Jason and a friend/client were already signed up for the race as well. It was T's first ever race. Yes, his first race was 9.3 miles! I'm training him for the Little Rock Half Marathon next month and thought this would be a good test for him.
Luckily, the weather wasn't rainy. However, it was 100% humidity with 14 mph winds. It was dreary out, but also in the upper 50's. Crazy considering my water bottle was frozen on Thursday morning's run. So, one day I'm wearing multiple layers, and by race day I had on shorts and short sleeves and I was over-dressed.
My goal? Well, I didn't really have one to be honest. I had no idea what an average time was for a 15K. I decided I'd just go out there and see how I felt then go from there. I let myself get caught up in the excitement of the start and was hitting a sub 7 minute/mile pace initially. I knew I couldn't hang with that for too long, especially knowing the hills that I'd be facing on the out of the route.
It's supposedly a fast course. But there are some pretty steep hills on the out, I guess they consider it to be fast because you get the downhills on the return. But by that time, that didn't seem fast haha.
The first mile loops around near the start and passes the 9-mile marker. That's just cruel. But, that is all flat at least. The first hill is a doozy that takes you up up and up before coming out near a golf course then a nice down slope (that you realize you have to go back up later).
That first down felt great. The course takes you over a wooden bridge then through a winding, paved trail through a wooded area along the Arkansas River. It really is a scenic route. But then you have to be prepared for the next incline.
Once you top that incline you have steep, sharp bluffs to the left and the river to the right. I had misread the route and thought that we passed a skate park and took a left that takes you downhill then loop back by the river to the backside of the park. Wrong, we went on the backside of the park then UP that steep incline that included a 180 degree sharp left. Phew. Breathing hard at this point but still holding a 7:35 average, even with the hills. I was proud of myself, but starting to hit a mental wall by mile 6.
I just kept reminding myself of the downhill sections ahead. There was a girl running next to me that would move ahead then as we hit a hill, I moved ahead. This went on for the last 3 miles until she found an energy reserve I didn't have. I pretty much gave it my all the entire race. The humidity was affecting my breathing though and the wind smacking you in the face on the out made it feel all the more difficult. At least the wind was at our backs on the return, for the most part.
The weirdest part was judging that last 3 tenths of a mile. With a 5K, you have a tenth of a mile until the finish, a 10K you have to mentally get through 2 tenths. And sometimes that tenth feels like the longest part of the race. So to have 3 tenths? The finish was so close but so far. I tried to kick in one last bit of oomph and managed to eke out a 7:16 pace for that last little bit. I crossed the finish line at 1:10:45, which was gun time. (Side note: there was no mat at the start to activate the chips only a mat at the end to record the finish).
The girl that I had been battling with congratulated me then told me how close we were to hitting the 70 minute club. I wasn't even thinking about that. Shoot, so close. Normally at the end of a race, I end up walking a bit and stretching, but I decided to do a very very easy run instead. I ran another 3 tenths of a mile before hitting up the water table and stretching. I'm definitely going to incorporate that after-race cool down run from now on by the way.
|Me and Jason post race - he ran with our friend|
9 out of 192 female
66 out of 369 overall
4th in my age group
|My "trophy" for 4th place|
And, I really must give a huge shout out to my client/friend (really friend before client) for not just finishing his first race, but taking on such a challenging race as his first ever race and doing an awesome job. He finished well under a 9 minute/mile. Very very proud!
|Jason and T|