This race was a bit of an afterthought. I needed to run 10 at marathon pace this weekend so when I saw this race I figured 9.3 was close enough. I've done this race 2 of the last 3 years and it is one of the few long races in Orlando so it's one I like to do.
The last two were pretty hot so I was nervous about the weather, but today was about as lovely as you could ask for in FL in September. The humidity wasn't too bad and even as the sun came up, there was no sense of scorching heat blazing down on you. I'm sure finishing 10+ min faster helped too, but even after the race the weather seemed nice.
After a wonderful 40th birthday party last night followed by a not-so-good night's sleep, I wasn't sure about how I would do. I really wanted to hit my 8:11 target pace and knew that would get me close to 1:15, but if it felt too hard I was ready to back off and make this a training run.
I got a great parking space not too far from the start but still outside the route so I wouldn't get stuck after. I warmed up by running to Lake Eola and watched the sunrise over the lake as I finished my 0.7 to make an even 10 for the day. Between the cooler weather, nerves, and somewhat fresh legs things seemed to be going well and I locked in my pace at 8:10 without too much effort. I watched the start of the 5k and then was one of the first people at the starting line and found a good spot near the 8:00 pace marker.
The start was pretty good. Even though they had us come forward to the starting line to fill in the space, there wasn't a log jam and I was able to lock in my pace.
The first few miles were uneventful. We did a quick lap around a block downtown before heading up Orange to Kaley. Kaley was right into the sun and then around 2.75 I think someone puked and another guy almost tripped over a cone. I checked my pace at the mile markers and was staying around 8:05. I was feeling really good finishing mile 3 and started to work on my strategy: keep it easy and on schedule through the halfway point and maybe pick it up after that. For the first 4-5 miles I was racing the clock but after that I was racing people.
My pace didn't really pick up much in miles 6-7 but I was still going strong while some others were withering. It was a great feeling to be passing people this year after bonking big time last year and feeling like everyone passed me. In spite of moving up in the pack, mile 6 was the slowest as I got ready for the last 5k.
The last few miles I pushed a bit. I felt like I was at about a 7:55 pace but I guess after 6 miles 8:00 feels like 7:55 (and yes I can tell the difference).
I knew with 1.5 left I was home free. I knew I could push harder but for some reason I chickened out. Maybe because the few people who passed me were still in reach, I just kept cruising to the last half mile. Then I started picking up the pace. With about 600m left I passed Ray from my running group and gave him an awkward high-five-fist-bump and tried to get him to come with me on my kick as I ran by. When I got past mile 9 and to the last 400m I knew I had one hell of a kick in me. As I turned the corner to the home stretch I took off. There was a "young guy" I caught up with and said something like "Come on! Let's get 'em!" He tried to hang with me (and failed) as we weaved through the finishers. I finished in typical fashion - pumping my fists and woohooing. I crossed the line, whooped and hollered some more, grabbed my medal (probably a bit aggressively) and before I knew it had caught my breath. I found my kick partner and we fist-bumped. He looked rough. One of the volunteers asked if he was ok. According to Garmin I hit a 4:35 max pace on my kick. I believe it. I was hauling much ass.
After the race, I ran into Ray again and 2 ladies from my group and one of the guys who hasn't run with us for a while (he kicked my ass).
Statistically, this was a great race for me. Finished in 1:15:03, 24 of 103 in my new age group, 133 of 707 men, and 186 of 1761 overall. Beat my previous PR by over 12 minutes.
Splits: 8:06, 8:09, 8:05, 8:11, 8:08, 8:12, 8:02, 8:01, 7:51, 6:32 (0.35)