I made it.
No I'm not talking about meeting my goal for the race, I'm talking about the race itself.
The start time for this race changed this year, but I couldn't remember if it changed from 9:30 to 9:00 or 9:00 to 9:30. Their website said 9:00 in one spot but also had a countdown clock that calculated to 9:30. For some reason I thought 9:30 was correct - I was wrong.
Normally this wouldn't be a problem because I typically arrive about an hour before the start of a race. Even if I was wrong, I'd still have a half an hour. However, since I picked up my race packet last night, there really wasn't any reason to get to the start so early.
The race is about 20 minutes from my house and at about 8:20 the logical side of my brain kicked in. I thought, "Why would they add a half marathon and make the race later?"
Hmm, I bet the race starts at 9:00.
I jumped in the car and arrived at the far south end of Minnehaha Park, near the off-leash dog park around 8:45. I changed into my race outfit and ran the 10 minutes to the start. As I approached the park I could hear the National Anthem.
Time for stride or two.
With probably 4,500 runners starting the half marathon and 10K at the same time, I was a little worried. Luckily I was able to jump a fence just as the Elites were starting - two minutes before the masses.
Race conditions were pretty good, especially for Get in Gear; 40-45 degrees, cloudy with a sight north wind, which meant a head wind for the first 2.5 miles or so.
My plan was to run the first mile in 6:20 +/- 10 seconds. I figure 6:10 would be a little too hot and 6:30 would be a tad slow. I ended up running a fairly comfortable 6:17. We started to get strung out a little during the second mile, so I tried to tuck in and relax. That was another fairly comfortable 6:17.
Given that I wanted to run faster than my Human Race pace of 6:23, I was starting to feel pretty confident. I know the 3rd mile has some uphill as we cross the Lake Street Bridge. I'm prepared for a slower split, so the 6:27 I see on my watch doesn't bother me.
A few seconds later I pass the halfway point in 19:37. Barring a complete and total meltdown, the sub-40 I wrote in my logbook is in the bag. I thought about writting sub-39:30, but didn't want to go "crazy".
Right after the 5K point we take a hard left and head up the hill towards St. Thomas University. If you've run TCM, you know the hill I'm talking about - it's around mile 22. The good news with GiG is that at the top of the hill we turn right and are rewarded with a downhill. Mile 4 passes in 6:20 and I'm happy that it's faster than the 3rd mile.
Did anyone read McMillan article in the last Running Times? He talked about race pace strategy. His advice is to break the race into sections and then mentally prepare yourself to "go for it" during some point in the race. He suggested working really hard during the third quarter of the race. At mile 4, this was what I was thinking about - along with my recent discovery that I need to focus on a quicker turnover.
It must have worked because the 5th mile ended up being my fastest of the day; 6:14. That means I ran 8K in about 31:20 or 23 seconds faster than Human Race. Not much happened during the last mile. I was able to maintain my pace with a 6:21 mile and 1:19 last two tenths.
39:15 with splits of 19:37 and 19:38. That's 6:18 pace or 5 seconds per mile faster than my pace for 8K five weeks ago. It also calculates to a 3:04 marathon.
So after all these years of trying to run faster at GiG than HR, I finally figured out how to do it. I just needed to let myself get really out of (running) shape during the winter.
Seriously, it's really great for the psyche to see the times going in the right direction.