I had a race plan in my head, but I really just kind of felt like racing and seeing what I could do. Like usual, I started a few people back and lead the lead pack go, but to my surprise no one really pushed the pace off the line. So after we made the first turn and started up the one and only hill, I slowly moved up to the front of the pack and was even with the leaders. I then saw Theresa and Abigail (wife and daughter) and decided it would be cool to have a picture of me leading a race (since I never have lead a race before). I speed up to get in front and Theresa was there to get a few great pictures.
All I thought about next was how soon until the pack goes by me and did I just blow my race to get a good picture. Last year I did this race and was in about 20th place most for the first half and then moved up to 3rd on the back half. I felt great though and it was pretty cool having an escort on a bike in front of me so I just settled in and figured I would go with it for a while and see what happens. I actually did pretty well holding myself back and staying within a few seconds of my goal pace.
Every time I passed a mile marker I wanted to look back but wouldn’t let myself and just kept running until I hit the turnaround. Second place was about 20 seconds back and looked really strong, so I had to get back to work. After seeing him, mile 7 was my fastest of the race.
Well, things usually get tough for me in a half marathon around mile 10, but this time it was 7 and I got worried. There was enough of a head wind on the last 6 miles that it messed with my mind, but I don’t think it actually slowed me down at all.
Up until mile 9 every one of my splits were within 3 seconds of my goal pace, then at mile 10 I was 10 seconds slow and hurting. I got really worried about being passed and sucked it up and started to push hard. This was the same point in the race that the half marathon course re-joined the 10k course. Having the 10k runners there was good and bad. It gave me the motivation to have people to catch and push myself harder, because of this mile 11 was back exactly on my pace.
However, I was getting really sick of weaving around the 10k runners and actually ran into a few that cut me off or were not paying attention. There was an awesome volunteer riding a bike about 25 feet or so in front of me yelling for people to move over, but with two way traffic on a bike path and most people wearing iPods, people still got in his way and in mine.
Anyway, now that my rant is over, mile 12 was 12 seconds slow because I was exhausted at this point and had literally ran around a ton of people. Since we were on a long straight away by the lake I made the mistake of looking over my shoulder for the first time in the race.
I saw that second place was not in sight and I was relieved and excited that I could actually win my first race. The problem was now that I knew I was likely going to win, I just couldn’t dig deep enough to push the last mile and finished with another mile that was 12 seconds off pace.
Lesson learned: don’t look back if you are going for a PR and it is much easier for me to be trying to catch someone than running in front.
My goal was to run 1:14:59 this year and I went 1:15:25. I’m thrilled that I got to lead and win my first race but I’m disappointed that I missed my goal by 2 seconds per mile.
I can't even begin to say how much more I enjoy racing when Theresa and Abigail are there. They help me so much and mean the world to me … plus it looks like Abigail brought some good luck and Theresa is becoming a great photographer.
Jake and everyone at Zoot are awesome and keep sending great products so I have whatever I need to race. I ran in the Race 2.0's this time and they were awesome, light and fast but with enough support that I didn't have any foot problems at all. Plus I went sockless with no issues what so ever and haven't worn socks in weeks.
Thanks to GU Energy I have enough nutrition to last me all season. For this race one Roctane Gel right before the start was all I needed.
Of course my training partners at Endurance Nation, Marathon Nation and Fast Tracks Racing Team always motivate me to do my best and I continue to improve because of all of them.
Thanks for reading.
- Matt Ancona