Official time: 1:25:00. Overall: 11th out of 370.
I was looking forward to this race for a while. Previously this 1/2 marathon was held in September but they moved it to March to avoid a lot of the fall competition. Smart move. It had plenty more runners than in year's past. My last official 1/2 marathon was this race back in 2011 - I finished with a time of 1:53. I've run as low as 1:42 during some perky long runs. I was hoping to break 1:30 this time. All it would take is 6:50 miles. Based on my last few months of running I thought this was very doable.
I arrived an hour early with Amanda who was running the 5k and Em who was volunteering at Water Stop #4 with her friend. I'm glad we had picked up our bibs the day before - less stress on race day. Met up with the usual WTAC speedsters and did a two mile warm-up. It was brisk but a hat and gloves did the trick. Then it was time to take to the line.
We took off and I quickly settled into a 6:30 pace. A little faster than I had intended but it didn't feel like work so I just went with it. The first couple miles feature two out and backs on small seaside streets - it gave me a change to see the guys ahead of me (Mike G in the lead with Muddy and Jeff not too far behind) and then the throngs of runners behind me. It felt good to be near the front of the race and not boxed in by runners all around. After two miles my position was more or less set and I found myself without many runners around me.
At mile 4 I passed I guy in what looked like a Boston marathon jacket and then turned the corner and saw Em at the water station which gave me a boost of energy. I was now on Matunuck Schoolhouse Road - a long stretch of rolling asphalt which passes lots of farmland. I saw Jeff W and another racer far off in the distance but otherwise I was alone.
Around mile 5 I started to hear clomp clompy footsteps behind me. It was Boston marathon guy again. He caught up and then settled into a position behind me. His clomp clompy footsteps and heavy breathing threw me out of my rhythm. I will still running at a 6:35-6:40 pace and didn't want anything to break my momentum. I've done my share of drafting off other runners in races so I can't complain too much. By mile 7 BM had passed me and I fell into a position a few hundred feet behind him.
The Green Hill section provided a minor hill and some windy neighborhood roads which were a welcome change from the loooong previous section. I just ran this section last week so I hit the tangents and closed the distance on Boston marathon guy. As we came out of Green Hill there is a 1/4 mile loop before heading back towards Matunuck. There was a single arrow pointing left and three distracted teenagers guarding the intersection. Poor BM turned right. The teens realized what had happened too late. They yelled to BM and so did I but to no avail. He didn't hear and continued on his way. No time to worry about him, I turned left and focused on maintaining my pace - still around 6:30.
At mile 9 the pace was beginning to feel like work. Frankly I was thrilled that it had taken this long. BM was now way ahead of me - I just focused on keeping my speed up, grabbing waters when I hit aid stations. I was in fact picking up steam. Miles 9-11 were all in the 6:20s. I began doing calculations in my head, figuring out how much time I had left. When I hit mile 11, I was in great spirits. Two miles to go and I felt another surge of energy. I was close to the end and about to crush my goal time - this realization really made me kick it into overdrive and I was able to bang out my two fastest miles of the day: 6:17 and 6:14.
Crossed the finish line in exactly 1:25:00. I was congratulated by Amanda and the girls, my mom and in-laws. Met up with the guys and learned of their triumphs. A big overall win for Mike Galoob. Third place for Muddy and 7th for Jeff. Boston Marathon guy approached me as his Garmin had measured short. I confirmed his fears when I told him that he had indeed skipped a section of the course. Did a four mile cooldown with the guys (the last two miles were the toughest of the day - legs were fried) and then loaded up on pizza and cookies back at the finish. Mike C had finished (and set a huge PR in the process) and I chatted with my buddy Matt, who loves the distance and has run something like 15 of 'em.
The heated tent had the food and the results which listed me as finishing 10th (they had disqualified BM.) But all the results online seem to include him, which bumps me back to 11th. Either way, I'm thrilled with my performance. Everything went according to plan, both pre-race and during. I was able to run faster than anticipated and I got stronger as the race progressed. Tri-Mom Productions does a great job with this event and I hope they keep it in March going forward.