The race started and the pack took off. I didn't think too many of them looked like they should be running that pace, but some of them held it longer than I expected. I looked down at my Garmin midway through the first mile and saw that my instantaneous pace was about 5:20, but I figured I wasn't really going that fast. When I hit mile 1, I was in about 12th place and had run a 5:20. The guy who beat me had passed me about 1/2 a mile in and was up in the front of the pack. The were a few short hills in the first couple of miles and I realized that this wasn't going to be as flat a course as some of the ones I'm used to running in Houston. I actually liked the hills because they weren't too long or steep, but I could be running at sub 5:00 pace on the downhills and not feel like it was too much effort. I picked a few people off between mile 1 and 2 and I was trying not to lose contact with the pack ahead of me. I passed the mile 2 marker and hit 5:21 for mile 2. I started to wonder if I had gone out too quick and would blow up at the end, but I was still feeling pretty good.
Mile 3 had the most hills out of any mile and the pack ahead of me started to break up and I was picking people off and I was up into 6th place by the end of mile 3. The guy who really won was in the lead by himself and there were a couple guys a few seconds behind him and then a couple more guys who were in my sights and slowing down. I hit 5:19 for mile 3 and was feeling pretty good, but I thought I probably had started too fast. I passed the two guys in front of me and moved into 4th and set my sights on the two guys ahead of me. Mile 4 was probably the hardest of the race for me. I had passed the 2 guys right after the mile 3 marker and there was a decent gap to the next two guys. I could tell they were slowing down some, but it was hard to keep pushing to try to close the gap and not settle into an easier pace and just stay the same distance back. I hit mile 4 in 5:24, but had narrowed the gap significantly and had the guys in my sights.
With a little more than 2 miles to go, I knew that I had a legitimate shot at breaking 34:00 and I was pretty certain that I could take the two guys in front of me. I caught the first one at about 4.25 miles and we were about 3 or 4 seconds behind the guy in front of us. The first guy I caught didn't hang with me so I put in a surge and caught the other guy. He hung with me for a little bit but I put in a surge as we went up a hill to try to drop him and put some distance between us. I didn't want to settle into a slower pace and then have him just hang on me and end up passing me back near the end. Mile 5 was my slowest at 5:31 but I hadn't completely blown up and there were a few hills in it as well. I looked at my watch and saw I was right at 27:00 and calculated if I could run 5:40 and then 1:20 for the last 1/4 I would break 34:00. When I hit mile 5 I decided to treat mile 6 like the last mile of a hard interval workout and just keep pushing hard since I was almost done. I could see the guy in front of me occasionally but he was about 30 seconds ahead and I knew I wouldn't be catching him. I broke the last mile down into 1/4's and kept pushing trying to extend the gap between me and 3rd place.
My sister and brother-in-law and mom were cheering near the 6 mile marker and once I turned the corner I was kicking it as hard as I could. I didn't look at my watch until after I finished but I had run a 5:19 for mile 6 which was my fastest of the race and the last 1/4 mile in was at 4:50 pace according to my Garmin.
After I finished the race a guy came over and asked to take my picture and started interviewing me. I was wondering why they were spending so much time interviewing the 2nd place finisher and when I mentioned finishing 2nd the guy told me that the person ahead of me didn't have a chip so basically he didn't count and I was the winner. I felt kind of bad since this guy beat me by 20 - 30 seconds. I was off cooling down, but I guess they gave out the overall winner awards and I got a nice plaque and a frozen fully cooked smoked turkey. I guess I'll be eating plenty of turkey over the next couple of weeks. I was just happy with running a good time and hoping to win my age group.
My approximate splits were 5:20, 5:21, 5:19, 5:24, 5:31, 5:19, 72. I'll try to get back to updating my blog with my workouts more regularly. Lately my life has seemed like it is pretty much work, run, eat, sleep, repeat but work should be easing up some in the next week or two.
Have a great Thanksgiving!