Today, I ran my first race since the famous walnut incident. The 33rd annual Cincinnati Heart Mini-Marathon, a 15k race. My goal was to run a 1:28:30, which is a 9:30 pace. I felt that I could do that, assuming the weather cooperated.
The weather this morning was, however, questionable. The report showed about 48 degrees with rain and wind. I bounced back and forth between short and my tights. I was really only concerned about the rain. I went with the shorts, but also took my rain jacket. I figured that would keep my core warm enough and the rain off of me.
The race started at 8:00 AM on the nose. I was running with my friends Victoria and Traci, and there were others around all the time as well. It took us about 5 minutes to cross the start line as the crowd was pretty large. Now, if you’ve not run the race, it’s a rolling course with a few good size hills. The first mile is about 50%/50%, with the middle half mile being all up hill. As it turns out, we were way to fast for the first mile: 8:48. Oh well, nothing I can do about that now.
Laps two, three, and four went by fairly quickly. I did, however, have to carry my jacket and hat. It was still warm with no rain, only some wind gusts in our face. Miles two, three and four were 9:33, 9:25, and 9:29. Dead on pace.
Right before turn around we were looking for our coach, Wayne. Wayne, as my two loyal readers will know, is a machine. He’s 70 and has never run over a 3:59:59 for a marathon. Unfortunately, he’s been having some ankle tendonitis issues. Today, he was worried about his hamstring, and with good reason evidently. We saw Wayne at about mile 4.25, walking on the right hand side. We checked in on him and he said “Hamstring…BAD!!!” Wayne is a true warrior so I know that it was killing him to walk. But, I also knew that he’d finish the race.
The turn for the heart mini is at the bottom of a hill. When you turn, you go up a fairly steep hill for about 200 yards. Then, it’s another half mile slow climb. That was a difficult climb, as I was getting tired and found carrying my jacket a pain in the ass. Mile five and six were, again, right in line 9:35 and 9:34. Then the hard part… Torrance.
Torrance is the part of the course that nobody likes. It’s about a 100 foot climb in one tenth of a mile. Hard…and I’m ok with saying that I walked about half of it. I lost Traci and Victoria at that point. Luckily, Traci had grabbed my jacket out of my hand and tied it around her waist for me. Thanks again Traci. I did run the last part of that hill and then recovered coming back down. Mile 6 was still good: 9:34. Unfortunately, that walking hurt my time in mile 7: 10:23 for the mile. But, really not that bad.
By the 10k mark I was feeling tired. I also had lost my pacer in Victoria and Traci. So, now it was all about mental toughness. So, that’s what I focused on. Staying tough and keeping the pace. Mile 8 is another slow climb and I had to stay focused. I did well in mile 8: 9:42.
Then came the killer: the last hill up the bridge back into downtown. It’s actually two hills with a small down hill in the middle. The first hill is about 40 feet in under two tenths of a mile. The second is 55 feet in one tenth. I walked the first and when I started the second, I talked a lady walking next to me into running it. I needed the motivation and so did she, I hope. The pace took another hit on mile 9: 10:32.
At the top of the hill you get a great downhill. About 65 feet over a quarter mile. That was a nice recovery and I actually picked up the pace for that section. Then the last three tenths are a slight up hill. It doesn’t look bad but at the end of a race, it was. I finished the last three tenths in 3:40, which is an 8:32 pace. Not bad considering I was just about done.
My final time: 1:30:45, which is a 9:46 pace. I missed my goal time by 3:15. But, I broke my previous PR in the 15k by 2:08. I’ll take that considering 6 months ago my doctor didn’t know if I’d ever run again. Looking forward to the Pig in May.