I've discovered the secret to a good race: lower your expectations. I did just that and ended up being pleased with my Torchlight Run this year.
I love the heat but hate to run in it. I overheat quickly and every run feels like a slow slog through sludge when it is hot out. With these conditions in the weeks leading up to Torchlight I was concerned about how I would do come race night. I was worried I couldn't maintain a strong pace and would wilt in the heat of race day. Turns out all that worry was for naught; I did better than I expected. It was actually a personal worst for that course and distance but I was still pleased with my time.
Race day was hot and muggy; about 84 degrees at race time. Todd, Matt, Mike and Amber were running too which made it more fun knowing there were friends out there suffering along with me. The sun was hidden behind clouds so it didn't feel quite as hot as when it is blazing down on you. I fully expected to have to take walk breaks on this race but I felt strong throughout and only walked briefly at the water stations to make sure I drank properly. One cup of water in me and one on me was my game plan that night. The water over my head worked wonders too. Once again, the smell of the Hostess bakery made me sick to my stomach. Funny how something that normally would smell so yummy can make you want to puke when you are running.
Here are the splits:
Mile 1 10:26
Mile 2 10:53
Mile 3 9:47
The tunnel had to have messed with my mile 3 pace. There was no way I was holding that pace during that mile.
Mile 4 11:43 (WTF happened here?)
Mile 5 9:52 There was a nice downhill section here coupled with the fact I knew I was getting close to the finish line and would make it just fine this year probably lead to a faster time.
And, *sigh*, I actually ran an extra .26 miles at a 9:27 pace which, had the race been a 5.26 mile race would have lowered my overall pace to 10:29. Sadly, the course is only a 5 mile course which means my overall official pace was 11:02. Drat! I purposely tried to run the race mindful of not adding extra distance but I am quite clearly incapable of doing this. It happens every time out. I would blame my Garmin but when my brother borrowed it for a race last year it measured the exact distance so I know it is all me.
They changed the end of the course a little bit this year so it was hard to know when to kick. You turned around a corner and then the finish line was right on top of you. Other than that and the grand total of 18 port-a-potties at the start line the race was great as usual. It is such a kick to run down 4th Avenue with 100,000 people lining the street watching the race. OK, they are waiting for the parade to start so they are a bored and captive audience but it is still a great experience.
A good time was had by all even if not everybody was happy with their times. Hats off to Mike for running almost two miles more than he has ever done before and finishing the race looking strong. Not sure it is usually advisable to almost double the longest distance you have trained at for the first time on race day but it was gutsy and it worked for him. Yay Mike! After cleaning the stink of five miles off of us, the five of us headed out to the glorious 74th St. Ale House for tasty grub.