Phew! I'm glad that's over (results).
I had been dreading this race for some time now (pretty much since the day I signed up). The jump up is I haven't exactly been in a happy place (with regards to my running) for some time now. Training has been work and not fun. I can't quite put my finger on it, I'm not injured but I don't feel quite right. I've been in a funk. Period.
The long run, which I used to love, has been non-existent. New Bedford would be my longest run of the year. No kidding. Not exactly the type of statement that instills confidence!
So standing at the start line I could honestly say I had no idea what pace I was going to run My plan was to run comfortably at the start and not worry about any other runner. I really really really wanted to avoid a death march at the end if at all possible. The first couple of miles can be kind of fast since it's both the start of the race and slightly downhill. I was quite happy to see my first two splits (6:15 & 6:22), probably about 20-30 seconds slower than previous years, but more importantly it felt like a pace I could hold for a while.
Miles 3 and 4 are typically a bit slower since they both include a few hills. Denis T went by me in the 3rd mile and Rich Lavers joined for a bit during this stretch. My pace dropped a bit (6:28 & 6:31) but considering the hills, I can't really complain about the pace. The long, gentle downhill section from 4 to 7 did not seem as fast as previous years (6:09, 6:14 & 6:15). I think it was a combination of running a lot of it solo (no packs of runners to pull me along) and some sort of wind (either cross wind or head wind, hard to tell). I had stopped checking my watch after the 2nd mile or so and was running on feel alone, trying to keep the effort consistent. Looking back I think I may have held up a bit too much (trying to make sure I didn't blow up at the finish). No big deal. After all, I wasn't exactly going for a PR today, just trying to get some confidence back.
I was still feeling pretty good by mile 8 (6:19) but knew the wind would be an issue over the next few miles along the water. The 9th mile has generally been my slowest mile in each of my previous 3 attempts here. Mile 9 is totally exposed and there always seems to be a headwind. No different this year (6:37), followed by a 6:25 in the 10th mile. Ugh. Do we ever get a tail wind on this course????
Finally, as we made the turn away from the water and headed into the 11th mile (6:16), a tail wind! Joy joy joy!!! It was a little too late since parts of mile 12 and mile 13 make up the last significant hill on the course. A tailwind going uphill just doesn't cut it. Doesn't hurt though! For the first time all day I really felt like I was pushing the pace (6:08 & 6:16). This was no longer a comfortable pace, it was getting hard but the finish was near. The 6:08 12th mile, uphill, would be my fastest mile all day. There would be no death march today!
A bit of a sprint to the finish (to make sure I got under 1:23) and I was done, with a very respectable 1:22:53 finish. No complaints today. I was very happy I was able to finish quite strong and not fade at the end.This was not a 'leave everything out on the course' type of race, it was more of a 'don't do something stupid and make a fool of yourself out there' type of race. Just what I needed.