This Saturday I had the pleasure of pacing Jen Dixon at the Tar Hell (typo but it stays) 10 Miler. It seems that every year we're out of town for this race, so this year I signed up even though I knew I'd be running Boston only 5 days before... primarily for the Duke Crash the Party shirt. I suggested that we could run it together, Jen agreed, and the goal was to run faster than what she'd finished in last year (1:24:59). I knew this wouldn't be a problem for her, and figured based on her recent half marathon at 8 minute/mile pace, we should definitely be able to break 80 minutes for the 10 miler. According to the McMillan calculator, her predicted 10 mile race time was 1:18:20, which is 7:50/mile. So I had no doubts that she could set a big PR, but I did have some doubts about my ability to function as a good pacer on legs that were still a bit sore from Monday's marathon.
A group of us met at my house at 6:15 to carpool to the race, and we arrived just in time to use the bathroom, run to bag check, run back around the stadium to the start line, duck under the rope as they played the national anthem, and take off.
My plan was to start off with a conservative mile or two, settle in around 7:45, hang on through Laurel Hill, and hopefully finish strong with Jen getting a nice PR. Given the course layout, this seemed like a pretty good plan.
There was a bit of weaving through the early, crowded portion of the race and my watch went a bit crazy as we ran through a few tunnels, but we crossed the 2 mile marker just under 16 minutes. The next miles went by in 7:51, 7:33, 7:40, 7:47, 7:44, and 7:46... just as planned. Jen was doing great, my quads were a little sore but functioning better than expected, and we had some fun running by Monte at the 7.5 mile mark (having the photographer at the end of a long hill is always helpful).
Then came Laurel Hill, which I knew would feel long and difficult, and we tried to just keep up a good effort without worrying about our pace too much. That mile ended up as a 8:23 and we were still ahead of the 8:00 pacers, so I knew we had the sub-80 in the bag. We were able to get back on pace coming down Laurel Hill and ran the last mile in 7:38 to finish in 1:18:23 (7:50 pace). I guess McMillan is pretty accurate! I was really pleased with how my legs responded in my first real run since Boston, but most of all I was thrilled to have run with Jen as she took over 7 minutes off the 10 mile PR that she set on the same course last year.
After a 90 minute ride on the trainer, Jeannelle, Monte and I headed down to Raleigh for the Boston Memorial Run. This was a really nice and well-attended free event, and we were happy to drive down to Moore Square to show our support. After meeting up with some BCTC friends, we joined hundreds of other runners for a nice out and back three mile jog. It has been great to see how people around the country and in the running community everywhere have come together in support of Boston and the Boston Marathon. It has been less than a week, but it has been a long, exhausting one, and I am glad I was able to end it on this note.