http://youtu.be/qQkBeOisNM0 - The soundtrack in my head :)
Gun goes off. Cold wind blows rain in my face. And the music in my head starts. I immediately know I am ready for a good run. Redemption!
I race without music, but I may start bringing some 24s. There is nothing more inspiring than good music. My best races all have one thing in common. The music in my head is awesome! However, usually it is just the refrain of a song, since I rarely know all the words. (Just keep refreshing that link and that was the soundtrack to my entire run!)
LBI 18 miler is a point-to-point race across a barrier reef island along the New Jersey Shore. It is a pancake flat road course that runs in a straight line until mile 17.5, when you finally get to turn left, run around the block, and end at Old Barney, the Barnegat Lighthouse.
There is usually a head wind when running north and today was no exception. The weather report was not the most pleasant. I left my house with temps in the high 40's, but I had an hour and a half drive to get to St. Frances' Community Center to get my bib by 9:00. The race starts at 10:30. The Community Center is about halfway between the start and finish. Busses take runners to the start.
Late starts are crazy. I never know what to eat. I generally eat before a shorter race like this. I knew I would be hungry by 10:30, so I tried a Cherry Almond Bonk Breaker bar I picked up on a whim. It was gluten free so I figured why not.
I had an hour until the start, which by then should be about 50 degrees. For me that is still sports bra and shorts weather, but add wind and rain and I am easily confused, so I brought a bag of clothes. I ended up wearing one of my favorite mesh singlets, with arm warmers. I used the race T-shirt as a throw away. I was glad to have packed some throw away gloves too. I wore a new pair of shorts that I accidentally discovered had two secret gel pockets in the waist band! They rocked!
Because it was raining, I was happy to bust out my Senna hat for the run! This was awesome b/c the brave spectators would cheer for me by yelling "Go Senna!" which was really cool!
So the gun goes off and I am easily sub-7:00. I wasn't sure how recovered I would be, but I had about a 60-70 mile "recovery week" and know nothing about me was broken down. Based upon my last half marathon on Sept 22, I predicted an 18 mile time (fresh) should be about 7:15. A 6:45 mile isnt really going to be wise, so I slow up a little. M1 6:58
I settle down and a teeny tiny woman made pretty much of just muscle cruises up next to me and we chat. I ditch my throw away shirt and report that I really love the rain. She mentions she forgot to start her watch and I offer to call out the seconds off mine as she reads hers so she can figure out how much to add to her watch time to be accurate. At M2 we hit 7:05
I already like this woman. She runs so smooth and effortlessly. She reports that 7:00's is just about what she needs. I wonder how long I can stay with her. I miss a mile and we average 7:02 for the M3 and M4. I feel good and hit M5 at 7:02 as well
The rain is cold, but the wind is not terribly strong at this point. I notice the flags so I know we are running into it and I know it will never be at my back. I decide that the pace is a little faster than I may be able to hold, so I wish Maggie (as I learned later) luck and let her go ahead. M6 -7:06
I tried to think about this race as three 6 mile runs. The first 6, I wanted a good start. I wanted to relax in the second 6 and the work for the last 6, no matter how ugly it gets. As I hit mile 6, I reach back, slip a gel out of the pocket and it goes down easy. I am happy about this.
I ran the middle 6 miles pretty much alone, listening to the refrain of the song in my head while trying to run to the rhythm I created at a speed I could cruise at for miles. It was just three weeks ago that 7:09 was my new half marathon PR. Now I am running about this pace as a split in an 18. Sure, I could blow up, but I may not! I know that being leaner is helping me to find my speed. M7-7:10, M8-7:10, M9-7:08, M10-7:07
Eight miles to go. I start to feel like I am working hard (two miles too soon). My legs feeling heavy. M11-7:17, M12-7:13, M13-7:13.
In response to the fatigue, I grab the last gel in my waistband. It is very warm, thin, and gooey. I bite the tab. It is Lime flavored. It is also bright flourescent green. And it also SPLATTERS all over my face, arm, and singlet. I am covered in green slime. My only regret is that I made this maneuver AFTER passing the camera guy. I would have loved to have captured that mess on camera! LOL!
I hit 13 miles at 1:32:54 and smile! I pass a guy, who had passed me earlier, and encourage him to come with me. "Five to go! We got this!!!" He wishes me luck
A spectator reports: "Great job number 6!"
Huh, my bib is 856, not 6? I look back. Confused. He yells. "You are 6th female! 4th is 20 seconds ahead!"
The 5th female is just ahead of me. I can see 4th place up ahead and it's Maggie! I pass 5th place and she is unresponsive even with me fading. M14-7:12
I get excited about being in the top 10, but the wind has kicked up some and I am really getting tired of it. I need a break from fighting it. I see Maggie looking back at me. I know she feels it too. I think that if I can just reel her in, I may have a chance to get her. The wind is too much and we are both slowing equally. M15 -7:20, M16-7:18.
I see a guy run across the road towards Maggie. They pick it up substantially and she starts to pull away. For some reason, maybe because she is just alittle older than me and seemed so geniunely nice at the start, I am really happy to see her recover. She is hauling! I try to respond. M17-7:07.
Maggie passes a guy in a blue singlet and I work my way up to him as well. Maggie is gone and I know I cant catch her, but maybe I have a shot at catching this guy. A truck drives by and a woman yells out "You got this! No one is behind you!" I glance back and see two men too far back to catch me in less than a mile.
The guy in blue is moving well. We make the turn towards the finish and he drops a little more speed. I can't find a gear fast enough to match his speed at the very end. We have a nice peppy finish and I log my fastest mile of the day! M18-6:50.
I am almost in tears as I realize that I just ran 18 miles in 2:08:54.
Time: 2:08:54 (7:09 pace)
5th/ 384 Females