Would you consider a race a success even if you didn't make the time you wanted? What if you missed the finish line? (What?!)
Well...I didn't PR like I had hoped to do in this race, and, yes, I did miss the 10k finish line. It was a problematic morning for me, but the atmosphere was great and I really enjoyed eventually crossing the finish line at home plate in PNC Park.
My official time was 59:44 --that was after running two extra bridges, getting off the course at the Clemente statue, walking thru to the other side of PNC Park to where the racers were running in toward the outfield to finish the race, joining the procession, and finally finishing. Now that I got that off my chest, according to my Garmin, I ran 10k (6.2 miles) in 47:16. That would have officially put me at 9th in my age group (instead of 35th) just in front of the guy who officially finished in 9th with 47:39. He had been ahead of me at the split with 23:05. I had a 23:06 split and later I passed him in the stretch just before the turn off to the finish. I went left; he went right--pun intended.
Anyway, 47:16 was a PR for my Garmin, even though it wasn't a PR for me. My PR goal was 45:25; my optimal goal was 43:00. Despite not reaching either goal, and having some trouble at the end, I learned a lot in my first race of the season.
The morning started off pretty well at home with all of my preparation, but I didn't allow enough time to get downtown, park and practice some warm-up runs in a relaxed way before the start of the race. As it was, I got there late, had to park far away and then had to jog to the start with Lance, my son, who came with me for support. We arrived at the start two minutes before the beginning of the race.
When the race began, I started off with the crowd running too fast for at least the first quarter mile. Soon after that, I settled in close to my desired race pace and stayed with it for about the first four miles of the race. Around the end of mile four, I had some water and walked 20 seconds at the Clemente Bridge drink station, but after that I felt like I couldn't get myself back up to speed to catch my PR time in the final 2.2 miles. The runners out ahead of me who I targeted in those final miles were also slowing their paces which I didn't know until it was too late.
What are a few key things I learned from this race?
1. Get to the race early enough to find parking, warm-up and relax before the race starts.
2. Stay with my game plan. Be careful not to start off too fast with the crowd. Remember that I've done all the calculations ahead of time, and if I stick with the game plan, then I'll earn the time that I want.
3. Keep training because that's the true key to improving race times. Run more races because that's the best way to test myself.
4. Study the course before the race. Know where it begins and where it ends so that there will be no question about where to go at the end of the race. If I miss another finish, it will, again, be no one's fault but my own.
These lessons are required learning if there is any hope of qualifying for the the Boston Marathon at the Wineglass Marathon this year.