Pretty much crap since the middle the March. I made the decision to go at the last minute and did not even pre-register. There has been a massive shift in my body chemistry and I am facing symptoms of slow oxidation. I won't know the cause for another 3 weeks. I was somewhat less than fresh after a hard tempo only 36 hours prior to the gun. Based on my training, I expected to be 25-30 seconds per mile off my PR pace, which would put me in mid 42s, which is still semi-respectable. I really didn't care if I was over 43 because of the prior tempo but if I was much slower than that, I would not have been able to enjoy the experience.
Florida is state #6 out of 10 in the 10K department and it was a smooth 4 hour drive to Pensacola. I completely winged it and did not even book a hotel. I knew the roads well because I have spent many happy hours on the Florida and Alabama Gulf Coast. The route was I-65 south down to the Florida border then US-29 into Pensacola. I got into town just after 3 PM and registered but they ran out of shirts. No big deal. I've got too many of them already. Next, I looked for hotels on my Garmin and scored one just about a half mile from the line. Cool. I can use that to warm up and will not have to get in my car the next morning. I got a decent steak dinner just down the road and headed back to my room early. Strangely, I was tired early and got a good night's sleep before waking just before the alarm.
Weather and course:
In the first week of May in Florida, the concern is usually the heat. Not so this year. I awoke to 48 degrees with cloudy skies and a 20 mph wind. Conditions would improve once the race started. The skies cleared and wind died down, making for pretty favorable conditions. The long run was rained out in Birmingham so this was a good call weather wise.
The course began at Pensacola State College and finished in the entertainment district. It was point to point with a shuttle that took us from the finish to the start. It was net downhill but not so much that it is much of an advantage. It's Florida so as you can guess, the elevation change was not significant. Mile 2 was the hardest. It began with a pretty significant downhill that was followed by a long climb, which merely leveled off. Even with the same elevation change, an uphill followed by a downhill is much easier. There was another mild hill near the end of Mile 5 but this one was followed by a nice downhill that began with about a mile to go. The remainder of the course, including to homestretch, was level or a very gentle incline/decline. It could be a PR course but I was not in shape to run anywhere near my best.
Congested start. I got behind a couple of slower runners in the first 100 meters, which cost me about 5 seconds. There was no chip time, which probably cost me another 3-4 seconds but it really would not matter at the end. I got to .25 in 1:40 and kept up the increased tempo going slightly downhill through the end of Mile 1, which passed comfortably in 6:28. A little faster than I planned but not so much that it will kill me at the end. Going down the hill early in Mile 2, I hit what I believed to be the end of the 1st quarter just under 10:00. Any thoughts of an official road PR (40:55) were put to rest quickly once I hit the big uphill. Early in Mile 3, it was merely a gentle incline on a road with thick Spanish moss. Most of Mile 3-4 were on a main road and largely residential but we turned to a business section in Mile 5. I made the decision to conserve energy on the hill at the end of Mile 5, which would be my only Mile over 7:00. I ran the next downhill very well but once the course leveled off, I was unable to keep up with my pack. There was only 1 turn in the last half mile and with the finish line in view, it looked like I could break 42:30 and made it comfortably.
6:28 (6:28) little fast
6:37 (13:05) uphill hurt
6:49 (19:54) can't recover from hill.
Passed 5K in 20:54 but the official marker may have been a bit long (3.15)
6:59 (26:53) strug-a-ling
7:05 (33:58) will avoid a PW and break 43.
6:52 (40:50) Gonna break 42:30
1:30 (42:20) - last .23. Decent kick on a long straightaway.
Almost exactly what I expected. I'm in 42 shape right now, maybe a hair under if fully fresh. Steady gradual improvement is the goal and I've felt pretty stable this week. I've needed Thyroid caps before but a single dose made a big difference. That's not happening now. This week, 1 extra pill did not make much of a difference. Another medical post is on the way. As for the race experience, it was a good quality event and can be a PR course with the right ingredients. I may be back next year if I am in top shape and don't have the official sub-40 on the road. Tennessee and Kentucky would be #7 and 8 and both are easy trips. I'll probably do one of these this Fall. There is a downhill race in Pittsburgh that I'd really like to do but I want to be in tip top shape for that even though it is an asterisk course. I'll bet I can find a decent race in ARK or NC that is drivable but I'd still lean toward a mega race in Richmond, VA for #10.
Made a side trip to the Flora-Bama lounge for a mediocre burger overlooking the Gulf. I wanted to take a dip but it was too cold outside (temp in the 60s). The drive back to B'ham also went without a hitch.