Kelly had registered for the race, but decided to run it leisurely. I claimed her as my pacer (after all my race pace is comfortable pace for her) and we chatted and kept things easy the first few miles.
Mile 1 - 9:23
Not sure if it nerves, my double inhaler shot (yes, my breathing has been that bad these past few weeks), or just my natural inclination to go out too fast, but we had to work to temper our pace. The most daunting hill is in mile 2, and we decided to walk up most of it. Those running around us weren't gaining much more ground than us, and the walk kept our heart rates nice and low.
Mile 2 - 10:04
With the toughest part behind us, we started chatting about goal pace. Thanks to an illness and my inability to truly race last year, my PR time was from this race 2 years ago. To meet my first goal of a new record, we'd have to beat 1:31:13 (a 9:47 pace). Since the first 2 miles balanced out to meet this pace, the remaining 7.3 would just have to be slightly faster.
Mile 3 - 9:06
The downhill part of the 3rd mile was fast, despite our attempts to conserve. The next few miles, however, felt mostly up hill both ways.
Mile 4 - 9:46
The course is a lollipop, and the "stick" starts in the third mile and continues through the 7th. Kelly kept saying "at least we'll get this uphill back at the turn" and she was right, kinda.
Mile 5 - 9:37
The miles were rolling more than anything. The downhills mostly just allowed a moment to catch my breath before starting the up again. I carried my handheld water bottle, but Kelly walked through the aid stations (catching up with me on the other side easily enough).
Mile 6 - 9:20
My favorite part of this race is the country roads and scenery of the race. At one point we ran along side a field of horses. They took off in a run and Kelly chased after them. She only beat them because they paused long enough to look at her like she was crazy. They were right.
Mile 7 - 9:39
I really wanted to turn on the juice just after the 7 mile marker, but I had forgotten at the hills still up ahead. At least at this point I knew I didn't have to save up anything for a strong finish.
Mile 8 - 9:32
In the final mile, we picked up the pace in the 8s. I panicked that I wouldn't be able to hold pace through the remaining mile plus, so we took brief walk break then hit the home stretch hard.
Mile 9 - 9:04
I didn't have much of a kick left in me, but the last tenth of a mile (or less) I kicked it in high gear for a strong finish.
Final 0.4 - 8:56
Chip Time: 1:29:06
Age Group: 3/3
I told Kelly we'd share my 3rd place water bottle since she helped me earn it. Turns out, there were only 3 people in my age group. Which makes the award kinda a bummer. But whatevs.
After the award ceremony we goofed around for some pictures. She and Gretchen had stayed at my house the night before (between getting in bed after midnight and being up early to work registration, we got less than 4 hours sleep!)
From beginning to end, this race encompassed what I love about running. Good friends, pushing myself (but not too much), meeting my goals, and having a good time.
Oh yeah, and it was a PR by 2 minutes and 7 seconds!