Saturday morning I got up early, even though the race didn't start until 8:00. I had some coffee and a power bar and at 6:30 I jogged the .75 miles down to the start/finish area in Bushnell Park for the weigh in required for award-eligibility in the athena division (for women 150+). The temperature was a little under 30 degrees, and I worried that I would freeze but it actually didn't feel that bad and I warmed up pretty quickly even on my short jog. After weigh-in I went back to our hotel, drank some water with nuun, and did a little stretching.
We waited as long as possible in the hotel, and jogged down to the start line about 20 minutes before 8. Got into the seeded corral without any problems, and it was much less crowded than the rest of the 13,000+ field, so that was nice. My goal for the day was to try to run a 1:35, or about 7:15 pace. I figured this would be comparable to the PR of 1:34:16 that I set last fall, since that course was all downhill and flat and this was more rolling. I thought that might be a struggle though, because I've been doing more distance training and less speed work than I was last year when my A race was a half marathon rather than a full. But after the disappointing race I had at the XC festival, I decided I had to just go for it, and if my legs fail me then so be it; but I was determined to not let mental weakness get the best of me this time around.
After the anthem, the corral moved up and we were off. I tried not to get carried away and go out too fast, but the garmin beeped for the first mile split and I looked down to see 6:51. Oops. I slowed a little, deciding to see what would happen if I kept the pace closer to 7 than the 7:15 I'd planned. Normally for a race that long, I would try to pace "comfortably hard" but after the last disappointing race I realized I needed to just suck it up and take the "comfortable" part out of the equation and embrace the discomfort.
The course was slightly rolling, with no major hills, and I just concentrated on the people in front of me, my form, and maintaining my pace. I honestly remember very little about the course, which is unlike me... I guess I really was focused on the run this time! Since 7 minute miles is my 10k pace and not my half marathon pace (or so I thought), I was sort of waiting to hit a wall or have the wheels come off. But it never happened. I just kept moving along, focusing on one mile at a time and all of a sudden I had made it 10 miles in 71 minutes. What?! I could see the Hartford skyline coming back into view and tried to pick it up a little. That didn't work, but I also wasn't slowing down. Once we made the final turn, I could see 1:32 on the clock and gave what I could to get in under 1:33. Stopped the garmin at 1:33:03 for a 13.22 miles, averaging 7:02 and I really couldn't believe it.
I made my way through the finish chute and met Monte, who had just missed my finish because I was ahead of the schedule I'd given him. I went over to the results tent where you could type in your number for results and it came up 1:32:00. The wheelchair athletes had started before us, so I thought maybe that was the difference from the finish clock time and the computer time. It turns out that the computer was just wrong, and the official results have me listed as finishing in 1:33:01. Of course I wish I could have gotten in 2 seconds faster, but it is still over a minute off my PR and I honestly could not be happier. I didn't feel horrible, but I also pushed myself outside of my comfort zone and am really pleased with my effort. What a difference a few weeks can make!
Erika also had a great race, running well under her 2 hour time goal to finish in 1:51! I am hoping at some point she'll get hooked like I am and we can race together more often :)
Official time: 1:33:01
1st place, Athena division
10 / 534 F30-34
35 / 3324 Female
228/ 5953 Overall