ENOUGH WITH THE SMALL TALK. HOW'D IT GO?
Quite simply, this was my best run ever. My time of 1:30:42 was a PR by 2:32 and equates to a faster time than I have run at any other distance.
DID YOU WIN?
Actually, yes, for the 2nd time (I won a 10K last September). First place out of 57 overall, 7:35 ahead (more than a mile!).
HOW'D THAT HAPPEN?
The start was a little confusing, as we crowded together a good 50 feet or more behind the starting line. The horn went off, I kinda just shrugged and moved on ahead, the third person through the blow-up arch. After an immediate left turn I made a quick pass of one runner, then reminded myself to settle down as I chased the leader. In my head I had planned to take the first mile slow, but then again I plan that every time and it never happens.
But today, it did. I kept my breathing slow and my feet followed, resulting in a pace that felt rather effortless in the cool air. No further than half a mile in, I passed the other guy and let the officer on the motorcycle lead the way. At the next turn, just past 2 miles, I looked back. I saw no one. I made the turnaround near 4 miles and ran .19 miles before crossing paths with the next runner, a .38-mile (or 2:40) lead. I guessed based on last year's results that there wouldn't be a lot of speed demons, but this was stunning.
I finished the first loop and headed back out for the second, this time without the escort. Most of the course was extremely well-marked and coned, but I was still a little nervous as the streets weren't exactly deserted. Fortunately there weren't any incidents, and I focused on holding my 7:00 pace (or banking time against the 7:05 pace I was aiming for, including any late meltdown).
Past the 10-mile mark we hit that turnaround again, and this time I was .72 miles ahead. I smelled victory, and quickened my breathing and my pace for the homestretch. Hearing my name announced (and pronounced correctly) was a great feeling as I zoomed over the finish line.
The weather definitely helped, as we started out in the low 40s with no wind. A little bit of a breeze kicked up now and then but nothing like what we had around here a few days ago. The course was exceptionally easy: just a handful of minor hills. Water stops were plentiful -- if I remember correctly there were 5, so that's 10 stations for 13.1 miles.
There were some anomalies I might credit if I were superstitious. I kinda needed to get some thinking done before the race, but I got to town a little later than I wanted and by the time I got to the evacuation area I couldn't risk getting bogged down. Fortunately I never thought about it once we got going. I also ran this without a couple of things -- my left middle toenail, which came off last night as the 5th to be damaged or destroyed (hang in there, little piggies!), and my wedding ring, which is now way too loose for my skinny finger (a condition exacerbated by the cold). My wife will not credit that one for me running faster.
5:47 pace for the last 340 feet (the course was a little short)
OK, WHAT ABOUT THE REAL REASON WE ALL RUN, THE STUFF?
The perks for winning were mediocre -- an event running cap and a bouquet of dyed daisies -- but the standard swag was well above expectations for a small race. The black tech tee is decent, but the multi-color medal is quite nice. The goodie bag came with a copy of Inside Texas Running and a 6-ounce bag of kinda-old-but-still-tasty honey roasted peanuts, along with an array of local business-labeled trinkets.
EDIT: A couple weeks later, they mailed me a Winner's Certificate in a folder, a nice touch.
The big one: Tucson Marathon, Dec. 12.