Today's race was not the best that I've ever had, but it was also not the worst. Starting with the good:
- I ran 1:00:39, setting a new PR for the distance by over 3 minutes.
- I also set a 10k PR in the first 10k of the race: 37:19 (old PR, 37:23 set last March).
- According to my Garmin, I ran 6:00 pace for the 10.10 mile course: right on pace.
Now for the bad and ugly:
- Windy conditions made for a tough first 4-5 miles, and I had no buffalo to draft off of. My Swiss frame came in handy for my teammate who tucked in behind me until mile 5 where she took off and ended up winning the race. Smart girl.
- Mile marker 9 greeted me with a side stitch that felt like a buffalo was goring me (photo documentation provided above), and this had me hunching over to keep from hyperventilating. Batty can attest to the look of misery on my face as I passed her just as this was hitting. Her cheering kept me pushing through it.
- My right calf seized up after the race during my 10 mile cool down, and I felt it the whole way home. However, I quickly forgot about the calf when my sloshy belly conjured the return of my side stitch in miles 19-22. Pain competition among body parts is quite a thrill to behold.
So, when this stitch hit at mile 9, I was bummed out. I was having a good race up until then. I started out at a reasonable 5:58 pace for the first few miles. My teammate caught me after the first mile and stuck right to my tail. It was good to have someone pushing from behind, but it would have been nice to have someone blocking the wind in the front. I believe we were headed directly into about 10 mph headwinds for at least half of the race, but the temperatures were perfect. I lost my teammate when she pulled ahead just before the turn around at some unspecified point in the race, and she put about 15 seconds on me just like that. I only saw a total of 4 mile markers the whole race at miles 1, 2, 3 and 9. I'm having a hard time deciding whether that was good or bad. It did make me rely on my Garmin a lot more for my pacing, and, of course, it showed I was right on target pace at 6:00 the whole way.
I had some mantras flying around today that seemed to work pretty well. Batty had a cross country race yesterday in Golden Gate Park where I volunteered, and she told me about a few of her mantras that she uses. The one I used today was, "rock n' roll, you're in control." It worked for a little bit. I started feeling strong right around where I imagine mile 7 would have been, and I started a new internal chant, "Don't count me out yet. Don't count me out." I started gaining on my teammate. I was closing the gap! I saw Batty cheering. I saw the mile 9 marker. Then, wham: that's when the steeotch hit. I was very proud of myself for hanging in there in that last mile where I lost about 15 seconds to the stitch. Oh, how I wanted to stop and walk it off!
I am going to get certain Buffalo Chips all lathered up for saying this, but after the Race for the Arts 5J experience, I feel a special obligation to report on race distance. This race is notoriously long and today, just like in 2007 and 2008 when I ran it, it came in at 10.10 miles. Others reported Garmin readings of 10.08-10.11. I did everything possible today including running in the center lane to try to run the shortest possible route, and I still came up with 10.10. I have to say that I go into this race knowing it will be long. The race organizers, after all, don't have an obligation to make it shorter. They just have to make sure that it is not too short. I am not complaining here, just stating the facts.
On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, I sit here with a cup of Joe, a belly full of sushi and my calves happily swaddled in their compression casings feeling pretty happy with the day's 22 miles and the end of another 80+ mile training week on the road to the Twin Cities Marathon. Congratulations to all of the fierce buffaloes getting it done out there today!