Today couldn't have been more perfect. Weather was cool - 58F and low humidity, some wind. Course is completely flat and is considered a very fast course. Garmin says the course was 3.20 mi, but I think that may have been a function of running a couple of streets with tall buildings on either side and a section where we were running under an overpass for about .15mi. Bottom line, I got a great PR and everyone else I knew running it did very well too.
Splits: 7:10, 6:50, 7:19, 1:20 (0.20)
Got to the race with plenty of time and with the exception of almost forgetting my timing chip in the car, the warm up was uneventful. My daughter came with me and she went in to get a good seat in Heinz Field (Steeler's stadium) where the finish line is. I warmed up with some slow running and some high knees, butt kickers and some stretching. They always start late from what I had heard and they didn't disappoint. They had traffic on the course that the police were trying to get cleared. The race was supposed to start at 9am but the gun didn't go off until about 9:35. I don't know if they meant they'd start all the chatter, introduction of former Steelers players and coaches, national anthem, etc at 9am or whether they'd have that all out of the way and the gun firing at 9am. Didn't matter too much to me. The weather was great and I just kept moving to stay loose. The last thing I wanted was to pull something and make next week's race miserable.
There were over 3,000 runners this year, up from about 2,600 last. I knew with my 24:00 goal that I'd be in the first 1/3 or so of the finishers, but I also knew from my few racing experiences that I tend to spend too much time trying to get around people that start too far towards the front. I didn't start far enough forward even though I thought I was pretty well positioned. That stressed me out and I felt like I was playing catch up the rest of the race. Part of me was upset at these people, but I realized that I am to blame for not starting farther ahead. I just am not that confident with my ability to start out fast enough and then hold it. I was passing lots of people even after the first 0.5mi that it took me to get out of the congestion. I didn't look at my Garmin much in the first mile, so I was pretty surprised when I came past the first mile marker and they were yelling splits. It was just under 8:00. I was shocked. It sure seemed a lot faster. I had my Garmin setup to show my HR, mile split avg pace, distance, and split distance. I had heard the mile markers weren't exactly right, so I chalked it up to that and the slow start.
During this first mile, I latched on to a guy that had a shirt with a girl and a saying "Skirt Chaser." I figured he had latched on to some faster chick and was chasing her, so I tried to stick with him. As we were on our way back to the stadium, I was thinking, "man, this is going by quick and I'm cruisin!" I was struggling some, but figured the end was in sight! Then, as we ran past the door that leads into the stadium, it dawned on me that we still had to run around the stadium, back past the start, and down a street and back! This was a HUGE mental blow. I was about a mile from the finish at that point.
The last mile, I was trying to just keep my position. I let a couple of guys go by me toward the end, but I did catch and pass the skirt chaser. I didn't find the skirt, but I'm sure she was up there. There was a point at about 0.3mi that I really wanted to just walk. I knew I could walk it to the entrance to the stadium and still PR, but I knew if I did that I wouldn't be able to break 24:00. I pushed through and as I entered the stadium, I saw 22:45 or so and realized that I wasn't going to be able to break 23:00 but I tried. I hit the finish line at about 23:10 and stopped the Garmin. Man was I disappointed! I was so close to a sub-23:00! Then I remembered the delayed start and looked to see what my Garmin said and I was totally stoked! Yeaaa!
I don't have final results yet to know where I placed, but I did better than I had expected to do, especially with the stressful week. I'm glad I took the last two days off since that definitely helped. I would have had to do sub-20:00 to place in my AG, so it will have to be next year. :-)
Overall, I felt great and am happy with my PR. There are mistakes I made (starting too far back & forgetting about the details of the course) that possibly could have gotten me close to a sub-22:00. With some more race experience, I think everything will come together nicely over the next year or so. 2011 will be a great year!!
They didn't tell me there would be ice cream at the end. I would have blitzed for it! (Sorry, pic is terrible, but it sure tasted great!) lol
Edit: Added Overall and Division places. I got chicked 45 times over. Still, 301 out of 2,861 isn't too bad. There were wheelchair and walkers which put it over the 3,000 mark. I would have had to be under 18:04 to place in my AG. :-( It's gonna be a while for that, I think. In the 40-45 AG, I would have had to be under 17:38. Dang! It's not gonna get easier as I get older??