I had just about decided to settle… you know… gotten to the point where I thought that I was going downhill... aged past my prime. I’d even thought like some do of starting over… creating a whole new list… My over 40 (Masters if you will) PRs.
Okay… I’m getting a little bit ahead of myself.
The Pumpkin run is one of my favorite races. I think I’ve done it 5 times now. Training has been going well. My focus has been on a couple of half marathons… one in November and one in December. The 10 miler would be a good mid-term.
It’s not so much that the morning of this race is on the coldest morning in months… it just seems like it because we are up and outside in shorts so early…. This year did not disappoint. My old friend Mark came over to ride to the race with us. It was chilly… the seat heaters were on. J I am a Floridian… under 60F= seat heaters for me.
On the way to the race we discussed pace. Mark has missed a good deal of training of late due to work, and, family, and life in general. I, on the other hand, have been quite consistent and focused. Mark said that he was shooting for 10 10 minute miles. This forced me to publicly state my goal of 8:30s. I tried not to think of the pain required to live up to that statement. With the handicap decided at 1:30 per mile we were ready. Kara, competing in her first 10 miler was silent. Her goal was simply to finish. Mark and I understood… racing a new, longer distance always a bit scary.
Got to the race plenty early… lines for the blue boxes were pretty short… We ran into a few old friends waiting for the start… always nice to catch up.
BOOM! The gun goes off in the middle of our conversation and I’m not ready quite yet… being the cold weather weenie I am, I kept on a long sleeve t-shirt over my tank top. I attempted to get it off while shuffling to the start line and trying to lose neither my hat nor sunglasses… I ended up with my head out of the head hole and both arms pinned behind my back as I crossed the timing mats… I yelled to Mark over my shoulder to pull my shirt off… he made some derogatory comment then yanked my arms free.
Now… one of the reasons I love this race is because it runs through a cemetery… completely closed off and isolated from traffic… quiet… and scenic… narrow canopy roads. Well… except for the start… the narrow one lane road and 1000 runners makes for some serious congestion. About a minute in I passed two walkers... abreast of each other… WTH? Some people…
By the end of mile 1 things had pretty much sorted themselves out. The clock at the mile marker, however, did not have good news for me… 8:49. Great! In the hole already.
Mile 2 is an out and back section. This gives you an opportunity to see the rest of the field. It also provided one of the best sights of the day. Somehow I missed Mark… I know… a lot of runners out there… but I was looking… and Mark is 6’5” and big boneded… with the long grey hair of a civil war general… but anyway…. I did see Kara… the look of fear from before the race had been replaced with a look of determination… Good. The best sight, however, was seeing Layne out there racing… The clock at the 2 mile mark told me that I’d just run ~8:00… I tried not to think about how hard it would be to continue at that pace.
Miles 3-5 were a bit of a blur. I even forgot to take a gel at mile 4 as I had planned. By the time it occurred to me... I was almost to the 5 mile marker. Although I had no idea where I would get some water to wash it down. I swallowed it anyway and began to look for the 6 mile marker. About a half mile later, I hit my lowest point in the race. I saw and aid station ahead... Finally I get to wash the vanilla power gel out of my mouth… As I tossed my cup to the ground I pass the 5 mile marker… that’s right the 5 mile marker…. The other thing about this race is that it is multiple loops of the cemetery. I had mistaken the 8 mile marker for the 5 mile marker. Instead of cruising home… I was just at the halfway point. Nothing to do but keep running and do some math at the clocks set at each mile marker.
My math was telling me that I had made up the 1st mile deficit and was holding my own.
At the beginning of the last loop I caught my old dentist. He’s one of the those fast skinny guys… dropping him and holding him off kept my mind occupied for a couple of miles.
At the nine mile marker I freaked a little. A glance at the clock and mental math produced a non-favorable result. .. I had somehow miscalculated and need an 8 minute mile to attain my goal of 8:30s. I lengthened my stride and picked it up as best I could. Somewhere before the finish line I re-worked the math in my head and realized my earlier error and probably slowed down a tad…
I finished in 1:23.24 (8:20 pace J)and immediately had an asthma attack… super… L I retrieved my shirt from the start and my sweatshirt from the car and pretty much had my breathing under control when Mark finished. He’d done well too… averaging 10:15s on minimal training. Kara finished strong as well… knocking 30 sec per mile off her 15K pace from 6 months ago.
Yet another fun part of this race is that the course is lined with pumpkins… about one every 10 meters or so… After the race competitors can go out on the course and pick a pumpkin to take home…. we managed to poach three of the orange gourds for ourselves before we headed home.
The best parts of the day:
1. Seeing Layne out there racing... with a big smile on his face.
2. Kara finishing her first 10 miler
3. Mark getting back into running… and hearing him vocalize his comeback plan and upcoming races.
4. And I have a brand new PR… my 10 mile PR was 7 ½ years old… and I had just about come to the conclusion that running PRs were all in the rear view mirror for me. Now I have a different attitude.
More on #4 later.