Epic race. Epic day. I think I'll be adding to the Midcoast Half Marathon on my yearly to do list for races from here on out. The race directors put on a top notch event. The course traveled over very scenic, hilly terrain that was challenging, beautiful and a lot of fun. Their volunteers were super friendly and helpful. All of that added up to a great vibe.
The race went incredibly well. I nailed my 'A' goal which was to break 1:25:00. As of last night, I had pretty much written that off given how hilly the course was. But I felt great today and paced myself well and had a good mindset. Very stoked to have come in at 1:24:53, good enough for 9th place.
I met up with Joe at the Back Cove in Portland to carpool over to Lincolnville and given that not only is Joe a talented runner but a teacher as well, we had plenty to talk about. We got there in plenty of time to check in, mingle with everyone and do our warm-ups.
There was about a half mile walk/run over to the start line, which was down the road from the winery (which served as the race HQ and finish line). I accompanied Amanda and Ty, and it served as a good final warm-up.
A very quick ready, set, go and we were off. The first mile is a big downhill. We'd later have to run up it, coming back. I found myself running with Amanda and a murder of her fellow Crow Athletics teammates. Great folks and company.
Into the second mile and it was now just Amanda and I. We chatted here and there, but half marathon pace doesn't allow much for conversation. We also saw Ian and Zak, who were driving around the course to cheer us on (Ian's wife, Emma, was also running). I would see them several more times, which was a huge boost.
We began to close in on a guy wearing green and as we did so, he began to pick up the pace to stay with us. Amanda dropped back and soon it was just me, Green Guy and another guy wearing a Mid-Winter shirt (I forget his name, which is a shame because we ran together for over half the race).
The wind was very gusty and had been in our faces for the past few miles. I'm 6'1" and have pretty wide shoulders so people like to draft off me at times. I usually don't mind, but Green Guy was being kind of aggressive about it. At one point I said "I see what you're doing" to get inside his head a little. Mid-Winter Guy and I ended up dropping him at the end of mile four and it was just us for a long while.
Saw Ian and Zak again and I tossed my gloves to them. Course turned on to Belfast Road and now we had some uphills to contend with. Field was pretty spread out now and I could make out a guy in all black ahead. I muttered to MW Guy that he was our target. We passed him at the top of the hill. A guy on a bike told us three miles of downhills ahead. I quietly told MW Guy, "Bullsh--, it's really two".
Two miles of downhills now and MW Guy and I picked it up. We chased down another runner and passed him. Splits for miles seven and eight were 6:21 and 6:12 and it felt comfortable. In fact, the whole race so far felt oddly comfortable. Yes, I was working my tale off but my head was in a great spot.
Another guy wearing a purplish shirt was pretty far ahead and I muttered to MW Guy that he was our next target. Saw Ian and Zak again.
MW Guy dropped back and now I was slowly reeling in Purple Shirt Guy. Saw Ian and Zak again and Ian ran alongside me a bit and gave some solid encouragement. I asked how Emma was doing and he said she was doing great. Cool.
Course turned right and I finally caught Purple Shirt Guy. But the real work was about to begin. The biggest uphills of the course were next.
Up and up and up. It was hard work and the wind was now blowing in my face again, but I was still pretty stoked at how much energy I had. The long, hard tempo runs I've been focusing on this training cycle were definitely paying off. However, it was still tiring, and by the time I reached the top of biggest hill where Ian and Zak were, I was gasping for air and going pretty slow. Still, I hit that split in 6:57, which wasn't bad considering the climb.
The Final 1.1
The hills were now slighter and rolling but given it was towards the end of the race they were a bit tough. Now I began the time calculations. Hmmm, was breaking 1:25 in the cards? It just might be. But with each passing uphill I had hoped to spot the final right hand turn that goes behind the winery where the finish line was but all I would see was another uphill. This happened a couple of times.
Finally, I crested a small hill and could see the winery. But...it looked so far away. I glanced at my Garmin. It had just turned to 1:23. I didn't think I could get it and figured 1:25 and change was fine and now I booked it to get the best time possible.
I kept flooring it and reached the turn sooner than I thought I would. I looked right and could seen the finishing clock through the trees and beyond the final turn. It read 1:24:3X. Sweet!!! I would break 1:25:00 but I gave it everything I had to ensure I got as far under it as possible. I crossed in 1:24:53, giving a hearty fist pump as I finished. Kabam!!!
Exchanged congrats with other runners, including the Purple Shirt Guy and I thanked him for pulling me along for a while. He was hard to chase down. Soon after, I saw Amanda, Emma, Joe, Jason and some other folks finished. Amanda and Emma got first and second woman respectively, which was awesome! I also puked a little. More like two or three glorified vurps, but I guess it counts.
Changed, socialized and then Joe alerted me that he saw the results and was like "Dude, congrats on getting top ten!" Okay, he didn't say dude as that's not part of Joe's normal vocabulary, but the sentiment was the same. Ian and I were talking earlier and thought I might have cracked top 15, but I didn't expect top 10. Saw the results and sure enough, ninth place overall. Stoked about that.
This race was an important one for a few reasons. First and foremost, it helped validate that the training for Boston is on track. I think the focus on longer, harder tempo runs is paying some pretty big dividends. A very good time for me, despite the tough course and the crazy wind. Also, MacMillan projects a 2:59:01 marathon time based on this race. I guess that's the goal now for Boston, and I look forward to the challenge. Still a few weeks to stack some hay in the barn before the taper.
w/u Ran 1.8 miles @ 8:05/mile pace.
Ran 13.1 miles @ 6:29/mile pace.
Placing: 9th out of 156
AG (30-39): 3rd out of 17
Upper 30s to upper 40s, sunny, windy.
Saucony Kinvara 2, shorts, singlet, gloves (ditched at mile four).