|The weather all weekend was awful. Rain yesterday with occasional downpours. I had pretty much decided that I wasn't going to participate in this race. But then I woke up this morning at 6 am to walk the dog. No rain. It was pretty chilly, but no sign of rain.
I busied myself with trying to figure out what to wear. I still don't have a lot of clothes, and almost no cold weather gear. I did get a pair of running tights, but the forecast said the high would be 60 F and I thought that might be too warm for tights. So, shorts were a definite. The top would be a problem. I have some nice singlets, but I knew that wouldn't be warm enough, especially at the beginning of the race. When I bought the tights from Sierra Trading Post I also picked up a jacket and a top with 3/4 sleeves, both made from wicking fabrics, just because they were pretty cheap. I decided that I would run in those, although I hadn't run in them before (usually a no-no).
After a light breakfast, I drove to the race location. A bit of confusion as the race information said that the race was at the Malverne High School, but the packet pickup and the starting line was across the street at the Middle School. The high school would be the location of the finish line.
I have been thinking for the last few weeks that my training runs have been too fast in comparison to my race times. But I have been running easily and not feeling like I was going too fast. I thought perhaps I wasn't really pushing myself as much as I could during the races. I decided to see if I could go faster and planned on increasing my race pace by 30 seconds per mile to see if I could last the whole race. I didn't have anything to lose - the course was supposed to be fairly flat and the field was pretty small. I have noticed that these small local races attract a lot of kids and teenagers. Most of them aren't runners, but rather students at the schools affiliated with the race. They go racing off too fast at the start and you see them sprawled all over the course after the first mile or so. This creates races that are great for the beginner's ego. My modest times place me way up in the finish since the serious runners are really only a small part of the race.
I took off at the start at about a 9:50 pace. After the big group in front took off, I settled into a steady comfortable run. It was pretty cold and the jacket was getting in my way a bit (must get a long sleeve race top) but my legs warmed up after the first half mile and I checked my watch. Whoa! I was running at around 9:10! I still felt good, so I didn't slow down. At the first mile marker the clock said 9:20. This was going well - I just might get a personal record
Mile 2 found me passing a lot of the kids. I still felt pretty good, except for my hands being freezing. I now know why I see the marathoners wearing gloves in relatively warm temperatures. Must get me some of those, too. The clock at the two mile mark read 19:10. Quickly, do the math in my head. OK, I'm on a 9:35 pace - not bad, but I've slowed a bit. Check with the body...nothing hurts, breathing good. OK, pick up the pace a little.
When the watch says there is about a quarter of a mile left, I decide to go for broke. I still feel good and I start to pass runners. The course turns into the playing field behind the high school. Now we're on grass and I'm a little concerned I might slip. Watch the feet. I look up as I approach the finish line. It looks like it says 29:30 - that would be a fantastic time. But wait, as I get closer I realize that the second number is an 8. What!!! I rush towards the finish line to try and beat the clock. 28:57!!!! OHMYGOSH!
I was floating. I think there was a grin about a mile wide on my face. I didn't care how many people finished in front of me. I beat my PR by over a minute! After I wandered around in a daze for awhile, I started to think that I might actually have an age group placement. Like I said, there weren't too many older runners and I might get a placement just because there were fewer than 3 in my age group. So I wandered over and checked the finish order as it was posted. I finished 62nd with a pace of 9:19. Skimming the age/gender listings I think I finished 4th in my age group. I stayed for the award ceremony, which was the fastest one I've seen so far. They only announced the first place in each age group. I'm not even sure they announced the first three finishers overall. So, until they post the results online somewhere I can't be sure what my age placement was, but I'm too busy floating through this day to care.