Oh, I feel so much better after a great race today!
Pre-race wasn't going so well. First of all, it was COLD. We gave ourselves plenty of time this morning, but had a spot of trouble finding the correct parking garage, which was where the packet pick-up was located. Finally got there and they were out of small t-shirts. Got a medium; thanks for the quilt piece/car-wash rag! One of my biggest pet peeves about racing is when they run out of your shirt size. WHAT'S THE POINT OF PUTTING IT DOWN ON THE ENTRY FORM? Grrrrr. I think it's a sign of bad organization when they run out. The ones who know what they are doing pack the shirts in with the race number and chip according to what the entrant ordered WEEKS AGO. Just my observations from the many races I've run.
Anyway, got out to warm up for 15 minutes or so. Tried to contemplate taking off outer jacket and long pants without much success. When I got back to the garage, I knew I really needed to pee before the race or else. So I got in the line to get in the line, no joke, for the portajohns. Ack. Took at least 25 minutes. Went very fast (I think the guy behind me was impressed by my speed--lol--that's not the first time that's happened; I waste no time when it comes to relieving myself). Sprinted back up the stairs to the car, where Mark was waiting, threw off clothes (being in a hurry helped since I didn't think about it--I raced in shorts and a long-sleeved tech tee), threw on chip and number, and sprinted to the starting line. Race already started! We both jumped in (thank the heavens for chip timing). Naturally, I waded through slower runners (my fault) and several walkers (THEIR fault--get in the back!). I ended up about two minutes off gun time, which was fine once the people thinned out. It also forced me to start conservatively (8:08 first mile).
Beyond all that though (I complain a lot, but it wasn't that big a deal) things went perfectly. Each mile was progressively faster: 8:08, 8:01, 8:00, 7:47. That's when I hit my groove; the last two miles were 7:48 and 7:49, with the final 0.2 in 1:39. The most important thing for me was that I felt very controlled and strong, even on the hills (rolling, pretty minor). My final time was 49:16, a 33-second improvement over last year and a post-collegiate PR. It's also 1:40 faster than last week, which rocks. Negative splits are my new best friend. If I can run similar race plans in the upcoming 10-miler, 15K, and half marathon, I'll feel pretty good about my chances of doing the same in the marathon. But I've got quite a ways to go (literally!).
Also, I have to give Mark a huge shout-out for his big PR! 10K is a pretty tough distance for him. He ran 58:34 a week ago and 58:03 about two years ago, and I believe those are the only two 10Ks he has run. But today he shattered his PR with a 53:17! I am so proud of him.