It just might be true what they say ... the third times a charm! Being the Pre freak that I am, this is the one race I willingly always run and will continue running, no matter what! And this year was freaking AWESOME!
Friday night I drove to the coast, got my hotel room and had my traditional pre-Pre dinner of French toast and hash browns at the Kozy Kitchen. Delicious! I got a little concerned when I was freezing. I ended up heading to the store to buy a hoodie for the next morning. I had no desire to freeze before we even began running. I also learned from last year and bought my bagel, banana and water the night before instead of going after picking up my packet! Early to bed, I slept not that great, but still woke up feeling energized and ready.
Packet pick up is always nice at the Pre... a nice small town feel and very friendly volunteers helping out. The shirts this year were really cool, the first that actually felt like a tech shirt. I didn't buy anything extra... because I already own everything. I did forget ear buds, so we made a quick trip to the store for those and then parked at the finish line eating our breakfast. It was a nice walk through town to get to the start, and of course I walked right by Pre's mom's house. Of course. We were very happy to have our new jackets, too. It was rather chilly! At the start line I looked up and saw we were outside of the museum that was open and free on that day. I rushed in and ran upstairs to the room dedicated to Steve Prefontaine. Talk about great pre-race motivation!! Leaving the building we decided to go drop off our jackets at the bag drop and take a spot close to the start line. This race isn't chip timed, so trust me I am not starting at the back!!
Also motivational ... standing at the start line having your typical pre-race talk with Pre, while looking at his mom and sister. I swear I wasn't stalking, it was just sort of coincidental. The gun goes off and we are off. ... Off at 8 minute mile pace. I told Man Friend we would not be maintaining that and that he had to follow my lead and we'd back off a little and watch everybody else burn out on that first of many hills. And that's just what we did!! Steady as she goes, we just kept moving forward. "I've now hit a new longest distance of sole running on this course!" And we kept going! That first hill, which we did think was the steepest of them all, was dominated. No walking at all.
On the downhills I let loose and we made up for any lost time with that hill. I walked through the first two water stops and then realized I didn't care about the water and skipped the remaining stops. Any walk breaks I took were very short. Just one in the first half during another long hill, and then 2 short walks on Agony Hill. They are NOT kidding when they call it Agony Hill. A total blast to run down, but a total bitch to run up!
At each mile marker a volunteer would be shouting out our time. I was always stunned, and pleasantly surprised ... which then made me pick up my pace! On the final, long downhill (so that first hill we ran up), Man Friend noticed that he had to change his stride to keep up with me. I knew we had one mile to go and I wasn't leaving anything on that course. I knew I had a course PR in me, but did I have an overall 10K PR? I was ready to fight for it!!
We hit Pre's neighborhood and had that last nasty, short hill. I did walk a few paces. A girl I had flown by was now passing me. I sort of ignored it, but not really. At the top I resumed running and was completely focused. I looked into Pre's house and saw his sister. That pretty much gave me the final boost I needed. I had tunnel vision and was visualizing my new PR that was just around the corner. Coming up the rise onto the track I could hear everybody cheering. Once on the track MF asked if I wanted to open it up and go. "No," I said, "not just yet. Otherwise I'll puke." I stayed steady behind that girl that I had passed, then got passed by. At the last turn it happened. We were on HIS track and I could feel him with me. I was going to use that finishing kick I always practice during my training runs. Around her left side I went, there was no way she could keep up. Then I passed the next girl. With a final straight stretch to go I let loose and was down at the 6 minute mile pace I usually finish at.
And it was AWESOME!!! Last year I cried in disappointment with my performance. This year my arms were up and I was celebrating! Not only did I finally get a new faster time on that course - by ELEVEN minutes!!! - but I had just set a new overall 10K PR ... on the hardest course I have ever run in my entire life.
This really was the most magical day of racing for me. The weather ended up absolutely perfect. I kept my head in the game. I ran a smart race. I made some smart choices. I ran the tangents perfectly according to my Garmin. I had a fabulous, fun time. I mean it was soooo hard, but it was so very fun!! Hill training this summer certainly paid off!! Who knows what I'll do next year! A big thing here is "Pre lives". I certainly feel he was alive that day, and I'm pretty sure he was right there pushing me along and helping to my awesome victory!