This past weekend was my first race of 2013 the Mid-Winter Classic in Cape Elizabeth. This race was a bit of an unknown going in, I had kept my long runs in the 10 mile range, and done some speed work and hill work here and there, but had only been really consistently training for the month leading up to the race. My 10 mile PR was in the 1:23 range, and I had my eyes on 1:19:59 but wasn’t sure I had that in me. I decided to take the same approach I took last year at the Great Bay Half Marathon, run relaxed for the first half, then start ratcheting up the pace in the second half.
It turns out that everyone in the world who I know was running or spectating at this race. The Gardiner Girls, Danielle and Sarah (both of which I haven’t seen enough of lately), most of the coaches from The Sustainable Athlete, and a bunch of my other friends. So I knew it was at least going to be a good time.
At the start I lined up near a couple of The Gardiner Girls, Carrie, Jen and her stupid fast (age group winning) husband, I figured they would be around my pace-ish so it was a good place to start. We were chatting away when the cannon went off and scared the crap out of me and we shuffled towards the starting line. Usually I take off way to fast at the start of races and explode in spectacular fashion, but there was enough of a crowed to keep my pace in check, I was feeling pretty relaxed but was moving along at a good clip, and fell in beside Carrie figuring she knew what she was doing. We chatted a little as we ran maneuvering around people and finding our place in the race. The first mile is mostly down hill but passed in a mere 7:53 which made me a bit nervous, but I wasn’t about to let Carrie leave me in the dust so I soldered on. Mile 2 things started going up hill, once again against my better judgment I let me male ego drag me up the hills with Carrie, keeping a straight face and trying not to look like I was dying.
By mile 3 things started to level out and I started to get in a grove, staying relaxed and hitting right around 8 minute miles. Around here is where Carrie started to fade a bit, and I repaid her for pulling me up the hills by leaving her to her own devices, I’m selfish like that. After a short while I spotted a Sustainable Athlete jacket up ahead and soon enough I was running with my friend Bill. he was obviously not running fast enough as he was casually chatting with anyone who would listen about anything he could think of. I listened to him and his friends chat away for about two miles until the second aid station, where I took a small cup of Gatoraid and started pushing the pace a little.
This was unknown territory for going this fast for a race of this distance, but I had been feeling good ticking of the 8 min miles, so I gave it some more effort and started reeling people in. Mile 6 7:25, uh oh… maybe that was a little to ambitious, but I kept going let’s see what we’ve got. Mile 7 7:44, that’s closer to reality, but only 3 miles left, it’s go time.
After mile 7 I really let myself go, I was feeling good and I can get through a 5K at this point without a problem. Then I saw Jen up ahead in the distance, no slowing down now. I slowly reeled her in and was hitting low 7 min miles on my GPS when I went by her (no I’m not competitive, why?). She yelled something disparaging about my mother (apparently she is not competitive either) and I just waved and continued on my way pretending not to be working hard. Then the course started to take an uphill turn into the wind and I started to pay for the hills with Carrie and blowing by Jen… But with only 2 miles left, I was giving it everything I had, and started trying to draft as best I can off my fellow runners. I was just starting to fade, when I came around an uphill corner and saw Danielle and Sarah jumping and cheering. This did wonders for me and my stupid male ego and I gave it some more gas.
Shortly after I had passed them I recognized the last hill from my preview of the course a month or so ago, I knew I had less then a mile to go so I just put my head down and pushed. The last bit of the race is downhill and I gave it everything I had in my attempt to break 1:20, and when I rounded the final curve and saw the clock I knew I had it. 1:18:31.
This was way better then I had expected, and it makes me very optimistic for the rest of 2013. 10 miles averaging under 8 min miles bodes very well for me setting a PR on a nice flat half marathon course in about a month.