I got to the starting line and tried to position myself as far behind the runners as possible, because the thought of getting run over by close to 10,000 people worried me a little. I wanted to have a good race, and I really didn't think that getting flattened a quarter mile BEFORE the starting line was really going to be productive.
But I couldn't really find a good spot, nor could I find the friend I'd hoped to start the race with, so I lined up with everyone else and counted down the last few seconds before the gun sounded and we were off. Very slowly. In fact, from my spot not in the back of the pack it took five minutes to reach the starting line. So I got a nice warm up, which set the tone for a very good race. The weather was perfect, the people around me were a ton of fun, and I had a great day.
I've never done a big road race anyplace except San Francisco, so I don't know what other cities have to offer, but any race here is a reason for a small celebration. Drummers out along the Panhandle? Yup, playing and singing and asking me if I was "the last one" because he couldn't see the crowd behind me from his seat in front of his RV.
Homeless guys egging us on? Saw one of them, yelling to us that we were going the wrong way, and needed to turn around, because the race was behind us.
People in crazy costumes were visible along the course - and they were running, not spectating. But spectators really got into the spirit, too, especially along the beach. When I hit mile 8 or so, I saw a sign on the return side of the course advertising a beer stop. And then I heard the (presumably unsanctioned) volunteers cheering us on and offering beer. The thought of a shot of beer at mile 12 helped push me through the headwind. But sadly, by the time I got there the beer was all gone. And the guys frying bacon along the course were also out when I walked by.
But that's my biggest complaint of the race. I felt really good. I'd planned to go out slowly, and really struggled to hold myself back. At one point, while pacing a bunch of Team in Training walkers, I realized I was moving way faster than I'd planned for the first third of the race. But I felt so good that I kept going, easing off a little only during miles 9-11, so that I made sure I had enough energy to finish strong. And having a few friends cheer me on a half mile from the finish gave me the push I needed to keep going up the final little hill.
I finished a few minutes faster than my goal, and about 8 minutes off where I'd like to finish by the end of next year. Bring on the speedwork. Next month. Right now, I need another snack and maybe a little nap.