8k race in sub 28:09 + win prize money
3 miles warmup + race drills
8k race in 27:45 w/ course marker splits of 5:33, 5:56, 5:34, 5:22, 5:16
1st place, $500
3 miles cool down with Kris Vegh for ~11 miles total
The small field of sub-elite runners in the state of NC take care of each other and make sure that we know where the prize money races are throughout the state. A couple years ago, Devin Swann informed me of a fast race, the Kinston 8000m, in Eastern NC that paid three deep. My friend and former NC resident, Heather Magill, had won the Kinston 8000m three times in a row and so had Devin, so I figured that I would finally take a stab at running it as well. After all, Garrett's parents only live 40 minutes outside of Kinston and I needed a flat course to help boost my confidence. I was in!
Garrett and I got on the road in the early afternoon in hopes of beating some of the traffic so that we could make an early dinner in Raleigh with Michelle, Thomas, and (surprise) Meagan! We made it to Raleigh in time to enjoy about 10 different 8-piece sushi rolls split between basically four adults. Somehow we spent over $150 on sushi and, more importantly, consumed 95% of it. It's always a special treat to catch up with Meagan and Michelle and I couldn't help but keep thinking of what they looked like in red wigs (flashback to my bachelorette weekend in Raleigh). After a couple of laughs and a couple of glasses of wine for Meagan, Garrett and I got on the road again. We arrived at Garrett's parent's house and I basically went directly to bed.
Flash forward to race morning, where Ann and Scott drove me to the race in Kinston in time for a nice warmup. Immediately, I surveyed my competition. First, I saw Kris Vegh get out of her car and was both happy and dismayed at the sight of her because I like her very much as a person, but I also knew that she'd beaten me at the USA Half Champs. I immediately went up to her and asked if we could warmup together, where I discovered that she had just run a 1:16 at Shamrock half six days prior and that she had basically the same race plan as me -- that is, to go out conservatively in 5:40 and gradually get faster. She also told me that a Kenyan was there and I immediately recognized her name, Divina Jepkogei. I felt certain that she had beaten me, albeit by very small margins, in past races, and immediately resolved to beat her.
I finally toed the line next to Kris, and the director yelled "Go!" and we were off on the perfectly flat course. I settled into a nice rhythm in the middle of Kri and Divina. We were running three abreast on the wide street, and I just relaxed next to them. My Garmin had our lap pace as 5:40, so I felt very good about our start. Then, of course, we came through the course marker in 5:33. The next mile, we turned down the main street of Kinston, and the three of us were still running side by side. After I saw the 2 mile split of 5:56, I told myself that I didn't come here to tempo, and immediately began to push the pace. Kris and Divina stayed with me through about 2.5 miles We rounded a left turn through a neighborhood, and I put on another surge through the turn. I couldn't help but think that all the practice for a proper u-turn technique for the Olympic Trials Marathon course finally was coming in handy! I could sense that Divina was falling slightly off and kept going. After that dismal 2 mile split, I stopped looking at my watch. I did listen for my 4 mile split - 22:27 - which was a 4 miler PR. I still had no idea if I was going to break 28:00 and honestly, after the 2 mile split, I thought there was no chance. By the final mile, I could tell that no one was within reaching distance to me unless they unleashed a killer kick, so I tried to use my own motivation to keep me powering through. There weren't any men within distance that I could use as bait, so I just pushed hard. Right before the finish, I passed Mother Earth Brewery, and silently thanked them for providing beer for my wedding. I crossed the finish line in 27:45, with a 24 second PR and earning $500.
Considering that I've reduced my mileage by about 25%, I am absolutely thrilled that I was able to PR in basically my first real race back since the Army Ten Miler. For the first time in over 9 months, I felt hungry for competition and enjoyed fighting for a top place. I'm also very pleased with the faster splits in the last half of the race. I basically ran some of the fastest mile splits I've seen in a race in a couple of years. Now I really want to jump into a 5k so that I can break 17:00!!!
Finally - my Garmin splits were a bit more accurate than my manual splits...They were 5:40, 5:42, 5:32, 5:18, 5:16 - which shows a nice progression.
The 2017 Boston Marathon
3 days ago