Gate River Run   Leave a comment

There I stood… in the fog… in the absolute middle of 15,000 people… awaiting the start… The race was on Saturday… but for me it started a few months ago.. when I first decided to sign up for this race I realized that I had almost gotten fast enough to qualify for a seeded race number and to be allowed to start at the front. Unbeknownst to me, I had narrowly missed qualifying in two of the races I did last fall. I had subsequently tried to qualify at a ½ marathon and a 10 miler and had failed miserably… I even thought that I had an outside chance of qualifying at the marathon I did last month… that was not to be either.

The Gate River Run is the largest race in Northeast Florida… by a large margin…. I got to the race start a full hour early… found the port-a-pottys and headed for the start…

One problem…. There was nowhere to go… the start line was barely in view and the road was packed with runners already… we managed to work our way into the throng near the 10 minute mile sign… no big deal I thought… … I just didn’t see the point… I figured that things would thin out soon enough…

Well, my friends, I was mistaken… But I am getting a bit ahead of myself.

The national anthem played… I could feel that those around me were somewhere between amused and annoyed that I insisted on singing along…but I always do….

The gun went off and a mere 3 minutes later we crossed the start line

The first two miles were crazy/crowded/jovial/infuriating/familiar… the plan was to keep it easy and relaxed… In my attempts to qualify for this race I had done a couple of races where I had gone out too hard and crashed dramatically… My #1 goal for the day was a PR… and I knew that no heroics were required… just a steady pace.

Although I tried to keep it easy… I ended up dancing, sprinting, slowing down to a crawl…running diagonally across the road, across the grass down the sidewalk… once I even did this half pirouette to squeeze through a tiny break in the traffic. I had decided to race by feel… okay I “decided” one mile in when my Garmin went out to lunch… I just went by feel and weaved in and out of the crowd…

At around mile 3 I passed an old friend… the *other* Susan Wallis (i.e. not Layne’s lovely wife J) she has been injured and unable to race for a while… it was great to see her out there again…

From 3-6 miles I ran just a few glances at my now mistrusted Garmin… that told me that I was running an 8ish pace… even at the 6 mile mark I was still tight roping the curb to squeeze past people…

At the 10k mark I finally did a little math… the numbers told me that if I ran around an 8:30 pace.. I would have a PR… while this was good news… I had hoped for even better news… nothing to do at the time but run… so I just kept going.

The trademark of this race is the “Green Monster”… this monster is simply the Hart bridge that spans the St John’s river… the closest thing to a good hill one can scale on foot in the area…. The ascent of the bridge is the second half of the 8th mile… when I arrived at the bottom my pace slowed a little and I could feel myself downshift into my survival mode Ironman shuffle… after 30 seconds or so I had a little talk with myself… and why I was not busting my @$$ to get to the top…

In an instant my mindset changed and I decided to run that effin hill like it was an interval…

I just kept picking runners out and running them down… when I reached the top I just kept going… I screamed down the other side towards the fiish line… later review showed that my pace for mile 9 down the bridge was 7:07…

At the bottom of the bridge and just a little ahead of me I saw Ilan, an associate from my old job… Ilan is fast… and has qualified for Boston before… Just as I recognized him the finishing chute came into view… I sprinted… dodgins and slippeing past people and snuck up on Ilan and nipped him at the line.

At the finish line I saw my old friend Shawn.. he had beaten me by a mere minute….

All in all an excellent day for a run… and I think a pretty well run race… Based on the fact that I had so much left for the last 2.5 miles I wonder if I left it all on the course or if I still held some back…
After the previous implosions from going out too fast, I think I’ll take it tho… and it was afterall… an almost 2 minute PR…

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Posted March 17, 2009 by Judi Cowart in Uncategorized

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