Sunday hubby and I did a 4-mile Valentine's race together; you had the option of running solo or as a team, so we opted for the latter. Weather forecasts all week called for showers this morning, but last night looking at the hourly forecast for the area, I saw that there might be a window of dry weather during some or all of the race. Rain isn't a big deal, but if I have a choice, I'll pick dry weather over wet!
We've done races in the area where this one was a couple of times now. It's about a 45-minute drive from our house to where the race was held, so it makes for a bit of an early morning but not too bad. After a little wandering and a quick online consultation to verify the address, we found the start of the race. Got checked in, made the obligatory potty stop, and got out to line up for the start just in time. There was a little mist when we first arrived, but by the time the race started, it had stopped--YES! No need for a hat, just the jacket as a windbreaker.
The race was on the same trail we had raced on before, but it was on a new section, so we had no idea what it would be like. We quickly found out: it is STEEP! This was a four mile race, two miles out and back; on the way out, we were heading down a steep hill, and all I could think was, we have to do this going UP on the way back. Not only was there a steep hill going down initially, then there was another steep hill going UP near the turnaround point. Hubby and I both decided up front that we were not going to kill ourselves trying to run the entire distance; we ran the bulk of it, but we walked periodically because of the hills.
Seriously, these were the steepest hills we've ever tackled; the sign I saw on the way back up said it's an 8% grade, and my Garmin showed an elevation gain/loss of 761 feet for the course. Great place to go practice running hills, but it was tough for a race when we haven't been running anything quite that steep.
Overall we were pretty happy with how we did: total time of 55:54, average pace of 13:53 minute mile by my Garmin, though I started mine a few seconds before crossing the start line. Fast? Not by any means, but we were not completely spent when we were done; by walking on some of the steepest portions, we could easily have gone another mile or two or more. For the record, our splits were as follows: 12:46, 13:42, 14:22, and 14:50--obviously slowing down by the end (man, I love the info from my Garmin!). We did manage a bit of a sprint at the end to cross the finish line, though, so we ended running, and I was happy enough with our pace. Considering where I started less than a year ago (my 'run' was probably slower than 15:30--and I could only do THAT for 60 seconds!), I know that it will only get better as I keep going.
As a matter of fact, this morning's treadmill run was 5K in 36:51. It will be fun to see how it goes with this weekend's long run outside.