the westport 10 miler is one of my favorite road races. i've run it numerous times over the years. last year was the scariest (a word rarely if ever associated with my race reports) because i hardly finished the race. it was the last, and worst, of a series of increasingly poor performances that summer. finally, a trip to the doctor confirmed that i had anemia. thankfully, after a couple of months of spent rebuilding my iron levels, i was no worse for the wear (and fright).
so it was with a mild sense of trepidation that i lined up yesterday (returning to the scene of the crime, so to speak). i'm not the least bit superstitious, but i couldn't help remembering how i ran out of breath, more than once last year - and didn't want to repeat that unpleasant experience. no anemia this time around, so i targeted a 1:15 finish (a very doable 7:30 pace). only two serious hills on the course to worry about, albeit the last one was the final mile.
i went out conservatively and picked up the pace as the race progressed. in the first mile is all downhill, so my 7:12 wasn't fast under the circumstances. i missed the second mile marker, but my 3 mile split, 21:50, was just over a 7:18 pace. i picked up the pace in mile 4 with a 7:07, and mile 5, with a 7:18, gave me a split of 36:15. the first half split of 7:15 would slow because the two hills, miles 6 and 10, were in the second half.
as expected mile 6 brought the first significant hill. emmy, who had opted to ride the course 2x instead of run it, was on top waiting to take pictures of us (rob, roy, don, kate, dorrie, and me... to mention a few). i didn't mind the photo, but couldn't smile (only grimace) for it! that was my slowest mile of the race - 7:52. over the next two miles i passed a few runners and reached 8 miles in 59:06.
for that mile (8) and the next, i ran with just one other person, who i just couldn't pass. finally, in a burst of energy i cranked out a 7:02 mile and passed him at the 9 mile marker. i had to laugh at myself because at that point we turned right and had the uphill climb back to staples for the final mile. i was sure he'd catch me again. amazingly, i kept it together for the last mile, even catching one more runner at the high school entrance - but he out sprinted me to the finish. my 1:13:54 was almost 10 minutes faster than my 2008 finish!
i was very pleased with my performance. i was even happier to learn that rob had cranked out a pr on the course with his 1:11+ finish! and dave won the race! emmy, as it turned out, biked the course 2.5 times, for 25 miles. the funniest moment of the morning was pre-race, however. a "red carpet" was laid out for don - rd of the norwalk summer series - who made his first (and since this was the last race of the summer) only appearance at westport.
there were so many familar faces at the 10 miler. at the risk of leaving someone out: kate, rob, roy, emmy, dorrie, jim, gail, marty, sherry, dawn, al, and don... most of whom will head over to new haven for the 20k on monday (which i'm going to skip) or regroup for the norwalk half marathon next weekend (count me in). it was a great day to race!
here are some race photos.