24th overall, 19th male, 1st AG (50-54), 1:33:39.9 (chip)
(garmin stats: 13.34 mi, 1:33:40, 7:01 avg (about the same garmin distance as las time)
My first race of the new year and in my new age group as well as the sometimes used catagory of "grand master" at the BDR Half Marathon in Safety Harbor. I had a lot of uncertainty going into this race but wanted to see what I could do when challenged. This past week was the first full week of this year that I felt fully ready to go full speed ahead with all systems back to normal. The 4 mile tempo run (which went well but felt like I had nothing left to give) let me know I had a chance at running better than I thought I could.
Warmed up a little before the race and got into the corral with about 10 minutes to spare, working my way up to near the front but not quite toeing the line. First mile felt pretty good and not that hard, probably a little fast but it felt so much better than the last mile of Thursday's tempo run and was a couple seconds faster. My baby steps goal was to complete at least 5 miles under a 7:00 pace and then after that try to at least make sure no miles were over 7:20. With mile 1 out of the way, mile 2 came and went at 6:52 as we headed into Phillipe park. Approaching the turnaround I saw Mike MacDonald leading out in front and then several runners later Jacki Wachtel as lead female. Mile 3 was a nice 6:44 (the rolling hills inside the park were actually kind of nice - slow down a little on the uphill but get it all back and maybe a little extra on the downhill).
Heading out of the park and finishing mile 4 at 6:53 pace was a great feeling and I still felt like I had plenty left. Kept it up for miles 5, 6, and 7. At that point I was thinking maybe I coould do a repeat of the Brass Tap Half where I kept the miles under 7:00 through mile 9. But, not this time, shortly into mile 8 I noticed one of my shoelaces was completely undone, so I stopped to tie it, there was just too much left of the race to try and finish it untied. I had nearly caught up to Bill Cottrell but now he was gone and I wouldn't see him again until after the race. A few people passed me and as I was getting my pace back up I caught up to the woman who had just passed me and I stuck with her for a good part of the remainder until I eventually lost her also.
The shoelace mile was 7:26 (almost under my 7:20 floor). And then I felt like I was "back in the race" with mile 9 at 6:54. 11 was another slowdown at 7:29 with some hills that were wearing on me, but I pulled some pace back together to get 6:59 for mile 12 and then kind of let things go for mile 13 with a 7:37 which is too bad since mile 13 is usually one of my best miles. However, I was alone at that point with the person ahead of me way, way ahead of me (well maybe not that far ahead, she was just under a minute faster, so if I had gotten a good sub 7:00 mile I might have been within catching distance of her) and the guy I had been leap frogging (I was running behind him at one point going up a hill and his wife and little son were waiting for him and his son ran out to give him a hug, then a pulled farther ahead until I eventually caught up to him on a downhill and then we passed each other a few more times) had fallen back far enough he wasn't going to catch me. However, with a little bit faster mile 13 I could have beaten my time from this race two years ago.
They had great post race food and drink and a good DJ for a fun post race party. I saw two coworkers, a bunch of Suncoast Striders and chatted a bit with Mike M. for a bit congratulating him on his 1st place win (speedy 1:12:33 ).