I know it's been too long since the latest edition of the RI's biggest race - The Blessing of the Fleet 10 Miler back on July 24th. Here's a briefer than usual recap:
I came into the race well rested.
I wasn't nervous at all the day of.
I was determined to run T-pace and just hold on.
I didn't want to go out too fast (adrenaline and down hill).
The weather was decent (overcast and 70's at the start, down pour for 3+ miles near end).
I fueled well pre-race (pbj and granola bar 3:30pm, GU 10 minutes before 6pm start, well hydrated).
I spent pre-race hanging with and warming up with Garvin and Woolley. But did a bigger warm up of WTAC teammates including Gazelle Sr & Jr, Mike B, Jonny E. Lots of familiar faces up front on the line. I got off nice and controlled. Tons of people already ahead of me. I tried to just stick with Dave Principe, as he told me at the start that his plan was to run 5:50 pace and he is a disciplined runner, so I figured he would stick to it and not go out too fast.
Sticking with Dave early on
I have to admit to a lot of watch watching during this race. I had it on manual laps and I just let it run, focusing on my overall race pace. 1st mile was a touch fast in 5:44. I moved ahead of Dave, Bob Jackman, and 1st female Marie Davenport (who I did a tempo run with a few weeks prior and she said then she was hoping to race in the mid 5:40's). Feeling good.
Near the 1st mile marker. Slightly ahead of Bob and Marie
Mile 2 is a slight incline on Ocean Rd. Dave and Bob passed me briefly, but I passed them when they got stuck behind some slower running traffic on a hill. The clock read 11:36 (5:52 mile 2). Mile 3 has a little bump and then a longer downhill as the course continues down Ocean Rd. I maintained my position ahead of Dave, Bob, and Marie. I forget what the clock read at 3 miles, GPS had it at 5:42. My watch was showing my overall pace as 5:47/5:48. I secretly wanted to maintain this, even though it was faster than my T-pace (5:52).
Mile 4 is flat and exposed along Scarborough State Beach and then rises after turning onto Knowles Way. I caught a few people here and really made sure to stay tough. GPS had me at 5:50. I wasn't noticing Bob and Dave anymore. I knew Marie was still lurking by the support she was getting from the spectators. Mile 5 is miserable. It runs along a 4 lane highway (Rte 108). It looks flat, but is a slow riser. Experience has taught me this can be the slowest mile in the race. I really tried to maintain my speed and worked hard to get a 5:51 GPS mile. At this point I hit the lap button on my watch (which was still showing 5:48 average pace). 29:08 split.
Mile 6 is another downer on Rte 108. According to Strava, it rises 53', but looks pancake flat. Experience again led me to try harder than I might normally. The skies were getting darker and lightning could be seen in the distance (where the course was headed). Walkers became an issue. My split was 6:02, but the grade adjusted pace was 5:47, so the effort was there. Mile 7 is on a wooded back road. The skies opened up and it began to pour. Lightning was in the vicinity, and many walkers began running for cover. Thanks to the closed road, I was able to have the oncoming traffic lane all to myself. I was feeling pretty good and knew that I could finish in decent shape from here (unless I got struck by lightning or the race got cancelled). Mile 7 was 5:51 on my GPS.
Mile 8 continues on a back road and then dumps back out onto the main road the race begins on. A lot of the parties along the route here had gone inside as the rain continued to pour down and there was still lightning. I was hoping to pick it up after this, but my legs didn't have another gear. I was running a perfect pace for the whole race. Mile 8 was a tad slow, probably due to the poor road conditions (puddles everywhere, shoes soaked). 5:58 according to GPS.
Mile 9 is tricky: downhill, uphill, then downhill. The uphill is noticeable and the biggest "hill" on the course. I stopped hearing people cheer for Marie. I was surprised that I was probably going to beat her today. I did my best on the hill and then tried to take advantage of the down hill. GPS mile 9 was 5:54.
Mile 8 or 9 misery.
One more mile to go. Another gradual downhill and then flat finish. Walkers are tough along 1A, as the road is open to traffic and there isn't much room for those of us racing. Also, it was just one big puddle. I really tried to let my legs loose, but again no response. The final straightaway is so freaking long. I got passed here which was annoying. I glanced back and saw that no one else was going to run me down. I couldn't really sprint the finish. Final GPS mile 5:36. Official finishing time 58:39!! 29:31 2nd half split (5:52 average).
Closing in on the finish.
Post race was interesting. I did a cool down with Garvin and Woolley and ended up at a former 3X Super Bowl champ's house where we were treated like stars. Totally unreal experience. Then I had to run back to my car. Not easy. Fun WTAC dinner followed in Wakefield.
I'm really happy with this race. Funny how I usually hate road races, especially this one being on a steamy summer night. I would have been the top master if it was held two weeks later. I'm now believing fresh legs is the only way to go for key races. T-pace is legit. Thank you Daniels!