It was a cool 60 degrees on the morning of the Water to Wine Half Marathon in Santa Rosa. I warmed up and took a spot at the front. I saw a male competitor lock his gaze on me as I lined up at the front. He moved his way over and stood next to me. I found this to be unusually interesting, being marked even before the race started. The goal was to break 01:24:00. The first two miles I went out hard to create a gap from the pack, then settled into a sub 6:25 pace. Moments later the male competitor who targeted me before the race passed me. A few miles later I caught up to him holding the pace I was at. When he saw me, he surged ahead. With over 10 miles left, I thought it unwise to give chase, so I stayed with my pace, holding 15th place.
Around mile 5 there was a turn off but no course markers to direct runners. I ran about a quarter mile straight until runners coming down the opposite side of the road told me I needed to make the right turn and loop around as they did. Coming to the turn, I felt certain I lost a few placings and also had time to make up. There was nothing to do but shake off the mishap and run on.
I picked off runners as I made it through the halfway point. Around mile 8 I spotted, in the near distance, the male competitor who targeted me before the race. I felt a surge of excitement and locked in on my next target. At this point my legs were feeling the burn, so there would be no hard push to catch him. There was a handful of miles left, giving me the opportunity to gradually close in on him. As I passed mile 11, I picked off one more runner before finding myself right behind him. I took a moment to gather myself, preparing to make my attack and counter his surge. As I passed him on my left, I gave a solid look right at him, enough to catch the look of shock and disbelief in his face, and then took off. I listened closely for any foot falls behind me. As I hit mile 12, I gave a look around and saw that he was in the near distance giving a hard push to catch me. I countered with a hard push that would hold, beating him by 36 seconds.
I wasn't able to break 01:24:00 but I was able to take 14th overall and 4th in my age group. Life isn't about the perfect hand, but playing the one you've got as best as you can.
Be well and run on!