A note about this race before I start in on the race report. I have run this race twice and both times a runner tragically died doing something they loved. RIP to our fellow runners who have passed on. (I am beginning to think I am a jinx for this race and should stay away).
Downtown Tulsa, OK is very hilly. I should have remembered this from last time I ran this race, but somehow between the course change and 2 years away I had forgotten just how hilly it was. Now just to make it interesting we will throw in 20 mph winds from the South and make it humid. Okay - now race!
Pre-Race: Nothing drastically different here. Followed my eating from the Flying Pig almost to the bread stick. I wasn't near as hungry this time as last though so it was harder to eat as much. I don't feel that pre race fueling had anything to do with this race. Woke up morning of the race to the wind whistling through the downtown sky scrapers. hmmm, this doesn't sound good. Good news was that it was going to be a nice day so I wouldn't have to worry about being cold the first few miles.
Race: The race used starting corrals this year. I wish more big races would go to this, it really kept the walkers out of the front of the line and kept most of the log jams minimal (as in a 10 min pace runner in with 9 min pace group). I was in the second corral and positioned myself about midway through with the 2:05 pace group right in front of me. The first mile of the race was an uphill and I knew I wanted to take it slow. I figured I would see what the pace group did and go from there. Because it was so crowded at the beginning we couldn't get much over a 10 minute pace going up the hill, so good things had no trouble going out to fast. Apparently the first 7 miles of this race was through the hillest portion of Tulsa. Even though I had done no hill training I was able to tackle all the hills while sticking to a 9:30 pace (I think I would slow down on the uphill then speed down). We went through some really rich areas of town, very scenic. The wind also was not a factor in this part. If we were running into the wind we would either be sheltered by the hill we were running up or thankful for the wind to cool us as we ran down hill(humidity was about 80% for the race - ick). Took a gel around 5.5 when my legs started feeling the effects of the hill and I kept pushing myself. I hit the 10K mark at about 59:30 and was really happy with my time. Things seemed to be going just as planned.
Mile 1-7 splits: 10:02, 9:37, 9:26, 9:26, 9:19, 9:28, 9:24
At mile 7.5 of so we leave the nice neighborhoods we had been running in and head out to an overpass crossing the river through the city. We made a giant 3 mile triangle over several streets, and i swear the entire time we were running into the wind. Somewhere around 8.5 my legs just gave out. I had been steadily in front of the 2:05 pace group the entire time and figured when I started to tire I would just join them. Well I guess there pacer's idea for the race was to run some serious negative splits so that the hills were easier and time was made up on the flats. They flew by me. I had to revert to a run walk strategy, but made sure I ran atleast a mile between each walk section, and if possible made it to the water stop. I really hated that I had to get to the point, but by this time we were running along side the river, straight into the wind, on flat road. There was no way around it. My pace dropped drastically. I took my second gel but I felt like it did no good. My legs kept getting heavier and heavier and I fought just to keep going. Finally made it to the turn around so the wind was at my back, but I was so spent I couldn't utilize the wind to pick up speed. I concentrated on just making it through mile 12 so I could sprint the final bit. And can I say that the final .1 miles was up a hill! Seriously made us climb to the finish??? Once I got to the top and saw the finish line I took off and managed to find a 7:00 pace.
Miles 8-13 splits: 9:59, 9:34, 10:00, 10:33, 10:20, 10:00, 8:41
Final time: 2:08:36
I was disappointed. When I found out the wind was going to be strong I changed my race goals to 2:05 outside chance, PR, and finish without crashing. I reached one goal of a PR (40 seconds that it was). I felt like I lost it at 8ish, which I was worried I would because I had such a problem with tempo runs the last 8 weeks. I've come to some conclusions looking ahead to training next year that I will address later. But most of all I want to go back out and try again, I wish I could have a redo on a great day, because I know I could do it. But once again I will take what I have learned and apply to the next race.
Ultimately I have to remember that 4 months ago I hurt my back and had to take a month off running. I have to realize I lost alot in that time, and that I wasn't going to be at the same level I was at the Flying Pig. If I can hold onto this training I know I can apply it to next Spring and really hit it hard, I just have to keep things in perspective. It's just so hard to do when you have your ultimate goal in reach and you drop it.