I have run the Winter Run twice before, once in 2004 with a 1:58 (7:52 pace) and once in 2005 with a 2:01 (~8:00 pace). I'm still amazed when I look back to 2004 and ask "how the heck did I do that?" I felt like I was in shape for a repeat performance and was ready to go from the gun. What I didn't take into account, though, is that the course was in a different location and was labeled as "challenging." Even though I did most of my bike training in Granville last year, I guess I was just blind to what challenging meant.
The elevation from my Garmin.
As I started the race, things were going well. It was really windy (I mean, REALLY windy), but it was only in my face for a little over a half mile until it was at my back. Because the wind was pushing me down the road, the pace was a little quicker than I wanted to start, but I was feeling great and just wanted to maintain. A girl I used to coach, Amy, was right in front of me and I decided to make her my target; do not let her out of my sight. The first water stop was not until about the 2-1/2 mile mark. This was going to be the norm--too far apart. More on that in a minute. By the time I reached the 5 mile mark, the wind was back in my face and we were climbing. And climbing, and climbing, all the way back to the start/finish line.
As I started the second loop, I was feeling a little more tired and beat up than I wanted to, but I kept on pressing, holding a pretty good pace. The wind got to my back and things were going okay. At one point I finally reached Amy, but she quickly overtook me again and that was that. When I reached the 12 mile mark, my legs were saying no. The climbing started again and it was a slow-go. At the top of the first hill was the water stop. I took my last gel and my stomach revolted. It was everything I could do not to toss my cookies. I did not want to be that girl on the side of the road puking my guts out. This is where I turned my only post-9:00 mile. The finish line was at the school and I could see it in the distance but it seemed so far away. I willed my legs to go and they picked it up ever so slightly. Finally, I turned into the parking lot and brought it on home. Right at the end I had a guy step right in front of me (and seriously there was no one in front of me and no one behind me. Why he stepped right in front of me, I'll never know). I yelled at him to MOVE!.
Dave and my friend and teammate Colleen were taking pictures at the finish line.
My finish time was around 2:04. I'm still waiting on an official result. It was my slowest 15 mile race to date, although the course may be the hardest course I've ever run for a mid-distance race. I think I was 5th overall female, and I walked away with first in my age group. It was good awards too: a gift certificate to Road Runner Sports and a winter running cap.
So here's my beef. As I mentioned before, the water stops were a good 2-1/2 miles apart. The reason I chose this race to do was it fit into my schedule and it would be a good training distance for the marathon. I thought, "great, I don't have to carry my own supplies." What a bunch of crap! Two and a half miles between water stops was too far. I drink water every mile, which is what it should be on a racing course. I had cramps everywhere: my right ribs, my lower left quadrant of my stomach (around my hip), my lower back, and my right kidney area of my back. I'm not saying that having more water would have helped/hurt me on the course, but it would have made a difference in how I felt. I ate all my nutrition, but I wasn't able to take them at the normal time/distance intervals I'm used to. And, to cap it all off, the water was handed out in plastic cups. What race director doesn't know that plastic cups don't work!?! I should have been smarter. I knew the water stops were going to be few and far between. I should have carried my own water.
Although I'm not exactly ecstatic with my performance, I couldn't have done much better among the field and against the course. There still a few more weeks of meaningful long runs and one more race before the marathon. It's time to build on this and take it as a learning race. Moving on....