Apparently the secret to a good race is wine tasting, a cold and anger. If only I had known this earlier my race results would be so much better. Hal Higdon never put any of those in his training plans.
I guess I will start with the anger part of the race. See, I had this brilliant idea to have our friend pick up my brother's bib number and timing chip the day before the race so my brother didn't have to go through the hassle of getting it race day. Since Todd was going to pick his up that day it seemed like a good idea at the time. So off we go to the race, carpooling from my house and leaving in plenty of time. My brother chose not to carpool with us and instead said he would meet us at the race. A blunder. They moved the start line this year to South Lake Union which meant traffic back-ups from hell at the Mercer offramp and then getting to the parking area and then waiting in a long line to pay for parking. But we still ended up getting to the start line with about 20 minutes to go before the race started to find my brother.
Did I mention that the boys didn't set up an exact meeting location? My brother just said "at the start line". Well, let me tell you this new starting area had people packed in like sardines, no room to hardly move on the sidewalks. My brother was nowhere to be found near the start line. We looked and looked and looked. No bro. Now before I continue, let me explain something; my brother takes his racing very seriously. Very. Seriously. He is not laid back at all about these sorts of things. He likes to corral up early and be very focused on the task ahead. We knew he was going to be pissed. Really pissed. But what can we do? We tried. So the race starts and we hang out at the back thinking he might be hanging around and we can see him as the racers thinned out. Nope. Finally I gave Todd my brother's chip, because he is faster and that way my brother's time would at least be recorded at a pace similar to his own, and set off down the course pretty sure I might be disowned as a sister and then who would be my Dude of Honor at my wedding? Did I mention he takes his running very seriously. (Hi bro! Sorry again!)
The stress of the drive, the parking, the frustration of not finding my brother made me mad. I was hating everything and everyone around me. A teenage girl tried to rush across the street in front of a pack of runners and when she fell flat on the pavement I smiled. That was the kind of mood I was in. I was also pissed because the organizers started the 8K and the 5K at the same time this year which created a bottleneck down the parade route. Especially since we were supposed to keep to only the left side of the street because the 5K doubled back down the same street. I felt bad for the 5K runners because there was no signage that said this or anyone directing anybody that I could see and the 5K's had to run upstream against clueless 8K runners who were running right at 'em. Can you say clusterfuck? I can.
Anyway, I was bobbing and weaving down the street trying to get past all the walkers and slow people and kept getting jammed by people. I wanted to throw elbows so bad you have no idea. Finally off the parade route and a screamin' huge downhill on Seneca towards the Viaduct. Except, wait...there were people holding up on this section of the course. What the hell? It is a blissful downhill which is a great way to make up time with very little effort. Let gravity be your friend you freaks. But I digress.
Out on the viaduct southbound to the turnaround and then back up the viaduct the other way. Once again, splitting a street we have always had the whole width of in years passed created some blocking problems. I looked at my watch at the two mile mark and realized that a PR was a possibility. After mile three I thought I had it in the bag but made myself reign it in a little during mile four in case my spastic running earlier caused me to completely bonk. The incline leading to the Battery Street tunnel was a great feeling. People were tiring and starting to walk on this uphill but I kept powering through and picking people off. I guess running the hilly routes around my house has paid off. Then it was through the Battery Street tunnel and into the home stretch. I didn't feel like I was going that fast but I kept picking people off so it felt good.
I crossed the line, looked down at Garmin and thought: Holy crap! A PR. A serious PR. I finished in 48:09 which is a two-minute PR and a 9:41 pace. Not bad considering I was expecting a 10:15 pace based on recent training times. My previous Torchlight PR was a 50:09 in 2006 and I shaved seven minutes off my time from last year.
Here are the wacky, no pacing ability splits:
Mile 1 10:20 (bobbing, weaving, wanting to punch people)
Mile 2 9:10 (included three blocks of Seneca Street downhill)
Mile 3 9:56
Mile 4 10:06 (purposefully told myself to slow down or risk crapping out)
Mile 5 8:26 (Wha? What the hell?! I can't run an 8:26 mile. Especially at mile five of a race!!!)
The upshot is: I ran the race pissed off at our inability to find my brother, mad that we had caused him to be pissed off, pissed off at the poor race organization, pissed off at the crowding during what used to be a race where you could get a rhythm and not have to bob and weave, pissed off at the new start and finish line overcrowding, and apparently with enough residual training left in me to allow me to run a great race and PR. In fact, all of us ran a PR this time. Oh, the 69 degrees and overcast with a slight cooling breeze helped the cause too.
If they don't make a few fixes to the course next year I might not run this again which is a shame. This was one of my favorite races and something to look forward to every year. The old course had room to find a rhythm, more time on the parade route, more energy from the parade goers and a less claustrophobic start and finish line area. I hope they are able to make some changes for future races.