Blame it on Ladd and Bob. They ran with me for the first 7.5 miles or so of the Inland Trail Marathon. And of course I wound up going faster than I had planned. I did inform them that I'd be blaming them for something, no matter how my race turned out.
Expectations were decidedly not high. Although I've been saying that I'm on the upswing, I was still certain that I still lost a bunch of fitness in the past few months. So the plan was to go out at an 8-minute pace, and possibly try to pick it up in the second half. Negative splits always feel good. A sub-3:30 would be fine with me, thank you.
Except Bob, Ladd and I didn't go out at an 8-minute pace. We went out at a 7:40 or so pace. I didn't complain too much. The cool temperatures and slight headwind felt fine, and I wasn't hurting.
When Ladd and Bob turned around to run half-marathoner Marsha in, I maintained the same pace, more or less, for the rest of the first half. It was fun seeing Marsha and the other MCRR half-marathoners go by. I turned around with 1:41:20 on the clock. Near the turnaround I saw Michelle, Dan and Jack. Cool.
Now I began to think I might be able to run 3:20 or even slightly better. All I needed to do was to maintain a 7:30 pace for the entire second half, and I'd have it in the bag. Now the wind was partially to my back, and I did do several consecutive 7:30's. It felt good to run strong and pass people.
Somewhere around mile 20 or 21, the math started to not work out quite so well. I hate when that happens. There I was, running with the same, or slightly more effort, yet those 7:30's were slipping north. With a couple miles left, it began to appear that a sub-3:20 was out of the question, and then my hamstring began to cramp. Not a total knot, but almost. I knew that I had to slow it down some more or risk winding up with a hamstring turned into a pretzel.
The wind was in my face for the tough final 3/4 mile, and I slowed even more, coming in at 3:22 and change. This was good for first in the Geezer Division and 13th overall. The medal says, "First Place Overall", not "First in Age Group".
I do really love this race. It's straight, out and back, usually great weather, straight, flat, fast and straight. Some folks don't care for the straight part, but it don't make no nevermind as far as I'm concerned. I only wish I had been in slightly better shape today.
So what can I blame Bob and Ladd for? If I'd gone out at an 8-minute pace, I'd have done much bigger negative splits (as it was, my second half was faster than my first by about 20 seconds). But I probably would have still been slower overall (but perhaps felt a little better physically). So maybe I should thank them. Nah.
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