Ambulance chase - This is the view for the whole race for the 1st place runner
I seeded myself just behind the front row to ensure I didn’t have to fight for position at the start. The challenge with the first mile in this race was that it had 2 decent hills, both within the first .5 mile, so pacing was certainly a challenge. I went out at my comfortably fast pace, knowing I was holding back pretty good. Once we got past those 2 hills, I opened up just a little and tried to find some people to pace off. I noticed 2 people just in front that had remained in the same position relative to me since the gun, so I figured they would be a good set of pacers, since they had not faded and looked to be running smooth. We crossed the Mile 1 marker in 6:30, which was about 10s faster than planned, but my legs still felt like they had life and I knew the hardest mile of the race was behind me.
I made it my goal to begin picking up the pace as we started Mile 2, which coincidentally, so did my pacers. More or less, I just stayed on their shoulders. Mile 2 had quite a few turns and I was worried that it would take some kick out of my legs, but I pressed on. I opted not to grab water at the only aid station, because it was located out of the way from where we running (poor placement on their part) and would have cost me valuable time. I figured with 10 minutes to go, I can suffer. We came through Mile 2 in 6:15.
With the last mile to go, I picked up the pace a bit more and took advantage of a nearly .5 mile downhill, because I had to go up another hill, before turning around and back down it toward the finish and wanted to get a good pace rolling into it. I was still hanging on the shoulder of the two pacers and when we finally hit .25 miles to go, I began picking it up some more. I passed one of the pacers on the final uphill to the finish and hit Mile 3 in 6:11. With just .1 mile to go, I opened up my stride and sprinted home, finishing just behind my other pacer, who ended up being the women's overall winner, finishing with an identical time to me. Final time 19:31.
Like most shorter distance races, the biggest challenge is pacing and maintaining the mental strength to continue to push through the pain. In addition to my "don't run the first mile too fast" mantra, I also adopted another - "it's only 20 freaking minutes!". I nearly said that out loud toward the end, when I had to dig deep to keep pushing. Fortunately, I only needed to say it in my head
I think I finally learned a lesson about pacing! I find it funny that my Mile 1 splits were 50s apart between my 2 most recent 5ks, but the 50s slower split yielded a 34s faster finish time. Teach yourself the pace you want to run, so there is no guesswork on race day!
We stuck around for the awards ceremony after the race and I found out finished 1st in my Age Group (30-39) and 6th overall. The prizes were some free bowling games and a gift certificate to Target - woo hoo!