Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Rock n Roll Raleigh

I signed up for this race thinking it would make a good, hilly, supported last long run before Boston, and the plan was to run close to my marathon goal pace (7:45).

While waiting for the start, I ran into Emma, a lovely young woman who has joined our running group for a few training runs.  We ran the first 7 miles or so of the race together, chatting about many things, including Art for Hospice, the really great non-profit that she founded while only in middle school, and the upcoming Boston Marathon, which she was also preparing to run.  We were running a bit faster than I had planned (5K in 23:48, 10K in 47:58), but I was trying to focus on effort rather than pace, so I didn't worry about it too much.  It's pretty much all uphill from mile 6.5 to 8, and I slowed down with the goal of keeping my heart rate and effort level in check.  Around mile 7, the 1:40 pace group passed by and Emma decided to go with them so I was on my own.  Shortly after that, I ran through a crowd of spectators in Cameron Village, including Margaret and Ellen, who had made me another fabulous sign!

My watch beeped at the completion of mile 8 and flashed 8:01.  Not bad for me on a hill, and it would be the only 8 of the day.  I passed Monte and Alan, which gave me a nice little boost of energy.   was happy to see my speed increase and effort decrease as I coasted down Hillsborough St and back towards downtown Raleigh.  Monte and Alan were able to cut down to the Bell Tower to catch me at mile 9 before making the turn to Pullen Park. 

Things were going pretty well, and though I had slowed a little from my earlier pace, I just focused on running comfortably and not doing anything stupid before Boston.  By then it was starting to warm up, and the hill at mile 10.4 felt pretty challenging.  And then I passed a seemingly endless line of yard signs, each with the photos, names, ranks, and dates... scores of service men and women whose lives have been lost.  That military memorial really put things into perspective, and I teared up seeing how many signs there were.  After that there were dozens of volunteers holding American flags.  It was incredibly moving, as evidenced by the photo gallery on the Run to Remember page.  We then had another lovely view of the Raleigh skyline (this was definitely a picturesque route) before returning downtown.  I considered speeding up for the finish, but kept reminding myself that I would be running Boston in 8 days, so I just stuck to my steady pace until the watch hit 13, and my only burst of speed was running 6:16 pace for the last .16.  Finish time: 1:41:46, which is 7:44/mile and pretty darn close to my target of 7:45/mile!

After collecting my medal, a guy who'd be running off my shoulder for the last few miles thanked me for pacing him and we chatted for a bit.  Then I headed back over to the host hotel where they had the VIP lounge (thanks, SAS!).  There is a separate VIP gear check, so I grabbed my bag in about 2 seconds, changed into dry clothes, got a massage, and had a snack from the buffet before heading down to the finish line to cheer on some friends.  Heidi ran so fast that she broke the tape in the full marathon before I was back at the finish line, but I was able to see several friends, some who had just finished their first half marathon, which was awesome.

Definitely one of the coolest looking race shirts I've gotten (this is the back)
And a cool medal
All in all, things went according to plan, I didn't feel like I overexerted myself, the course was really scenic, I had company for a good bit of it, and I had a great experience.  I was, however, glad that I was just running at marathon goal pace and not trying to race this one - it was definitely hilly and was pretty warm by the end.  Given the proximity to my house, the fun atmosphere, and the scenic course, I will definitely keep this on my radar for next year. 

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