There was a good crowd for such a cold day, which is always motivating. I think they estimated 400--not too bad considering how small the race was and how cold the morning was. The size did impact the start as there was quite a bottleneck getting everyone onto the narrow levy, and there was a bit of jostling/passing until everyone got settled into paces. I realized early on that I was going too slow--letting the crowd dictate my pace instead of pushing myself to go as fast as I normally would on my own. So, I bumped it up a notch, kicked the gear one higher and started finding my rhythm. I have to admit it felt good to be the pass-er instead of the pass-ee! Checked my watch about mile 1 and was running about 10:07. Zoinks!
I finally hit my comfort zone--wait, that's wrong--I hit my mildly uncomfortable zone, the place where I know I'm pushing myself but not so much that I can't sustain the pace the whole race. Just enough to feel it, not enough to regret it. Hit the turnaround and was hit smack in the face with the freezing headwind. My eyes started watering and I had to give it more gas just to maintain pace. Luckily the path curved just enough--or there were just enough houses/obstructions--that the wind abated for a while. I was able to keep up my pace for the next mile or so.
I hit the 2 mile mark and started feeling the drain. I knew I was getting close to my max, but I was NOT going to stop or slow down. I could see the bridge ahead, and I knew the finish line was just on the other side. Luckily I'd programmed my playlist to play some hard-driving punk rock for the last 6 or 7 minutes, just what I needed to drive ahead.
Up a couple small hills and to the chute! Done. Breathe. Stop the watch.
Come again? Homina what? To say I was thrilled doesn't even begin to describe it. I admit to being a little skeptical of that time, simply because I wasn't sure if I started my watch at the start line and finish line (did I mention it was small and not particularly fancy?). But still, to see that time and know it wasn't too far off the "official" time, most likely, was absolutely exhilarating and invigorating. Yes!
I walked back on the course and met my mom and walked back in with her, we grabbed some free breakfast and headed home. *Official results were posted later and my posted time was 31:15. Still a PR for me (and a big fat one at that), so I'm happy. And I have to think that maybe my true time was somewhere between my watch time and the race time, since I doubt the official time accounted for the bottlenecks at the start and finish. Alright--enough justification and excuses. Official time is official time--just let it go, right??
What matters most is that it was a great, fantastic, surprising start to 2011. I hope this means good things for this racing season!