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Jacksonville, FL, United States
In Life as well as in running the secret is Pace.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Outback Distance Classic 1/2 Marathon

The “Outback” is our local Thanksgiving Day race. I’ve competed in this race a handful of times…. Nothing makes the deep-fried turkey taste better than 13.1 miles of appetite building.

The timing of this race makes it an easy target to focus on after triathlon season is over. Conversely my two best ½ marathon times have been at this race with my PR of 1:54:17 set in 2004.

In the days leading up to the race I was not sure if I would be racing or not. My little blonde training partner was signed up to do her first ½ marathon and had asked me to run with her. I said yes… and silently cursed to myself…. I was ready…. Really ready… I was in the best shape I have been in for a very long time…

Race morning: I mention something about running with her… she said “Go on…” “Run your own race…. I’ll be fine”. Inside I was doing back-flips…. Yelling and screaming for joy… outside… I just looked at her and said “Are you sure?”

With that all settled we got out the door pretty much right on time. My daughter, Masey was running too. She was signed up for the 6k… I was not worried about her one bit. She’s a runner… 2 seasons of track and a few 5ks under her belt… she’d be fine.

We got to the race site about 35 minutes before the race started…. All we needed to do was make a quick run to the little blue boxes and we’d be fine…. Well… they had 18 or so boxes… and the line for each was about 30 deep….

So…. We actually got to the start line about 3 minutes *after* the gun went off… no worries… it’s a chip timed event.

About 200 meters into the race I spied a familiar face er… I mean back end… It’s Layne Wallace from the tri-list... looking strong…

I passed a lot of people in the first mile… having started at the very back end of the race… When the 6k split off from the ½ Marathon I expected the crowd to thin… not the case, however, the road was smaller and still fully packed…

I tried to keep steady… and run nice and easy for the first 4 miles and not pay too close attention to the pace…. I hardly noticed that these first 4 miles went by at a ~8:05 pace…

I did take notice of my pace on the 5th mile… I had been passing slower runners for the first 4 miles and in the 5th mile I finally got passed by a few… Self doubt started creeping in… a sampling of the thoughts in my head:

“Did I start out too fast?”
“I’ve never run this fast before…. In a race this long”
“I hope I don’t pay for this later”

My thoughts were getting a little annoying… so I simply followed the next set of feet that passed me… and really didn’t think at all for the next 2 miles….. Until the Lifesavers… someone at the side of the road was handing out lifesavers… and yelling out the flavors on offer… my brain woke up to Wild Cherry and I snagged one… As I attempted to unwrap my lifesaver the next aid station came into view... my newly awoken brain remembered that mile 6 aid station = gel… so I pulled it out… So I ran through the aid station with lifesaver in one hand unopened gel in the other… still trying to get my brain to tell me how to obtain water in this state.

Thankfully there was one person handing out water a little further down the street… I managed to shove Gel and lifesaver into my mouth and grab a sip of water without choking or tripping.

With my gel and lifesaver life was better again… pace felt easy again. A mile further up the road I ran into another old friend… one of my old Army buddies that I seem to run into at a race every year or so. We managed to have a 10 minute conversation without slowing down…. The last question he asked me was: What’s your goal for today. I answered “Sub 1:50”

He just looked at me and said “You better get on up the road then”

So, I did just that. Holding my pace took a good deal of focus for miles 9-12… my legs were not really screaming… but they were recommending that I slow down. I did not, however, and when the mile 12 marker came into view I realized that I had a little bit left.

I managed a ~7:40 pace for the last 1.1 through a cruel little neighborhood in which we had to make at least 12 turns. As I rounded the last of them and the finish line came into view, I was quite pleased to see 1:49:xx on the clock… I had just gotten under 1:50 for the gun time.

Chip time 1:47:06 for a 7 minute PR….

At the finish line I had my requisite bout with asthma and set out to find Masey… I found her in the car… texting… like only a 15 year old girl can. She’d had a good race.

We walked/jogged backwards through the 12 turns of the final 1.1 miles… met up with Kara and ran her in to the finish as well.

And the fried turkey was good…

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