Some little pleasures about the day:
- Roses in the road dividers so as we ran by I could smell flowers;
- I walked the long way back to the train and ended up seeing the entry procession for a Hindu wedding - complete with bridegroom entering by horse (and everyone bedecked with embroidery and sequins);
- The wind that never picked up into a storm but instead gave much needed breezes throughout;
- A seat on the train both there and back, allowing me to read Ed Roberson's City Eclogues as I traveled above a similar city.
The course, briefly:
I made myself run miles 1-5 easily, breathing through my nose to keep my speed down. It was a humid day and I knew I needed to be careful not to go too fast. We were running on city streets south from the Museum Campus for this stretch, with lots of room. I took walk breaks at every mile and sipped my sports drink.
Gel break at mile 5, shortly after turning onto the lakefront path and heading back north. I put music on at this point - I have a special running mix of more "trance-like" music, also meant to keep me from running too hard - and didn't worry about my breathing at this point anymore.
At mile 7 it began to feel hard. I think I took a couple of extra water breaks in this mile.
At mile 8 I switched to more uptempo music.
There was no clock reading at the 8 mile marker. I had not been tracking my time vigorously but I knew my approximate pace and also knew the time I would need to come under if I was to finish in 2 hours (my "B" goal). I tried to just stay constant at this point.
(My "C" goal was just to finish - I've had to DNF due to humidity before and didn't want to again. So many people walking the last two miles in.)
At mile 9 I saw that if I could bring my pace down to 11:00 for the last mile (and I knew I'd done at least one mile at this pace already), I would be able to make my "A" goal - to finish under 1:55:00. I found a good song and kept replaying it (Queen's "Somebody To Love", the live version from Montreal). I felt strong but was careful still, I knew we'd see the stadium long before we actually entered, and because they were setting up the stage for the Beyonce concert that evening, I knew we'd need to wind through the stadium a bit before hitting the finish line. You don't want to give a final last push only to realize you still have another quarter-mile to go.
And it all worked out, because I finished under 1:55:00, feeling like I'd given it all I could. (I found out later I'd finished in 1:54:10, a 11:25 pace.)
So I was quite pleased, with my planning and with my day. It wasn't until later, when I found out my actual time and pace, that I remembered that I'd run this at a 9:25 pace last year, exactly two minutes per mile faster. And I was still pleased, because I'd run the race the best I could for that day, and it didn't matter what I'd done before.
And there was an odd satisfaction in that as well. I've wondered, what will it be like to race when I start slowing down? Right now I still have hopes of getting back to my previous speed, but I also know that I'm approaching the edge of my being able to improve my times. But this race showed me that it will all be okay - that I'll be able to enjoy competing against myself even as I slow down.
So now I have my eyes set on a 10K in August and one of my favorites - the Hot Chocolate 15K - at the end of October. I think this will all make for a very satisfying race season.