The sky was so pretty on the way to Rutledge.
So, we get to Ritter Farm, sign me up, and I go about warming up.
The race started a few minutes after 8:00. The course started in front of the Farm House and wound down the highway towards Rutledge Middle School for the turn around. My first thoughts at the start of this race were, "oh no, I'm running 8:30 pace and it feels like I'm breathing too hard - UGH!!!" But after the first mile, my breathing settled down and felt right. My plan was to run miles 1-2 @ 8:31 pace, miles 3-9 @ 8:23 pace, miles 10-12 @ 8:16 pace, and run as fast as I could for the last mile. Because in theory, and on a relatively flat course, this is what I believe I'm currently capable of: 8:22 average pace. (Even though my shorter race times and McMillan's calculator say I could run 8:17 pace).
I was soon to find out the course was not even remotely flat (the elevation chart from Garmin -pbtn- shows an elevation differential of more than 700 ft. over the course). The first mile was fairly flat while the second mile was mostly down (I didn't remember this while I was trying to pick up the pace on mile 12...where did this uphill come from?). Mile 3 presented two short, steep uphills that were so steep I chose to walk up and work the downhill.
My main concern was keeping my breathing under control and following the pace guidelinesi had set up so I could run faster on the second half. Even if I ran a 1:49 or 1:50 today, if I did it with a negative split, I could have pride in the fact that I ran a smart race.
My first 2 miles were run at 8:23 average pace. I was on target pace, averaging 8:23's up until the turnaround point. Although I knew I had 6.5 more miles to go, at the turnaround I felt confident that I could pick up the pace to 8:16's. I started to turn it up a notch and started to pass many of the runners who had passed me in the opening miles.
Unfortunately, miles 8-12 were nothing if not a giant, solid wall of uphill. The elevation gain from mile 8 to 12 was nearly 300 feet. No way could I speed up to 8:16's here. Mile 8 was something like 8:49, and this was just the beginning of the hell which was mile 9, 10, 11, and 12. When I hit the 10 mile marker, I saw that I was at 1:25 and change. I knew then that 1:48 was off the table. I'd be lucky at this point to finish in under 2 hours. I had NOTHING left in the gas tank, and my legs and lungs hurt.
Many, many combinations of 'F' words later, I passed the clock at the finish line, and it said 1:55:38 (or something like that...results still aren't posted). Garmin time was 1:54:06. Believe it or not, they said I was second female when I came through.