Since this was a St. Patricks Day race, I took more care in planning my outfit than I normally do. It was clearly very important to wear as much green as possible. I was so excited earlier in the week when I saw the weather forecast for Saturday - a high in the upper 50s. I decided that I would definitely be wearing shorts. I was also planning on wearing some type of green socks. I had some knee socks from Target that I was all set to wear, until I heard about a BuyWithMe City Sports deal on Thursday. $20 for $40 worth of merchandise. This was all the incentive I needed to FINALLY purchase the lime green CEP socks that I have been coveting for months. I stopped by City Sports on Friday after work and fortunately they had my size, so the last piece of my outfit fell into place!
Unfortunately, when I woke up on Saturday, it was in the upper 30s. With predicted temperatures in the low 40s at race time. I was committed to the shorts, but debated switching to a long sleeve shirt or adding arm warmers to my outfit. I had the sleeves on when my brother showed up at my apartment (he was running the race too - love family runs!), but when I saw he was wearing just a t-shirt, and we discussed how it seemed to be warming up quickly, I decided to leave them behind. This was perhaps not the wisest decision I have ever made (at least for pre- and post-race comfort). We got up to the start area about 25 minutes before the race and I was very cold while waiting around.
I knew I couldn't keep up with my brother so we split up almost immediately after crossing the start line. I was hoping to keep him in my sights for a while since I was trying to finish only a few minutes behind him, but that's not very easy when almost everyone in the race is wearing the same color. I focused on moving my legs quickly on the downhill and wasn't too worried about pace. I let gravity do its thing and worked on weaving around other runners to find some open space. At one point I narrowly missed stepping into a giant pothole and was much more focused on scanning the ground after that! I was happy to note that there was a flat section in the middle of the hill (2-3 blocks long) and knew that it would be crucial on the way back up!
We came off the downhill right around the one mile mark. That's right, despite all of my complaining about how the race was 2 miles downhill and 2 miles straight back up, it really was 1 mile down, 2 miles of more or less flat and 1 mile back up. I tried to push it and keep a "comfortably" hard pace over the flat section. I realized how much I have advanced as a runner recently during this part of the race when my Garmin told me that I was running in the 7:55-8:05 mile range. To be honest, I still have a hard time believing it. Even just a few months ago this is a pace that I would have thought was well beyond my capabilities, and now it is "comfortably hard."
The flat 2 miles passed all too quickly and before I knew it I was headed back up the hill. The first section was the steepest and just tried to keep up my turnover and make it to the flat section. Once I got there, it was tempting to relax a bit, but I knew that this was where I needed to get my pace back down. Then I got to the second part of the hill and there was only about 0.2 left so I really tried to kick it in to the finish. I'm not sure that I really got all that much of a kick, but I managed to pass a few people, so I feel like I did!
Final time - 32:24. Going into the race, I had no idea how the hill would affect my pace and decided I would be happy as long as I finished under 36:00 and kept my average pace under 9:00. So I was thrilled with the results. I know this strong run of races (and PRs) will end at some point, but I'm going to enjoy it while it lasts and see how long I can keep surprising myself!
And the killer uphill? Not quite as bad as I was expecting! It certainly wasn't easy, but I felt pretty strong on the way up and even managed to pass a few people. It also really helped me mentally to have that short flat stretch in the middle.
Post-race I found my brother, as well as my friends G & C, and we enjoyed a hard-earned post-race beer. I opted for Guinness and it tasted great! Then it was home for a hot shower and lounging on the couch. An excellent way to start a Saturday.
*spaghetti pizza - a food so amazing that it probably deserves a rambling post about its greatness