Todd, Me, Terry (Pre-race)
Started off from downtown at 7:50am with a good number of runners in the full and half (the 5k Jingle Jog started later). Tried settling into my pace pretty early and resisted the urge to stay with the mass of people that seemed to be rushing ahead. Had to keep remembering most were just running the half. Saw fellow GTC member Julie as she went by. Many miles later - saw Jim too as he passed. Hit my steady pace early, but still was 10 seconds/mile faster than I had anticipated. Stayed about 8:25 for the first 10 miles or so, and running 4 or so miles in there with Todd helped that even if it was on the edge of my comfort level. (Having hit my lap button on the 10k mat, once we got to the 7 mile marker - I thought for a second we had run a 6:44 mile. My math skills certainly decline during a race!) It really was nice running with him as we used to do the same races, not often getting to run with him though. I eventually had him go on ahead and could see him for many miles within 2 minutes of me. Leaving downtown - we ran thru some nice neighborhoods, including one section with a narrow divided road, completely tree-lined. Was very peaceful running there. Water stops every 2 miles, a few bands (alot less than I was expecting - but some good music when it was there). Some large areas of cheering people - gave some kids high-fives and thanked as many volunteers as I could. Saw Kathrin who was cheering us all on, especially her boyfriend Terry in his 1st marathon - he had bad cramping at 15 after running pretty well, and had to walk the remaining of the course, but he did finish, so hats off to him!
I knew I was ahead of my goal at the half (1:51), but felt good. My right ankle was sore, not badly, but overall felt fine. Still don't know where that ankle thing came from. Settled into 8:45's or so from mile 12-18, when I started feeling it. I had gotten hungry about mile 16, so started in on my power bar. I'd take a bite, pack it away and ended up finishing it around mile 25 (it had gotten pretty difficult to wash it down my mouth was so dry). I knew I had not hit the 9min/mile pace in Spokane until 16, but I wanted to put it off as long as I could here. After an 8:59 on mile 19, I broke into the 9's with a slight side-stitch. 9:19, 9:35 and 9:50 got me thru 22. I would walk every mile at this point, not for long, maybe just for 20-30 seconds or so to mentally rebuild and trudge forward. Somehow, I felt invigorated the next 2 miles - surprisingly good, running 9:34 and 9:37, before hitting 10:18's each of the last 2 miles. I knew I would PR and not feel horrible, so I didn't push myself as hard as I could have. Made it the last 0.2 miles and clocked in at 3:53:40! Another 8 minutes off my Windermere time.
The last 3-4 miles I watched Todd stay about 1-2 minutes ahead of me, knowing I would not catch him. Was good to see him up there though and motivate me to keep moving. GTC Jim ended up a few steps ahead of me at the finish - I hadn't been sure if that was him the last mile or not until we crossed. One guy ran with an "I'm getting married today" shirt on. He got Lots of cheers - and a story in the Charlotte Observer paper Sunday (but no other article on the race itself, go figure).
As for the course/hills - they were there. Not so terrible, more prevalent as I'd heard in the first half, but every hill the last 6 miles was demoralizing. The NoDa section had a "wall" setup for us to all run through - that was a nice touch, although 50 yards later when the crowd disappeared, it was back to suffering. Ran past two old haunts of mine/Todd's from our college(post-college) days - Amos' and Tremont Music Hall. Lots of good times and good bands there.
After the finish - did not have the emotion like Windermere, got my finisher medal (will have to change it one day as the skyline pictured now has 2 fewer since 2 more have gone up) and another shirt (white - Guess a mistake was made somewhere! Works for me - the shirts are nice) and the all important space blanket. I had gotten a little chill the last 2 miles, and took awhile to warm up (after going inside and changing out of my sweaty shirts and into 3 layers and the blanket). Hung out with Todd, finished 1 min ahead (and Rachel his wife) until they headed back to their hotel and I walked back to find Terry. (Tom finished in 3:08 and had already gone - even fast runners get cold!). Saw them with 0.25 miles to go and walked with them to get the story. I knew he'd finish somehow, no matter how bad he felt, and he felt Bad for awhile.
Made it home 4:15pm, had a x-mas party at a friends house (exhaustion set in around 7) and got home and crashed around 9:30! Think I've been talked in to running Myrtle Beach in Feb...stay tuned!