Inexplicably, my mind drifted to something my running enabler friend Doug had mentioned during the week prior about a Thanksgiving half marathon in Extreme North Raleigh. I had initially rejected the idea as silly because the course involved two (different) out-and-backs on ROADS and Extreme North Raleigh is FAR. But alas, it would probably be the best way to get a feel for how hard I should go out (effort-wise, not time-wise) at Run at the Rock, so I went ahead and signed up with the goal of finishing out my regular training week and running 8:15s for the first 10 miles and seeing how things went from there.
My regular training week ended up being a little harder than normal thanks to a second hard-ish long run Sunday (to try out my awesome-tastic new hydration vest) and a more intense than expected speedwork session Weds morning (who put those two giant hills in that second 2k?), so I was feeling a little sluggish and beat down Thurs morning, and I was definitely apprehensive about my ability to even maintain 8:15s.
Luckily, the first two miles are downhill, so maintaining 8:15s was SUUUPER easy... also, so was maintaining 7:45s... heh. heh. uh oh.
Fortunately, I was able to rein myself in to a couple of miles in the 8 min range and didn't feel too much worse for the wear. The next couple miles involved some hills (including ascending the mile 2 hill) and some disgruntled gentlemen who weren't super excited about being passed by a girl. The second half(ish) of the race wound through a nice older Wakefield neighborhood with some good rolling hills and then wandered up a straight road I never caught the name of only to turn around in front of some old gas station/store and come back to the start/finish (where we would need to re-ascend the mile 1 descent). In the back of my mind, I kept track of all the downhills on the way out so I would know what I would have to contend with on the way back (did I mention there were two giant hills in the second 2k of the workout the morning before? I was beginning to think this might come back to haunt me as the hill counter kept ticking upward). I figured the leaders would be coming back at me about the time I hit 8 miles (their 10), so I was a bit gratified when I breezed by the 8 mile mark with no leaders in sight. About half a mile later, I saw a familiar wiggly gait coming up the road toward me following the lead bike and went to high-five my lovely husband, Ronnie, who was apparently winning the race! This was almost a beautiful moment except instead of the expected "good job!" or "love you!" I heard "Are you okay?" escape his lips.
Ummm. Hunh? I think so... So then there were a few moments of deep self-examination upon which I concluded that a) I was fine, b) Ronnie was probably delusional from being in the lead, and c) this was definitely going to get mentioned a BUNCH of times in the coming weeks!
The rest of the race went pretty smoothly - I made it up all the hills (though I did feel the legs a little bit toward the end) and did not do anything heroic and stupid that would jeopardize my ability to obtain sweet sweet redemption the following weekend. The only slightly disappointing bit was I missed my "stretch" goal of feeling good and finishing under 1:45 by 2 seconds. TWO. SECONDS. Sigh.
Also, I would find out the next day that I may have slightly strained my hamstring with the combo of back-to-back hard-ish runs and launching off at 7:40 pace on a cold morning with no warm-up. You'd think I'd learn at some point, but... well... no - you wouldn't think that at all.