If I’m honest (and why wouldn’t I be) this race was one big disappointment from the start.  Last year my mother and grandfather joined me – walking their way to age group awards for each of them.  My mom’s recent knee surgery benched her from participating.  The week before the race my Papaw caught some sort of head cold/flu, so I was running this one solo.

Okay so maybe not solo.  I’ve got no problems admitting I’m a spoiled brat.  I want things exactly how I want them.  So despite the fact 2 of my friends/coworkers were running this race, I still felt bummed about my family not getting to join us.  
Yes, I’m on my tip toes in that picture.  Yes, they are that much taller than me.  What of it?  
Lisa and Kristi had been trash talking each other in the weeks leading up to the race.  Kristi really wanted to medal (its a small race and one of the more likely places for it to happen for those of us who aren’t super speedy) and Lisa stood in her way.  Fast forwarding – they stayed neck and neck the whole race and Kristi pulled out a 6 second victory – good for 2nd in their age group.  Lisa took home 3rd.
As for my race, I was cautiously optimistic about how I would do.  I’ve gotten faster and faster this summer, and I new this small race was one of (if not my only) chance to ever win 1st in my age group.  Having said that, I’ve been focusing on half marathon training and have no clue what I’m capable of for shorter races.  The plan was balls to the wall – pushing as fast as I could for the entire 3.2 miles (yeah, that’s 3.2, not 5K).
I let the race day excitement pull me out faster than I had intended.  Half a mile out I was keeping a strong pace and staying just behind a girl in front of me.  At this point I should have let her go, but instead I busted it to keep up.  
Mile 1: 8:18
That’s just a few seconds of my 1 mile race time from Labor Day this year.  Way too fast to sustain over the long haul.  At the turn, I felt the slight incline really start to kick in and slow my pace.  Eventually I caught up with the girl from earlier, eventually passing her.  Apparently she and I both went out too fast.
Mile 2: 8:58
I was definitely disappointed with this time and tried to pick it up.  I just didn’t have much gas left in the tank. At the turn around, I had noticed about 6 women (total) in front of me.  I knew one girl wasn’t in my age group (she was a teen) but wasn’t sure about the rest of them.  
At this point I didn’t know if I still had a shot to meet my goal or not.  The last part of mile 3 was downhill and I tried my best to pick up the pace, but I just couldn’t catch the ladies right in front of me.
Mile 3: 8:53
The last 0.2 cuts off the road and hits a paved track behind the school.  I knew it was time to kick it up, although too early to break out into a sprint.  I gave it all I had, eventually getting to what felt like a sprint, but  never was able to catch the ladies.
Final 0.2 pace: (7:44)

Yes, that’s a fake smile.  My 27:20 time was good enough for a 2nd place age group win, but I was disappointed.  Even more so when I discovered the 1st place winning time was only 18 seconds  faster than my time.  Had I paced better I might have had a shot.

No need to comment “I’d love to be that fast!” Been there.  A year ago I ran this same race in 29:39, so this was a huge improvement over last year.  (But still enough to net a 2nd place award.)

Shoulda, woulda, coudla:  Train more specifically for this race.  Have a strategy for racing.  Not go out too fast.  Run my own race.

Bottom line?  Suck it up buttercup.  You’re getting faster.  Deal with it.  Be proud of how far you’ve come.  And never. ever. ever. Leave anything on the course.