Since this was a charity race, I figured there would be a lot of people running more for the cause and less for time, so I tried to position myself pretty close to the front.
I'm somewhere on the left (Source)
I took off with the people around me when the race started. Remember that strategy of starting around 7:50 and working my way down? Didn't happen. About .25 into the race I looked down at my Garmin and saw 6:45. Oops! I immediately threw on the brakes knowing that it wasn't likely a sustainable pace for me. I'm sure some people would argue that I should have just gone with it and seen what happened, but I really didn't want to blow up halfway. As a result, a ton of people went flying past me, but it was definitely the right move. I hit the one mile marker right about the time my Garmin beeped, but as the number of turns increased, it got farther and farther ahead.
Mile 1 - 7:34 (7:40)
I left autolap on since it was a smaller race and I wasn't sure how well the miles would be marked. I've taken the "extra" time (27 sec) and evenly distributed it between the miles to get a general sense of my actual splits. That's the time in parenthesis. For the purpose of this experiment, I'm also ignoring the fact that this race was actually 4.97 miles and not 5.
Mile 2 included the only hill of the course as well as two hairpin turns as we went up towards Union Station, went up and back on 2 blocks of 1st street, turned around and headed back down 3rd St. and past the mall. This mile ended on a very nice downhill, hence the fastest split of the race.
Mile 2 - 7:25 (7:31)
There was a water stop just past the two mile marker that I skipped because I was focused on trying to maintain my pace and not slow down. Miles 3 & 4 blurred together for me. We went back towards L'Enfant Plaza and then did a long out and back on Independence (and hit the third hairpin turn). I distracted myself on Independence by counting the number of women ahead of me. I counted 15, which is definitely the closest I have ever been to the front of a race! After Independence we got back on 3rd St and hit the mile 4 marker right before turning back onto Pennsylvania Ave.
Mile 3 - 7:35 (7:40)
Mile 4 - 7:31 (7:36)
It was then a straight shot back down Pennsylvania Ave to the finish, with a one block out and back on 11th St. (and the final hairpin turn). Early on in this mile a woman went flying past me. I tried to keep up with her and in general I was hoping to have more left in the tank to drop the pace at this point, but I just didn't seem to have that next gear. I focused on staying as close to 7:30 pace as possible and keeping up with the men just ahead of me. When I came back onto to Pennsylvania Ave after the out and back on 11th (final hairpin turn!), there were only two blocks left and I was able to sprint in to the finish.
Mile 5 - 7:30 (7:35)
Final time - 38:02 (7:39 pace)
I was the 18th woman and 8th in my (10 year) age group.
I didn't exactly follow my own race plan, but I'm still very happy with how this race went. I think that if I had started a bit slower, I probably would have been able to pick it up a bit more at the end. But I certainly can't complain about the relatively even splits that I ran. A good reminder, though, that I have to start the marathon at a reasonable pace. Starting faster than planned doesn't have all that many consequences for 5 miles, but could be a real problem for 26.2. It was a good race and left me feeling confident heading into the final two weeks of taper!