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On The Right Track

Thank you, thank you for all the kind words and congrats. It's strange how I really hardly "know" most of the runner/bloggers out there, but you guys really are a great community of support.

Maybe it's just because I'm pleased with yesterday's race, but I really think it's too bad that the 15K isn't a more popular race distance. The only one I've run before was on an especially hilly cross country course, so this is the first time I've really gotten a feel for what 9.3 miles should feel like. It's just long enough to take advantage of my slow twitch proclivities, but short enough so that it ends before those last really painful miles of a half. I have this idea about an empty white room in my brain that I go into in the last 10K of a marathon and I don't really need to use it in the half marathon, but around miles 11-12, I sometimes hang out in the doorway.

Anyhoo...it seemed like a good day for racing. Low 30's, bright and sunny, a little windy, but not too bad. I planned to aim for a 7 min. first mile, figuring that would give me an actuality around 6:45 and I'd just try to stay around there like in my last half and bring it down later in the race. I brought an energy gel to suck down around the halfway point.

The mile markers from the 4 mile race run just previously so we all got a laugh (ha. ha.) when we went through the first mile marker around 5:45. I had a brief moment where I thought I was just in much better shape than I'd ever imagined before spotting the real mile marker off in the distance. Still, 6:30 felt quite a bit easier than I would have predicted.

I was running with the same small group of women that I'd started off with in a half back in January, who had all kicked my butt at the time. I ran the first few miles that time way too fast, but this time I felt more like I belonged there and just focused on staying comfortable. It was a nice, diverse collection of talented, competitive women and it felt really nice to feel a part of it.

1. An Australian woman just a year older than me that used to run for my team. She's improved quite a bit over the last six months or so, but we've been very closely matched in the past. There's a bit of friendly rivalry there and she's brought out the best in me in a couple races we've run together.
2. A 47-year-old local legend. She coaches a women's team that 1. now runs for and has an impressive competitive career of her own. I think she's qualified for the marathon trials five times. She gave me a few words of support early in the race and I felt supremely flattered that she knew my name.
3. A 25-year-old woman that also briefly ran for my team. She's small and intense and very talented. I'm sure she's still improving, so when I passed her, I felt sure I'd be seeing her again later in the race.

I'd decided not to wear gloves, so most of the race I had the mental distraction of having painfully cold hands. I kept shaking out my arms to try and get the blood flowing, which had the bizarre physiologic effect of sending a sharp "electric" shock up into my elbow. I hung in right behind woman 1. and tried to get her attention when she peeled off her gloves and tossed them to the side, but I was too late.

At the four mile mark I was at 6:22 pace and still feeling good. I don't know what was going on behind me, but my Aussie friend was starting to pull away. She was still in sight at five miles (6:24 pace), but since I was starting to feel tired, I let her go and focused on getting that Gu open and into me.

By mile six (6:25 pace), I had contact again and visualizing the sugar flowing into my blood stream, pumped out a 6:13 mile to put me on 6:23 pace at mile seven. It's always a little scary when you go by a strong competitor, but I figured that even if she picked up the pace, it could only help both of our times. With a mile and a half left, a guy on my team encouraged me to go after a young woman from another team that had suddenly appeared up ahead. I figured she must be slowing, so I worked on trying to slowly gain some ground on her. Problem was though that I was slowing too, or at least not speeding up. race
Assuming the mile markers were correct, I think I ran about seven minutes for that ninth mile, but I pulled it together for the last .3 and was pleased as pie to see I'd broken an hour, with half a minute to spare.

Former teammate 3. was, not shockingly, right behind me and 1. was just behind her. Local masters legend was back a few more places, but she ran a devastating 83.9% age graded performance percentage.

And last, but not least, I got into grad school, so my head's in a whirl right now, but it does seem like everything is coming together. Exciting times...


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