There's a certain beauty and excitement that lingers with one after a successful race, and such is the feeling that is still with me today. Racing always excites me because it puts to test all of the hard work that I've pounded out on the pavement, the trails, and the grass fields. When the plans and goals all come to fruition, there is sweet victory for yourself. Or, if the goals are not met, tweaks to the training plan can be made, and you wait for the realization of that plan to unfold with the next race. Such is the cycle, and this cycle allows for us to always push ourselves to the limits and to see what kind of pain we can handle the next time around.
With that being said, I've spoiled the ending to my race recap for Beat the Heat 2010, but you all already knew the ending thanks to all the support that stems from the Charlotte Running Club and Theoden Janes, the Perez Hilton of the Charlotte Running scene.
Regardless, I'll start at the beginning. I lazed around during my day of nothingness, the highlight was when I walked to Woodies' Auto Shop to pick up my car. At one point it dawned on me that the weather could be bad in Winston, so I checked it out and, sure enough, there was lightning in the hourly forecast. I crossed my fingers and hoped that the race would still go on and left Charlotte at 430pm to make the trip to my alma mater, Wake Forest. Since people in North Carolina don't seem to know how to drive in any sort of precipitation from light rain to a couple of snow flurries, there was a bit of a traffic jam on I-85 and this made my trip about 15 minutes longer than normal. I made it to the race with one hour before the start, and I immediately hopped into the porta-jon and then picked up my bib.
I began my warmup and, within 10 meters, I spotted Bill Shires and we ran the entire course. I learned more about Bill's bruised ribs from an unfortunate bike accident and this helped pass the time. Also, I spotted all of the women who I expected to be there. My goal going into the race was to get third place, but I wanted to go in a controlled fashion so that I would not crash and burn in the last half of the this speedy race.
During my drills, I spotted Billy Shue, who was kind enough to drive up from Charlotte to watch Bill and I race. It sure did mean a lot to both of us! By the time I had completed my A skips, karaoke, and strides, and laced up my racing flats, the race was about to begin. I meandered up the hill to the start line, gave the Demon Deacon a high five and said "Go Deacs!" and took off for another stride. I strategically placed myself on the start line far away from any of the other girls who have posted very fast times in the past month - Stephanie Pezzullo, Allison Grace, and Amber Moran. I did not want to get caught up in the excitement and go out too fast, and this proved to be a smart decision.
The race director shouted go and we were off in a tightly packed group. I situated myself in the top 50 of the pack for the first 400m and then it eventually evened out as the half mile approached. I saw Moran and Pezzullo tucked in close behind Grace and I figured the pace was quick. I didn't want to go out too uncontrolled, but needed to keep them within my sights. They were about 20-30m ahead of me. I came through the first mile in 5:26 with Bill on my shoulder. My breathing felt a little more difficult than expected, and I worried for a moment. Instead, I decided to make a conscious effort to keep the pace honest, and latched onto a young man.
The second mile features a slight incline for the latter part, but I didn't much notice. I saw Billy sprinting toward my group to capture some photos of us in action, and I smiled to myself. His enthusiasm goes practically unmatched! During this mile, I could feel Moran fading backwards toward me and I picked it up a bit to make a move on her. When I passed her, I provided some words of encouragement. I figured if she stuck with me, we could help each other post a fast time. At this point, I was feeling pretty confident and came through the mile in 5:32.
At the start of the third mile, there's a legitimate hill about 200m long and I passed a couple of guys here as I tried to post a faster mile split than my previous one. Luckily, the last 600m of the race features a nice down grade which propelled me to make some ground on Pezzullo, now within 5-8 seconds of me. I wasn't sure how far back Amber was so I was listening for someone to cheer for her. When I passed the three mile mark in 530, I heard someone say "You can catch her" which triggered a response in my legs that I haven't felt in quite some time. I pressed at an all-out sprint so that I could ensure a third place finish. While my legs were turning over at a speed that they have not seen since college, I saw the clock tick over to 16:47 and I knew I had a legit shot at breaking 17:00. When I crossed the line, I had closed in 31 seconds (4 seconds faster than I closed at CPCC Skyline) with an overall time of 17:01.
In the chute, I congratulated Pezz and Grace and thanked Amber for helping me out. I'm always impressed at how encouraging and supportive the women at these races are. In the end, I think we all recognize that we all share the same love for running and that, despite the competitive nature that seems natural to us all, there is a shared sense of respect.
In comparison to last year's race, I ran 38 seconds faster than 2009 and posted much more even splits. I can't complain about the improvement that is indicative in those times. This served as a huge confidence booster as I am one week out from beginning my marathon specific workouts in preparation for Twin Cities Marathon in less than 3 months!
I found Billy and Bill so we all cooled down together even though Billy was rocking a WF polo shirt and cargo shorts. I got a horrible side stitch 2 miles in so I called my cool down short by one mile and opted to find some grub instead. I ran into Joel Tull, who was our massage therapist when I was at Wake, and happens to still be the favorite massage therapist of both Garrett and I. We enjoyed a short but pleasant conversation before he had jet off to get back to Greensboro to give a rub down to a client.
Like last year, I was impressed with the post race food - bananas, oranges, watermelon, energy drinks, soda, water, pizza, granola bars - that never seemed to run out. The race organizers got the results up in a timely manner and presented the awards before the sun set so that I still had time to get to Whole Foods to pick up a cucumber avocado roll. I think the Twin City Track Club does a great job at organizing races and I always look forward to attending their events.
Overall, it was great to post a solid time, run with some great competition, and see some old friends from Wake Forest. I look forward to the next weeks of training with the CRC!!
The 2017 Boston Marathon
4 weeks ago