Today was the Anna's Angels 10 mile race. I wasn't sure what to expect so I was trying to down play my chances of breaking 90, but after Friday's many conversations with cindy and frank and my coach telling me I was in good condition and she thought I could go faster then 90 I decided that I would just go for it and see what happens. I haven't really done a lot of long runs over 10 lately so the nagging feeling about what is going to happen at mile 9, the hardest mile of the race, was in the back of my head the whole way. I got to the race site, got my chip and found Cindy for our pre face warmup. I commented to her that long ago I would think people were crazy doing a mile warmup for a 5k and now here we are going it for a 10 miler, as if 10 miles wasn't long enough.
So on to the race. It had just stopped raining and we were nice and warm for the start. For some reason they had blocked off the whole street, but were only using half of it for the start, so even though we were only about 10 yards from the start it took us about 30 seconds to get over the start line. Eventually the crowd thined out and I was able to get into my rythm, I heard Cindy and Frank behind me talking but I was just concentrating on running a 9 min pace for this first mile and I figured Cindy would just pass me when she started going fast.
Mile 1 was mostly uphill and I managed about 9 minutes. There wasn't an obvious mark so I missed it, but I knew it was before the turn that started us downhill. Cindy caught up to me somewhere during mile 2, I was trying to find someone running a consistent pace to draft/pace off of, but most just kept slowing on the uphills so I would pass them, then flying on the downhills so they would go by me. I just wanted to run a consistent pace. Lucky for me once Cindy caught me she decided to run with me, I had thought she was just going to go by me because she looked like she was running really well with an easy stride. We went by the mile 2 mark and were running about an 8:50 pace, I thought this was a little fast, but felt good so far so just worked at keeping this pace.
Mile 3 was nice and flat and I think we ran another 8:50 mile without too much agony. My aerobic condition felt really good and I was able to talk and point out the weird people and their conversations around us, but my left ankle was starting to give me problems so I had to alter my foot strike from the inside to the outside until it went away and I could get back to my natural gait. I guess this was a good thing as it kept me from picking up the pace. Mile had two rolling hills on it, but still on the uphill we would pass people on to have them pass us going back down. I think we hit mile 4 with another 8:50 pace and then mile 5 was going to be flat before the uphill mile 6. I felt at this point that Cindy was slowing for me so I told her if she felt good to just go on ahead. She said something like, "I'm good with this pace".
Mile 5 felt great, but we had some problems at the water stop as I guess a big group had just gone through and they didn't have any water ready. We did not see the mile marker indicating mile 6 was starting but I knew it had since it just got difficult, this mile was hard and I really had to concentrate to keep the pace up. We went by the end of mile 6 at 53 minutes and then I knew we were having a good race. My 10k pr is 55 minutes something so I broke that and I still felt good. So I said to Cindy, "now we are doing well", she says "yeah for now", always the optimist. ;-). My ankle pain was gone now so I think we started picking up the pace around here, but my math and memory from the last 4 miles is bad, which is why I think we picked up the pace. I knew mile 9 was the hardest and wanted to get two fast miles before then so we wouldn't have to push too hard. We passed a few more people now and my confidence for finishing strong was increasing, not sure what the splits for those two miles were, but our converstion had just about stopped but we were still running side by side and Cindy still looked awesome.
I could see the start of mile 9 ahead so I started to mentally prepare for it, and when we hit it my breathing starting going all over the place. I finally relized that I needed to get into a rythm to make it up this mile long hill so it was two in, two out. I think cindy was counting and we both were hitting the same pattern. Once I got going on this the hill it was much easier and I think our pace increased. then came the last water station. I grabbed a water and drank half and dumped the other half into my hat and started going again. I heard Cindy behind me say "Go Bill" so I figured she was going to take a longer break. I hit the 9 mile mark at 79:59 and that was all the motivation I needed as I knew if I could do an 8 minute mile on this last downhill mile I could break 88 minutes. I really pushed as hard as I could on the downhill and I'm sure my heartrate was higher than the last uphill and I was starting to make up ground on the group that was ahead of me. Then it was the turn onto the finishing stretch which has two little hills which I didn't think were going to be hard, but when I hit the first one my legs felt like they were stuck in mud and it was so hard to keep my pace up. I recovered on the down and saw my coach, her husband, and the rest of her family cheering me on so I had to push harder, also I knew Cindy was just behind me and that helped me get up that last hill to the finish, but I just missed 1:28 and got a 1:28:07, officially probably a 1:28:35 for an 8:48 ave pace.
I was thrilled with that and when I turned around Cindy was right there. After I was finally able to breath again, Frank came in 2 minutes ahead of schedule. Coach B won the women's race and everyone we talked to seemed to have had a great race so even though it was rainy, foggy, misty, humid, at least it was cool.
Now I'm ready for a nap...