The goal...not really sure. One discussed strategy was to 'race' it in order to determine what my pace should be for the upcoming Portland Marathon. First thing to note about this concept - I'm only three weeks out from Portland at this point and I should probably have my pace already figured out. If I don't (which apparently is the case) then it may be a little late to try for something big. Second, in my relatively new endurance lifestyle I've never 'raced' anything. It's always been about finding a pace that you can maintain for the entire run. So this was a new concept and one that I hadn't thoroughly thought through.
The morning of the race I met Robin and Pat at the Village Green to check in, pickup our packets, and have some time to visit the bathrooms and warm up. We did a nice easy 15 minute warm up and then were ready to go. I still hadn't landed on what time/pace I was shooting for but I figured I would just play it by how my body felt.
The gun went off and the entire pack was off like a bolt down 11th street, heading north. I instantly tried to settle into a comfortable rhythm, glancing every once in awhile at my Garmin. I was breathing easy and felt great, not to mention the Garmin was reading 7:40 pace. Not necessarily a good sign since I wasn't quite sure I could maintain that over 9.3 miles but... well my body felt good and my breathing wasn't labored so why not?
The course takes you north along State street and then drops you down past the old GP 'moonscape', the homeless haunts near the Sanitary Services depot, and out along the marina to Zuanich Park. Running out along the marina I saw some of the front runners heading back to Fairhaven. It is almost always on these types of out-and-back courses where I have that brief moment of 'what if I turned around here...would anyone notice'. I wonder if that will ever go away?
As I turned on Coho Way, heading into the park, I started to catch some of those runners who were fast out of the gates. At this point I was still averaging sub 8 minute pace and feeling great, albeit a bit hungry. Rounding Zuanich point I was surprised and thankful that there was no wind - this area has been a real struggle in previous races, essentially bringing your race to a slow motion walk. The temperature, however, was starting to rise and I was questioning my decision to wear an all-black outfit. I already felt like I was melting in the sun.
It was now onto a loop out around the Bellwether Hotel, along a gravel walkway (not a fan of running on large rocks making the surface extremely uneven), and then onto Roeder again to head back to Fairhaven. It was about this time that I decided to eat a Gu. I'm not sure that this was the best idea I've ever had but it seemed like a good idea at the time. During all of my training this summer I've been very regimented about eating something every 45 minutes or so, so it seemed only logical. I didn't think it any further than this - realizing that I only had 3 more miles to go and by the time the effects of the Gu were really felt I would be done with the race. So, Gu consumed and water gulped, it was now time to pick up the pace and finish this race strong.
Not to be. Shortly after my ingestion of the 'much needed' nutrition I started to get a severe side stitch. I slowed my pace a bit and tried to take full, deep breaths of air. I even tried my Lake Stevens method of pushing on the side stitch and continuing to run. All of the above only seemed to aggravate it even more. Every step seemed to make the cramp worse. The only solution that I could find was to walk. I would walk 5 to 10 steps with my arms over my head and then try and run again. On the trail between Warf street and Boulevard Park I probably walked three times and then again once I hit the boardwalk. Total bummer! Once I hit Taylor dock, however, I was determined to ignore the stitch and run strong the rest of the way. I powered up the dock and began to pick up the pace. Only .3 miles to go and there was no way I was going to limp it in.
All in all it was a good race - PR over last year (although I'm still not sure what my 'official time was my Garmin says I finished in 1:15:47 - 8:06 pace), an understanding of what it means to 'race', AND a good base for an 8:40 pace in Portland.
Just some data from the race:
|Time||Distance||Elevation Gain||Elevation Loss||Avg Speed||Max Speed|