Writing this as I relax on the couch with pizza and Netflix. This morning was the 20 Mile Drop and the fun started at the crack of dawn this morning....well, actually earlier than that, like 4:30am...
Brief summary of this race: I ran the ten mile version last year and decided to use the 20 mile version as my training because it fits quite nicely. The course is a net downhill, so the elevation drops significantly by the time you finish. My goal was to hold 8:40-8:45 since this was a training run afterall. I've been experimenting this week with carbohydrate depletion (as I will discuss in my weekly training recap) but let's just say that I will definitely be doing that again for the Cleveland Marathon. I got all carbed up last night and headed off to bed early as I knew my alarm would be going off at 4:30. My mom stayed with me the night before to go with me and to drive in the morning. When the alarm went off, I got up and had my cup of coffee, cup of water, cup of Nuun, banana, and 3 pieces of gluten free toast. We left for Fairport Harbor at 5:15 and got there at 6ish. I waited in line for the portapotty and then boarded the bus which would take us to the start.
The bus dropped us off at the start at about 6:55 with the race starting at 7:15. I got in line for one last portapotty stop and after I hung out with my mom and made the decision to get my gator since it was a real feel of 15 degrees. They pushed back the start to 7:20 since the line for the portapotties was so long. I lined up at 7:15 and the gun went off at 7:20.
The first mile sucked because in order to keep the race all downhill or flat, they had to loop us around the downtown square twice. I worked into my pace and after the square we turned out and downhill which made me kick it up a notch. We then dipped onto the new bike path where we stayed for several miles.
Around mile 2, I made friends with those around me and we began to talk. Denise and Craig were a couple who run all of this organization's events. We talked for a long time and Craig pulled about .1 to .2 miles ahead. Denise and I continued to talk and share stories and Ida fell into place next to us. Ida is a relatively new runner (October of last year) who is training for the Cleveland Marathon as her first. We gave her advice and just chatted in general. The miles flew by with us holding 8:20s-8:25s. Around mile 8.5 we passed my mom and she snapped some photos. Then it was an uphill loop through a neighborhood followed by downhill onto the main road and back onto the bike path at 10 miles.
When we got back onto the trail, we all stuck together as we caught up to Craig and their friend named John. We all talked and shared stories until about mile 12 where Ida stayed at a water stop to slow up and the others wanted to hold 8:20s so I decided to back down a little, yet, keep them in my sights. At the 13 mile mark I had caught back up on them and we ran up a hill and out of the park. We crossed the street and I saw my mom. I let the others go ahead because I realized I was on pace to finish 14 in under 2 hours, meaning I was going too fast, so I stopped by my mom for a few seconds to grab a bottle of Nuun and a new gel. I took off after that holding around 8:40s.
I ran from 13.5 to 15 alone, but with the others in my sights. Around 15.5 I chatted with another run for a brief couple of minutes about pacing and goals. I got a runner's high though and took off. Around 16, I was cruising and all of the sudden the runner next to me (whom I had been running with but not talking to) drops an f-bomb. I was confused until I saw the train crossing sign come down about half a mile ahead. We knew that it was a possibility (it happened last year) but hoped it would be quick. We got lucky as we didn't even have to stop because as we approached, the train ended and the arms came up.
At 17 I caught back up to Craig, John, and Denise. I ran with them until about mile 18, but they decided to start a little kick and that was too early for me. I backed off, holding about 8:40-8:45. 18-19 sucked but I kept telling myself how close I was and that the last mile would be easy and short. At 19 I started to kick it up to about 8:25. I held pretty consistent until 19.70 when I really started by kick, dropping to 8 min miles and then I saw my dad waiting for me. I ramped up to 7:45 and I high fived him before rounding the turn onto the snow covered grass behind other runners finishing. There was a line of us because it was snow covered and muddy and uphill, so the first guy was taking it slow. I didn't want to finish at a 10 minute mile, so at the first chance I darted around because I was slipping more going slow. I crossed the finish at 2:50:53 or 8:33/mile with a giant smile on my face.
I reunited with my friends who came in about 15 seconds before me at 8:31/mile and we waited for Ida. She also came in under 3 hours (amazing for her second ever 20 miler!) and we all talked and exchanged info. I headed over with my parents to the pancake breakfast and got food but had no appetite. I forced down a banana and a Honey Stinger Waffle plus a bunch of Nuun, water and chocolate milk. I changed my clothes which felt amazing because it was still a real feel of 20 degrees.
While I took this race too fast, I talked with my running partner, and he wasn't too worried about it because I didn't go out and run marathon pace or anything, and I felt good doing it, plus the fact that it was all down hill. He did make me promise to take a couple off days this week and to take the rest of my runs this week easy. I was only about 4 minutes too fast overall. All in all, it was a great day and turned out better and easier than I could have imagined, even with frigid temps!