Yesterday, I did my last 20 mile run of 2011 CIM training, and finished my first 20 mile race. It was the Clarksburg Country Run 20 Miler, and it went very well!
I started out a few days before the race, thinking about what my goals should be. I have been struggling a bit with my training this season, and didn't do as well in the Urban Cow half as I had wanted. My speed training hasn't been as solid as it was last year, and my long runs have been a bit more leisurely than they have been in the past. I decided that I should go for a pace at the Clarksburg run that would get me in at CIM in around my time for Napa: 8:58 per mile, or 3:55 for a full marathon.
I started the race with 8:58 per mile or better in mind. If course, at the start it was difficult to go that slowly. I was being passed left and right by people who started at the same place in the start, then sped up after a half mile or so. But that was fine. I kept my pace between 8:35 to 8:45 for the most part, careful not to go too fast, but not making myself stay to 8:58 exactly.
The first ten miles or so were easy. I enjoyed the scenery, and I was very comfortable. It was easy to keep the pace under 9, despite the fact that I've been trying for that in my 20s in previous weeks, and haven't been able to. I guess a race will do that. It was really nice to have a pace that was really comfortable, and that allowed me to stay solid. I wasn't struggling, or taking it easy.
Around the half marathon mark, I had to check my watch more often to stay on pace. A tailwind made it a bit more difficult to stay on target, but I managed. Around 15, the fun started. I started passing the folks who went out fast and were gradually slowing down. Unlike most of my races, I passed a good number of people, and only got passed by two people in the last few miles.
Adding to my solid last few miles, I had the unique pleasure and confidence booster of passing the back of the pack half-marathoners who were still on the course. Most were run-walking or running at a pretty slow pace. It is always nice to zoom past people.
I didn't keep my goal pace in miles 17 and 18, when my pace crept just above 9 minutes. The headwind was strong, and I think I kept the same level of effort but didn't manage to keep my speed consistent. I sped up in the last mile, and finished very strong.
I was a little sad that I came in 4th in my age group (20-29) by only 40 seconds. I think it was one of the two women who passed me in the last two miles. It is a bit of a consolation that if the age brackets had been in five year increments, I would have been 2nd in 25-29 (to the person who beat me by 40 seconds).
Overall, it was a great race. I ran my fist really consistent race ever, keeping my goal pace throughout. I think 8:58 or faster is a good goal for CIM, and it would put me in around 3:55. I think I have a plan!
Here are my Garmin results: