On Saturday, I ran one of my favorite races, the Great Allegany Run 15k. I've done this race a number of times in the past*. The past two years I paced my mom in the race and had a blast. This year she was unable to run due to plantar fasciitis. Her foot is starting to feel better and she has run a few times in the past week but she wasn't ready to tackle 15k just yet. I decided I was going to run this race and try to PR it! I did a google search to see what my times in previous years had been to see what I had to do. My fastest time ever was in 2009 with a time of 1:17.27. I had a time to beat. My goals were to PR and to see how close to an 8 minute pace I could get.
Pre-race: I woke up at 6:30 and got dressed and ate cereal for breakfast. We left the house around 7:15 for the 8am start. My parents dropped me off at the 15k start and headed downtown so my dad could get ready for the 5k race. I immediately ran into an old friend (used to be one of my brother's best friends and his dad sort of got me into running and helped coach me through high school) and talked with him for a bit before the start. I hit up the one port-o-let without even waiting in line (very small race... only about 100 participants this year). At about 5 til, I headed to the start line.
Stat to 5k: 7:47, 7:57, 7:51 (5k split - ~24:26) It was about 60 degrees but quite humid (100% according to my garmin connect stats) at the start but I was feeling good. The first mile has the steepest downhill and I always try to reign myself in a little and not go out too fast. I fell in with a group of about 10 people and just tried to keep my own pace. Two women who were likely in my age group were coming up behind me. The split up for a bit with one pacing with me for the first few miles and the other ran up ahead.
5k to 10k: 7:58, 7:56, 7:59 (10k split - ~49:06 (10k PR)) I was still feeling pretty good. The girl who had been pacing with me dashed off ahead to catch up with her friend. She passed her friend and around the 6 mile water stop, I did too. I passed a few people during this stretch and had a few others, mostly guys, pass me. I looked at my watch at the 10k mark and was amazed at my 10k PR during a race. It was around this time that the sun came out from behind the clouds and was directly in front of me blaring down on my face.
10k to 15k: 8:26, 8:25, 8:37, 6:56 (15k overall - 1:15:36) The wheels had come off a bit and I was feeling pretty run down. The sun was intense and I felt like I was going to puke during a lot of the last 5k. I kept trying to will my legs to run faster and to just keep going. I thought about all the stuff I'd done this week - 28 mile bike ride, kayaking twice, hiking up a mountain... and how stupid it was to do those things with a race coming up. All those activities were worth it but my thighs were burning as a result. And I got a cramp in my back under my shoulder blade around mile 5 when I tried unsuccessfully to high five a kid sitting on the curb. I blame that on the kayaking. Anyway, I was feeling pretty rough but I kept pushing through. The last three miles are flat with a decent hill in the last mile. I got to the 8 mile marker water stop and paused for a few seconds to down a cup of water. About that time, a guy came up behind me sounding pretty fresh and encouraged me to keep going. I told him the fun part, the hill, was up ahead. He assured me it wasn't a big deal and I told him of course, it was a piece of cake. I pushed up the hill expecting him to pass me but he never did. The friend I saw in the beginning of the race was out on his bike (he was just spectating the race) and he cheered me on! I pushed with everything I had left and my parents were standing at the 9 mile marker. Just 0.3 left! My dad tried to run with me and told me how he did in his race. I waved him off because I felt like throwing up and him talking to me made it worse (sorry, dad). I also kind of laughed to myself thinking that there was no way he could keep up with me after finishing his 5k. I saw the photographer and tried to ham it up** a little without slowing down... in fact I think the photographer made me speed up! I thought the clock read 1:16:xx when I rounded the corner but I was wrong... as I approached I saw 1:15:xx and sprinted it in! I finished in 1:15:36 and was so proud of my effort!
My mom was waiting at the finish and told me she had to sprint from the 9 mile marker to the finish line to make sure she was there in time! I headed straight for the water table and drank a few cups of water, lemonade, and orange electrolyte drink (no idea what brand it was). Then I smelled oranges and realized they were handing those out as well!! Usually it's just coffee and donuts at this race so apples and oranges were a nice addition. Unfortunately the oranges weren't cut so my mom volunteered to peel it for me. I shared the orange with her and then ate my donut and chased it with some tasty coffee.
While they were handing out the 5k awards (my dad placed 2nd in his AG!!), I headed over to check out the 15k results they posted. This year the age groups were done in 10 year increments. Usually, when I'm not pacing my mom, I can place in my AG... not this year with the larger groups. Apparently the female 30-39 group is really competitive. I placed 6th out of 20 in my age group but I beat the fist place male 20-29 runner... he was the guy who caught up to me at mile 8 and I managed to stay ahead of...
Despite not winning an age group award, I was completely thrilled with my race performance. I mean, it definitely would have been nice to maintain the 8 minute or better pace I had during the first 10k but ending with an 8:08 pace was still pretty awesome.
The race also offers free photos so I've included a few of the better ones in this report.
*Plus in 2008 when I had another blog that has since been deleted.
** and by 'ham it up' I mean I tried to smile and look strong. Usually the photographer is on the last stretch to the finish line and I'm always too focused on sprinting it in to look anywhere close to halfway decent.