The day was like any other. It didn't feel like a race day. Maybe it was because this is my sixth year in a row doing this race (with a couple of times before the current streak), so perhaps it has lost some of its excitement. When it came down to it, I just wasn't prepared.
When I woke up it was 58°. By the time I finished breakfast, it was 53°, and by the time I left two hours later, it was 51°. It was pouring rain as well so we drove, skipping the walk & warm-up. Once at the race start, I realized three things: 1) I forgot to wear my watch, 2) I didn't bring a Gu, and 3) I didn't wear gloves. The only thing I could fix was number 3, jumping into the Walgreens on the corner and finding a nice set of white gloves. It was difficult to choose amongst the awesome ones with basketballs and baseballs and soccer balls, but the white seemed to suit me best. Mona at the counter even cut them open without any prompting from me. Thanks Mona!
In the mean time, the rain stopped and I got in a few laps around the square that served as my warm-up. I got with my Wave D mates, and we were off in a flash. With no watch, I was running completely by feel. Just two days previous, I ran 3 miles right after a bike ride at an approximately 7 minute-mile pace. I was hoping to hold exactly that pace for the entire 8K, so I tried to repeat that feeling for the race.
At the first mile, someone announced we were at 6:45. And it started to rain. Up Observatory Hill steady and smooth and down again. Mile two and it's raining harder now. All along, I get the feeling that I've been in these conditions before. Rain was washing out of the adjacent parking lot in rivers. There was no escaping it. We were getting just as wet from below as above. Claps of thunder and flashes of lightning brought some fireworks and hoots from the crowd.
By the third mile, I feel sluggish. My head hung low with the rain still pelting down. I try to keep with the folks passing me, hanging on for as long as I can before they pull away. By now, each one of my shoes has untied itself, and I stopped each time to retie my laces, losing about 10 seconds each time. When my left shoe untied again, I left it alone.
By mile 4, I was feeling some pain, but I knew that I had less than 7 minutes left. I focused on keeping my head up, and using my arms. Up the last hill and push to the 50-yard line. The clock read 36:42 as I crossed, which was the run time from the first wave. I didn't take note of what my time differential at the beginning, so I didn't know how I did.
Apparently, we left 1:30 after the beginning, as I finished in a personal best 35:12, well within the goal of sub-36, but tantalizingly close to an unexpected sub-35. If it doesn't rain, or I don't stop to tie my shoes, and I'm there. So the weekly speed work is really helping. Sweet. Given the conditions, I'm quite pleased with the results, and I plan on continuing the weekly speed workouts.