Registration went quick and we lined up for the start of the race - the 5K, 1/2 marathon and Full marathon all would start at the same time. I took a gel with caffeine just before 8AM, however, due to some late arrivers they delayed the start of the race by about 15 minutes.
Jodie and I walked around for a little bit and then lined back up at the start and we were off. I intentionally started very slow. I surely did not want to get caught up in the 5k fast group and burn out. I watched my heart rate and kept it low and slow. Even though the pace was slow my right hamstring started to feel tight and ache just a little - this was in the first mile!
I was clicking along at 7:30+ / mile pace. I was trying to pace off of one of the fast women - I believe that she was in first or close to first place. She looked serious - running belt with numerous gels and a GPS watch that she was pacing off of. I was not going to let her slip away and tailed her for most of the race.
So I started slow and then by about the 4th mile I picked up my heart rate just a little. I was trying to keep it under 170. I would back off every time it jumped up. I kept this up until right around mile 8 (just under an hour). I allowed my heart rate to increase to the low / mid 170's. I still felt strong but did not want to bonk or to have to slow the pace. In retrospect I should have increased my heart rate much earlier in the race. I was pacing myself off of training heart rates and not race heart rates. During a race my heart rate automatically goes up by 5 - 10 beats per minute. I had been slowly passing people along the way
At mile 12 it was time to go for broke and I gave everything. I ran as hard as I could and passed several more people. Terry, local fast guy from the pine belt pacers, passed me at the water station at this point. I tried to hang with him but he calmly and smoothly pulled away. He had finished second in the 'Hobble then Gobble' race 2 days prior. The thing is - these are training runs for Terry. His race is next weekend - the Baton Rouge Beach Marathon. Terry is just fast.
Okay, back to me. I saw Terry pulling away and I kept my pace up and continued to pass people in those last miles. I tried and tried to pull in this one person that was right in front of me. However, it was to no avail - I finished just a few seconds behind this guy (I mean like 4 seconds). Come to find out that he was in my age group and it looked like I placed 19th overall and 4th in my age group - no awards / no prizes.
During the post race party someone pointed out to me that I had counted the age groupers wrong. One of the people that I counted was female and so that bumped me up to 3rd in my age group - a medal after all!
Shortly after I finished and while Jodie was still on the course it started to rain. And rain hard it did. I had already changed into my dry clean clothes and I got soaked. I can not imagine what the people running the full marathon were thinking when that rain came.
All in all it was a very good experience. My hamstring is hurting again - I will still have to nurse it for a while. I will keep the miles up on the bike and take the running slow and steady.