Buffalo Creek 1/2 Marathon:
This is the 3rd year for this trail 1/2 marathon, and I have done it the past two years. It is a GREAT race; pretty, well-supplied, with a nice cross-section of runners. http://www.buffalocreekhalfmarathon.com/index.html
I have been resting my quad for the past three weeks; the last time I ran was an easy 4 last Sunday. Have been trying to keep my fitness up through swimming, the cross trainer, and the exercise bike, but was really not sure how things were going to go today. I knew I had put the miles in during August/September, but October had been a challenge.
Yesterday I ended up picking DS#1 up from school due to stomach problems, but he felt better by the end of the day. We had a good pasta dinner, and got to bed by 10:00. Had a decent sleep, and woke up before the alarm (a good sign in my book) around 6:25. As I was getting ready I had that 'jumping out of my skin' feeling, which to me means I have some good energy. I had set the coffee maker up last night in an attempt to 'save time' this morning, and for some reason it didn't work. I ended up going without my morning coffee which is W-A-Y off my routine, but figured it might be the best thing due to recent race-day GI issues I've been having.
Got out of the house on schedule, and had an uneventful 1 hr. drive up to the Speedway where they have us park our cars. They bus runners to the start, and then back from the finish. For a small race (am going to estimate 500 people this year) the organization was GREAT! I ended up chatting with some folks who taught with a friend of mine, which was nice.
Got to the start, hit the porta-potty (business taken care of -- yea!) and did a 5 minute warmup. It was COLD 38 degrees at the start, predicted to be 43 at the finish, and a bit windy. I have to give a shout-out to the gals on the Ladies BQ training forum, as there was a great discussion last week about when to forgo the shorts in favor of capris. Well, I was right on the fence... sitting there at the start with my shorts on, and capris in hand. I almost changed, but figured I'd rather be chilly than hot, given the choice. Smart move.
At the start I recognized a women I had run a few miles of a 10k with last spring: she leaned back to her friend and said 'shall we go for a 1:30?'. Mental note: do NOT try and pace off her today. I had also run into a guy I met two years ago, and it was his 3rd year as well- it was good to see him and catch up on his year of running.
So- we started-- we had chips, but no mat at the start. I started about 10 seconds after the gun, and we were off. My goal was to run better than last year, (1:40:47), and was hoping the quad would hold up. I knew the start was going to be downhill, so wanted to keep the first mile around 7:20 or so. My REAL goal was to break 1:40, and I thought I needed a 7:40 pace to do so.
1st mile: 7:11-- oops-- too fast, but I knew this mile would be fast.
miles 2/3: A pack of people formed once we got onto the trail. I tucked in behind a fellow and his father?, I called him 'Vince Vaughn'. He was very tall, wearing bright yellow and black, and he seemed to be setting a good pace.
at this point I overhear 'Vince' say that his splits from his spring marathon were 1:34 and 1:38, so I figure I've GOT to slow it down a bit. I let the pack pull ahead a little bit.
4: 7:51-- just call me Goldilocks-- this mile too slow, this mile too fast...
I fell in with another runner during mile 5 who I would trade off with until the end of the race. He was so great! My strategy at this point was to keep 'Vince Vaughn' in sight, and to start reeling in his stragglers around mile 9. I was feeling really good at this point, no quad/IT issues!
5: 7:30 - during this mile I saw one of the funnier things I've ever seen while racing: two hunters in their bright orange came out of the woods and started walking on the trail. We all looked at each other as if the other was the crazy one! I did hear gunshots on the course as well.
6: 7:35 These two miles felt really good, I had tossed one layer, and was slightly freaking out about going too fast, but had a good pace, and my ''friend'' running with me. 'Vince' was still in sight ahead, but I could see his pack splitting up a bit. My strategy for these miles was to pick off one person ahead of me per mile.
7: 7:45 (water stop)
8: 7:50 -- alright, time to pick it up again. My 'friend' had gotten ahead of me a bit, and I started to push the pace again.
9-10: missed the 9M split, but these two miles were 15:27, so a bit slower than I wanted to be, but still in good range. I passed the 1:30 lady I saw at the start, and the older man 'Vince' was running with at the start. Vince was nowhere to be seen by now.
The last three miles I dedicated to my three guys: DH, and sons Tommy and Danny. Mile 10 was Danny's mile, b/c I knew it was going to be the hardest of the 3 mentally, and I'm always encouraging him when he says how hard things are. When I felt my pace slowing a bit, thinking of him kept me going. I had now caught up and passed my 'friend'.
12: 7:42 - Tommy's mile-- a good split at this point. During this mile I passed two other women, which was uplifting and helped keeping me focused on who was ahead of me, not behind me. My 'friend' had passed me again-- at this point we were chuckling to each other. When he passed me I said-- go get 'em, and he replied 'oh, I'm sure you'll pass me again!'.
The course now leaves the trail and goes up a road ramp, over a bridge and into the town of Sarver, PA. I dread this ramp, but this year it seemed shorter than I remember, which I guess is good. I knew I was going to be close to breaking 1:40, so was trying to haul azz as best as I could. The course goes down a street, turns left at mile 13, and the last .1 is parallel to the river. I had passed my buddy on the ramp, and was still looking ahead. At the 13 mile point, this guy just up ahead of me turned to me and starting yelling, encouraging me I guess. He was yelling-- go get it, how badly do you want this, pick it up, etc. He actually reminded me of a frenemy of DH's, so I gave it everything I had left at that point just to get him to shut up. Finished in 1:40:12, a PR by 30 seconds. 3rd in my AG.
The good: the quad felt good today, so I was really happy I rested it. The rest of my body felt strong, and I passed folks up until the end of the race. A PR is always good. Also, I qualified for NYC for next year...always good to have that in my pocket.
The bad: A KEY tactical error: I actually needed 7:38 pacing to get under 1:40. If I would have know this, I would not have freaked out mentally as much as I did with some of those faster splits. Am really pissed at myself for this, but know that breaking 1:40 is within my grasp.
The ugly: nothing. This is good.
On the bus ride back, my 'friend' from the race was sitting 2 rows in front of me. A class act, he introduced himself, and I found out his name was Dan-- another great Dan in the world.
So, ever my own worst critic, I am trying to be excited for the PR, and not beat myself up too much about those 12 crappy seconds. I'm sure I'll feel much better after a shower, and a glass of wine.
One of the favorite things I saw at this race was men/kids cheering on their moms/wives/girlfriends. So many times at sporting events you see women cheering on their men, and I spend a good deal of time doing that for my kids. It was great to see the women in action, and the great support given them by friends and family.
I am also constantly amazed at the running community at large: such nice, supportive, friendly people who as a whole, enjoy meeting new folks, and talking about running and sharing their experiences. Since I train by myself, these races are such a breath of fresh air for me.
All in all, a great day!