It didn't quite seem like Decker. Maybe it was the fact that it wasn't cold enough to flash freeze small chickens, or maybe it was because the wind wasn't howling around the lake like a bad spaghetti western. Too bad - I was ready for the cold and I was ready for the wind. What I got instead was 85F and 90% humidity. The only thing that felt familiar were the hills - and lots of them.
Decker is one of my favourite races - I enjoyed the run last year and finished with a breakout time of 1:47:50. This year I knew I was a lot faster and was hoping to improve on that time with a goal to finish under 1:40. If I ran well I might even knock 10 minutes off.
Met up with a few friends before the race. It was particularly good to see Henry and Celeste, as we'd kinda lost touch for the last few years. They both look great and were hoping for a good race. They were also both surprised that I'm not the fat little guy they remembered!!!
My Garmin was away having surgery after going into cardiac arrest on a dark, dirty, rainy 20k day at Brushy Creek the week before, so I figured I'd pick up splits from my stopwatch and the mile markers. My race plan was to go out conservatively and save something to hit the big hills on the second half. Great plan - here's what really happened.
The race started and off I went enjoying the twisty downward portion as we made our way out of the convention center. Evidently I enjoyed myself too much because I passed the 1 mile marker in 6:35. Ok fly boy, you may want to slow down a bit.
I soon settled down, and felt pretty comfortable. Although I never got into a real rhythm, I set myself for the hills to come. This is the one race where you can see the mental effect that said hills have on the runners. You crest one and immediately see the next one ahead of you - over and over. It's amazing how many people visibly sag when they see that. At the same time, seeing that reaction in your fellow runners can give you a mental lift. I'm generally really good at running hills - I enjoy the challenge - so maybe that's why I like this race so much. I found that there were runners who were much faster than me on the flats, but that I would blast past them and eventually drop them on the uphills.
The race went by pretty uneventfully, but I knew I was running pretty well and at a much faster pace than last year. Felt really strong as we turned back into the convention center, and seeing George and Anna cheering me on a few hundred yards from the finish (those rabbits had already finished) shifted me up an extra gear and I finished in 1:36:21 (7:46 pace). Pretty pleased with that, and my first thought was that I should aim to break 1:30 next year.
Picked up some water, some Accelerade and pigged out on the cookies (I ate about 6 of them) before walking back along the last few hundred yards to encourage some friends who were still running. Cheered on Tony, Dave, Celeste, Jim and a few others, and talked to James for a while. Bumped into Ray, who I'd run with a few times last year but I don't think he had a good race because he wouldn't tell me his time!!! I was actually pretty surprised to see how many people had suffered out there. I guess I don't feel the humidity as much as some folks. Odd given the climate I come from, but there you go.
Headed home, picked up Nancy and Gavin and carried on to Brushy Creek to do Nancy's long run. We did 8 miles and I enjoyed the slower pace and chatting with Gavin as I pushed the jogging stroller. Also got to experiment with gummy bears. Not bad, but I think I'm going to stick to sports beans for Sunmart next week.