Before the longer story, I’ll cut to the chase now…wasn’t my best (2nd best, actually), but thankfully not my worst.
So even though I hadn’t really tapered for this thing, I was trying to stay hopeful that I could bust out a good one. The room number in the hotel I was staying at was a sign…room number 724-and isn’t a 1:37 half 7:24 pace? (1:37 is the open standard for a qualifying time for NYCM/NYC Half…the latter being a little more important to me as I’d like to run that one again and the only way I will get in is to qualify on time!) So did the usuals the day before the race…hit up the expo (spotted Kara Goucher at the Nutrilite booth-we passed on getting an autograph as the line was too long) and dinner at Buca di Beppo (almost a reservation snafu, but got it sorted out!) Then time to put out the clothes for the next morning (including folding over my bib so the “Rock ‘n’ Roll Philly Half” wasn’t showing, that bib was way too damn big!) And had to decide on shoes…was debating between the Launches and the Adioses, but decided to take a chance with the latter, paired with my black CEP compression socks (the hot pink ones would have clashed 🙂 )
Got up, had my usual bagel w/ white chocolate PB and coffee, got dressed, hydrated, and everything, walked over to the start (a mile from our hotel)…and when I stepped outside, was greeted by some very nice racing weather…great, guess I have no excuses 😛 After checking bags, Flyer GW (my traveling companion) went to do a warmup, I had to take care of other business and stretch a little bit more before heading to the corrals. Headed to corral 2 this year…moving on up in the world!! Was joined shortly by GW and JJ, another Flyer. JJ said he was just gonna run this at marathon pace so I thought “OK guess I need to stay ahead of him.” National Anthem, then the first corral and elites were off. Then time to move us up…and I didn’t go anywhere near the timing mats until we were allowed to go-learned from my mistakes at the Corporate Challenge 😉
So another clean start, this staggered start system that Philly has used the last coupla years has worked well. Settled in right away. GW pulled ahead, as did JJ…now I didn’t know if this meant that I was going slower than hoped, or that just like last year’s Scotland 10K, he wasn’t really gonna stick to marathon pace 😛 Anyway, the mile 1 split sort of put the concerns to rest.
And the next 3 miles wove through Center City. I was keeping consistent, and actually wasn’t too far off from my opening mile splits last time I ran this race…but today, was feeling more like work than it did 2 years ago. Not that I went out too fast, but just that I was gonna have to fight for this one. There was a guy who was pacing with me through this part…unfortunately lost him a little after mile 4. Not surprising, he said he wanted to run 1:30-1:35…
So after passing by the start/finish was a little bit of new territory for me. The last 2 times I ran this race, we ran out on MLK Drive and back on Kelly Drive to the finish. Starting last year, the course was reversed. OK, may not be a bad thing, means that hill at mile 13 will actually be a downhill this time? 🙂 But dammit, a sidestitch crept up in mile 5. It went away after I grabbed water, but resurfaced during mile 7. After that, I knew I was gonna have to take fluids more than I normally have in a half. And I was feeling sort of under-fueled too…my gel boost in mile 8 could not have come soon enough.
And mile 8 was my first (and thankfully only) mile in the 7:40s…I thought “oh no you don’t.” I’m not sure what I could salvage with this race, but at least I want to avoid feeling like roadkill like I had in Brooklyn. Where’s the Falls Bridge, and the turn to the finish? Ah there it is, mile 9. One more mile, and I can try and pick it up to the finish. Which I did for mile 11, but 12 and 13 were struggles-though I was still passing people! And there was something with the camber of the road that was aggrevating my right side. Finally, I could see the mile 13 marker but not the finish! Oh wait…they got rid of one hill and swap it for something shorter and steeper. But once I crested that, the finish was in sight and gave it all I had…oh damn won’t be getting under 1:40 on the clock…haul ass and you can finish under 1:39…finished…1:38:58. Glad that’s over!
Got my medal and a picture and gathered up whatever goodies they have after the finish. Found GW and JJ afterwards…both had PRed. In fact, seemed like everyone I knew who ran that day (lotsa local NYC team peeps made the trip out) had PRed…ugh, what could have been. Thank god for the MGD 64 beer tent to numb things a little.
So I have mixed emotions about my race. On one hand, I’m definitely glad to get under 1:40 again, shows that 2009’s race was not a fluke. And hey, if I was still able to run under 1:40 on tired legs, what could I have done had I been tapered? Yeah…definitely wonder what could have been if I was able to race it. But have to take it for what it is-a tuneup for NYCM. (And good learning with regards to hydration and fueling and how much I need.) Maybe I’ll give it a 2nd go in Staten Island, maybe I’ll just use that as a pace run-we’ll see how I’m feeling in 3 weeks. In terms of race predictions, McMillan sez 3:28:43…and I usually add 10 minutes for the NYCM hills…so 3:38. Not quite where I want to be…guess I have my work cut out for me in the next 7 weeks! 🙂