This was a very fun and different race for me. It was great to be able to do a race with Amy and Jenny while here in Belgium. The rain and been off and on during the day so we had our fingers crossed that it would be off for the race. Fortunately our luck would hold out.
We arrived in Rijkevorsel about 4:30 pm for the 6:00 race. We picked up our race numbers over by the starting line. The race bibs had chips embedded in them which was great since I don't do well tying the chips onto my shoe! The marathoners took off right about at 5:00 then the three of us did a half mile warm up and then I did a couple of strides up to race pace.
We were lined up at the starting area but I did not try and squeeze my way up to the front. The gun went off and we all took off down the main street. I did a little bit of weaving to get to an opening where I could get to my pace. For today, I wanted to finally run a race longer than 5k at faster than a 7:00 pace. So, the plan was to try and hit just under that and not be too greedy. First mile clicked off at 6:52 - I had to convince myself that I could keep this up. On the one hand, I had done this pace in a training run before but it had been a while. Just last Saturday I was struggling to keep up with Eric at a 7:0x pace for 4 miles, now I needed to do almost another six at a faster pace.
I kept moving and concentrated on either keeping up with the person in front of me, passing the person in front, or trying not to get passed by the person behind me. The course map had shown three loops - one 5k loop, followed by two 3k loops (the same one repeated twice) through the town. Lots of people were out watching the race and I was enjoying seeing the houses, shops, and other sights along the way.
At the end of the first 5k of the race the course split with the finish chute to the right for the 5k racers and to the left to continue for the rest of the 11k. It's always a little tempting to run the shorter race but fortunately I was here to do 11k so I headed towards the left. At about 6k I came up behind Amy, said hi and to keep going you are doing great. Shortly after that was a water station so I ripped open my PowerBar mocha gel and grabbed the water to wash it down. My mouth was really dry and it was hard to drink at this pace so I only took half the gel and shoved the packet back into my pocket (I would regret this later).
My stomach was a little unsettled. Lunch was around noon and I had eaten a little too much and this was a later time for me to be racing than I was used to.
Before I knew it the end of the second loop was coming up. It was great to start the third loop since now I knew exactly what to expect and just 2K left to run. I had been hitting my splits and I knew that I could now make the sub 7:00 pace even if I slowed down a lot which I was determined not to do. My breathing was good but my legs starting to feel a little bit rubbery. This was odd for me since I cant ever remember having this feeling. 6th mile was a little bit slower than the 4 previous ones but the same as the first mile. With less than 1 mile to go I felt a little bit speedier and picked up the pace slightly. Then the finish chute was up ahead - always a welcome sight; I had made it!!
Here are my garmin splits:
Official time was 46:47 to give me a 6:50 pace (garmin gave me 6:47). I am happy with 6:50 since this beat my goal and is also what I need to keep up for 26.2 to get a sub 3:00 marathon :) - some day
I'm pretty sure that it was just my garmin that was off slightly (11K = 6.83 miles) since Jenny's garmin measured 6.83 exactly.
I saw Amy come by for her last lap so I ran along with her briefly to cheer her on then went back to wait for Jenny. I saw Jenny coming towards the finish with a time that would be under an hour - not too long ago that would have been a good 10K time for her so this was great to see that time now for an 11K.
Jenny and I then lined up and waited for Amy who soon showed up - we cheered her on and saw her cross the finish for a huge THREE MINUTE PR after only 2 months since her last 11K. Jenny and I had joked that she and I had guaranteed PRs for the race today since this was our first 11K race. Amy didn't have that luxury since she had done these before and had a time to beat.
It was very festive in the streets after the race with lots of food and drink. Amy told one of the volunteers that Jenny and I had come from Florida to run here today. She introduced us to the race director who chatted with us for a bit who took down our names and told us to stick around. We watched the awards and at the end they announced our names and told us to come up to the stage. The race director shook our hands and presented us with a very nice boxed bottle of Trappist Ale from a nearby brewery and we also shook hands with the city government leaders. What an exciting time!
We were all ecstatic about the race and how fun it was as we headed back to the car.