Temp 43 Warmed to 56. Wind 4-7 mph.
Race sold all 700 spots. FM, HM, and 5K shotgun start. Some bailed due to expected rain, and RD allowed a handful to start at 6:00 a.m. Still probably north of 600 on starting line. 368 in HM. I manage a spot in the front.
Overcast, but get lucky with the rain. Should stay dry as rain will not move in until 9:00. Not a significant increase in wind-speeds; however, temps will warm quick with front.
Move out and prepare for downhill with caution. Drove it yesterday and not as bad as advertised. About 6/10s of a mile with first mile split at the bottom. Yes, the elevation drops over 200 feet, but there was only on small stretch that could be considered "steep". Best case is to take it at 6:20-6:30. Thinking I can live with 6:15, but nothing faster.
Manage it with near perfection and go through mile split at 6:21. Relax, get back under control, and switch into flat-lander stride. Second mile split 6:48. Slow, but no panic. Long race and no damage overall. Grab water at two miles with zero issues jogging and drinking.
There are five runners in front of me after 5Kers turn around. Know one is a FM guy, so no worse than 5th OA. Focus on settling into HM effort/pace, and do no look at my watch until four mile alert. Mile 3 = 6:43. Mile 4 = 6:44. Wow, comfortable but not quick at all? Water at four mile as I pass one runner. Look up and see FM guy easing ahead, but none of the other three are getting away and in fact they are coming back to me. Recognize immediately that getting pace down to goal at this point will be suicide. Thinking now, I will hang out and see if I can win this whole thing. Watching one of the other guys and he is moving like he's running a FM. I may be 3rd OA.
Mile 5 = 6:42. Closing fast. Catch next guy late in mile six. Next guy steps off at six mile water stop. I go though thinking that since everything went so well at my first two stops that I will be safe and hit this one on the way back and then one more to finish. Mile 6 = 6:43. Around the turnaround and see the bibs of top two. Both in FM. I am winning this thing. Mile 7 = 6:42. Remember last HM and was running about this pace after eight miles. Then, just like 100s of other times, everything clicked in. In that race my pace dropped to 6:33 before going all the way down to 6:19 to finish. When this happens today, they will never catch me. Feeling very confident.
Mile 8 = 6:48. Feel mild cramping sensation in left calf. Relax and it will go away, it always does. Feel a stitch coming on as I approach water stop. Not thirsty, well hydrated, would like water just for the refreshment, but don't want to risk full-fledge stitch. Will wait until next stop.
Its mile nine, time for race day magic to click in. Instead, goes in opposite direction. Right quad / hip socket locking up causing trouble swinging my right leg. Compensation causes issues with left quad. Start slamming my right foot into the ground. Try to slow and get back under control. Hear foot steps as eventual OA winner passes me. Mile 9 = 6:54. Situation getting worse physically. Remind myself that I am second OA. Relax and do not blow it. Mile 10 = 7:03. Mile 11 = 7:04. Another runner passes me. Slows and offers encouragement before moving on. He in the FM? Maybe I am still 2nd? Both legs and hips are now numb, calf cramping still an issue, have an all-out stabbing stitch now, but telling myself do not quit.
Mile 12 = 7:12. Two younger guys jogging together (look like college runners) go by. Again offer encouragement. Surely they are in the FM? Maybe still 2nd?. One more goes by. Really young. Maybe high school? Friend waiting on side of road and jumps in with him. "College" guys turn around and talk to him like they know him. Teammate? Maybe he's in the FM? Never so temped to just stop. Legs feel like lead being drug along with my core. Stitch is gone. No idea my time or pace. Hoping against hope that I am second and keep moving my legs.
Mile 13 = 7:14. No one passes me. Finish is off road in cul de sac. There are two easements. Line of trees blocking my view of first one. Three young (HS?) girls standing in straight line facing me and blocking road past first easement. They are clapping yelling spectator clichés. I see the clock and see 1:2X:XX, but cannot make out the rest. Focusing on clock, I turn right into first easement since they are blocking the road. Immediately look down and pavement ends after two strides. Stop, turn around and look back at girls. They are looking back on the course for next runner. "Is this the right one?!!" "No, its the next one. We're sorry..." Sarcastically yell "Thanks for the help" and I hop back on the road and pass them.
Into the cul de sac. Come to a "T" and clock is on the left. There are two lanes marked with ground-cones. Tape on the ground marks FM and HM / 5K. I need to go to right shoot. Look back at clock as I cut my tangent casually crossing the FM lane at a not-so-sharp angel. Hear a woman behind me yell, "Half-Marathon is the other way!!" What? I stop again. Turn around and go back to go back towards her. There is no shoot or clock. "Where??!!" "No, the HM is on the right side, the FM on the left." NO SHIT!! Turn around again and head back to finish line. Very loud and clearly audible F-Bomb dropped in front of large group of people.
Look around and see all the guys that passed me after the OA winner in the corral. Crap. Luckily only two were actually in the race. Chip Time = 1:30:22. 4th OA. 1st 50-54 AG.
What a total disaster. I am clueless as to what happen. Eight miles at a slow 6:45 pace and then crashed and burned. Hell, I can run 6:45 all day long and barely break a sweat? OA winner ran 1:27:37. 2nd Place was 1:28:59. 3rd Place 1:29:19. What a golden opportunity laying there on a platter for the taking. Six months of training, five hours of travel, flat course, fair conditions, and shit the bed.
Overall soreness from the waist down. Muscles around knees in front and back in bad shape today. Upper right quad and hip flexor sore to the bone. Right leg does not always work when I first stand up. Mechanics screwed up for so long yesterday, there is no telling the damage done. Probably an all-time low point.