But I figured since this is my last big race of the year, I would share. I plan on doing a couple of 5Ks between now and the end of the year for fun, but that’s about it.
This race was the last of 3 at half marathon distance or better in 5 weeks. First was the Rock Bridge Revenge 25K, then the Bear Creek Half, and then Bass Pro. In between I continued to run a long run of at least 10 miles so I felt pretty comfortable that adding a few miles wouldn’t be too difficult. The Bear Creek half was a bit more of a sufferfest than I expected for a basically flat (except for one tough hill) race, and this got my attention. The word for the day at Bass Pro would need to be “pace”. I went out WAY too fast at Bear Creek (like a 6:50 first mile).
Bass Pro is in Springfield, MO. It is sponsored by Bass Pro Shops and many others, but it starts and stops at Bass Pro and they open up their facilities for the race. Although fairly new, it is gaining popularity due to it’s time of year, location and relatively flat course. Many of the runners I talked to before, during and after the race were first timers at longer distances. In the 3 races total there were 3177 runners. About 930 in the 5K and the rest in the half and full. The largest crowd was in the half, with just over 1700 runners. Packet pickup was well organized and there was a nice vendor expo before and after the race. Good food and lots of goodies.
Cold and windy. That is all. Race time temps were in the high 20s to low 30s with 15-25mph winds. Ouch. Hardest part of whole race was trying to figure out what to wear.
This race was about 95% on city streets and just a mile or so on an urban trail. The course was marked fairly well with a few notable exceptions. My GPS measured 13.18 miles. That’s close enough for me. There were a few long, slight grades but nothing approaching a “hill” on the course. Traffic control was adequate.
My PR in the half was 1:45:54. I achieved that this spring at the Sedalia Half Marathon. Bear Creek was a disappointing 1:47 and change so I really wasn’t sure what would happen. I figured if everything went OK I would be at or around 1:45 again but was hopeful for faster. I shivered my way through the opening ceremonies and decided to stalk the 1:45 pacer for a while to see what would happen. When the gun went off, we were surprisingly far forward for that large a crowd and he only had a handful of people with him. I had almost no traffic to deal with past the first turn out of the parking lot and was able to settle in to a good warm up pace immediately. After a “get to know” round of intros in the 1:45 pack, we all settled down. Checking my watch at the first mile I was at 8:21. Probably the best thing for me, but it felt slow. My friend Lisa was with me and she has been running well. I felt like I would be lucky to hang with her. We gradually pulled ahead of the 1:45 pacer and clicked off the next 5 miles at about a 7:50 pace. These felt REALLY good, so I decided to take as many as I could get. Lisa moved ahead of me and then dropped back. But then pulled even with me again at about mile 6. The course wound through the campus of Missouri State and through downtown Springfield. We joined with a group of about 4 other runners and Lisa jumped in behind one of them and started drafting on him as we went into the wind. They pulled ahead and I thought for sure they were gone. My miles were clicking off at between 7:45 and 7:55 and I just focused on being consistent. My mental math led me to believe that if I stuck with this pace, I could beat 1:45 so that became the goal. As we went through a midtown park at about mile 8-9 I caught up with Lisa again and as I checked my watch I realized it was because I had just run a 7:40 mile! At mile 9, this can either instill confidence or cause you to panic. I chose to be confident and leave it all on the course. Lisa’s drafting partner pulled ahead of us and she dropped back to run with me. Miles 10-12 were all at 7:40. When we passed the banner for mile 12 I decided to go for it and see what would happen. To my surprise, my legs responded and I picked up the pace. We wound through a neighborhood and I could hear the finish line. I was pretty sure I was at or below 1:45 at this point and I knew I needed to make up for that first mile. I rounded the last corner onto the finish chute and saw the clock had just rolled past 1:43. My last mile was a 7:33 and my overall time was 1:43:17. That’s a PR by over 2:30.
I couldn’t have asked for a better result. The confidence this gives me going into the off season is huge. And not because I think I’m “fast”, but because I think I’m healthy and actually on or ahead of the curve for training. So now it’s time to relax, have fun and cross train. I need to decide what I want to do next year and work on a plan. For the rest of this year, I’m going to try to break 22 minutes in the 5K and I have 45 days left until I can say I have gone 1 year without an alcoholic beverage.
Not a bad year…