathon training with Big River Running Training Team begins January 10th!