Monday, May 20, 2013

Beat the Bridge

My trainer talked me into running the Beat the Bridge 8K at the last minute. I know 8K isn't very long (in the grand scheme of, say, marathon training - it's a HUGE victory for others and I don't mean to discount that), but it would be longer than I've run since Eugene. To say that I've been very cautious/lazy about my recovery and amping back up the miles would be...generous.

After stopping by Safeway for a bagel, I hopped the bus over to the University District from my house, although the bus was diverted, so we actually ended up walking quite a ways. I didn't mind, but I was glad that I'd left with plenty of time and, after seeing the traffic back-ups, I was pretty darn glad that I'd opted for taking the bus - even with the detours! I had no problem signing up and getting my (large) bib. I even managed to find some SGLRG'ers for a pre-race photo!
Then I raced over to the start line for another photo with the peeps from the gym, before squeezing somewhere into the corrals. When asked about my game plan, I think I said that I was aiming for 10:30s the first two miles, then to drop down to 10:00 for miles three and four, before laying it all out there for the last mile.

I went off with the third wave, but I have no idea what pace that was meant to be - the people with the signs had long-since disappeared. I wasn't super slow or super fast for the people I ended up running with, so it must have been ok?

The theory with Beat the Bridge is that you're trying to get to University Bridge before they raise it (it's a drawbridge), approximately 20 minutes after the last person crosses the start line. I knew this probably wouldn't be an issue for me, but I really, really felt like my pride would be hurt if I didn't beat the bridge. Silly, I know! I heard from other people later (ok, twitter and facebook) that they thought the bridge was raised way early, but I definitely did beat it and was long gone before it was raised. I did think it was amusing to see just how many people clearly burned up a ton of energy getting to the bridge - there was a pretty big "walk break" brigade just on the other side of the bridge!

I enjoyed this route, too. I run a lot of those streets or their adjacent trails pretty regularly, so I felt like I was familiar territory (although I'm usually on the sidewalk, not running down the middle of the street). I mean, it probably isn't going to win any awards for beauty, but they're places that I enjoy running, so I liked it. I liked that there were a few little rolling hills, because I like forcing myself to keep pushing up them and I enjoy feeling strong when I do! One of my favorites is the long ascent up the far side of University Bridge - I've run that a lot and have felt pretty pathetic doing so at times, so it was awesome to keep chugging past all the people walking it.

SO. I have to say that I was SO PLEASED with my run, which was faster and stronger than I could have imagined. My splits were 10:03, 10:00, 10:03, 9:28, and 9:04 (or it would have been, if it were a full mile), for an average of 9:44. CAN WE SAY "NEGATIVE SPLIT?!" It was a huge confidence booster to be able to drop my pace like that after a not-even-super-conservative first three miles. I mean, if I can work on my endurance, I think the speed is definitely there for a great end of summer half marathon! I think I'm absolutely guilty of underestimating my own abilities, so to run a race where I didn't get intimated by the paces and where I had the confidence to tell myself to just keep going, rather than backing off, is really, really exciting.

Although, my official time was 48:13 and 9:42 pace.
Clearly, I couldn't figure out which timing mat was the start line.
Afterwards, I met back up with the gym crowd, briefly, before fighting my way out of there, grabbing my gear, and finding the bus home. The whole post-race thing was super badly organized and a complete mess. Plus, there was hardly any food. I had to fight for a water and then, were were given a reusable shopping bag (very nice!) with a single mini Clif bar. And there were bananas. But, nothing else. I was so grateful that I still had a third of a bottle of nuun and an extra bagel in my checked bag, because there definitely wasn't enough post-race fuel for a race of this length. I don't know that I'd run it again, but, since I'll be in NJ this time next year, that really isn't much of an issue.

Oh! And it was a rather huge PR (even though it's hardly a fair comparison - I ran my only other 8K purely for fun, the day before a half marathon) by 6:24. I would have won my age group, instead of placing third, if I'd run this fast at that race!