I've run Beat the Bridge 3 times before. It was one of my first races way back in 2003. An 8k (just under five miles) at that time was not much longer than my long run at the time. I vaguely remember it seeming very long! Fast forward a few years and I've become a much different runner. I set a very big PR at this race at what I (still) consider a fast pace and shortly after this race in 2007, i set my lifetime half PR. I was in great shape and didn't even really know it.
Now? Hey I"m three weeks out from a marathon and have another event planned in a couple weeks. Free entry into a fun race? Sure! I do donate to the admirable cause this race supports and I do love how there are so many very large teams both corporate and private. I'd like to get in a hard workout and start working back to short distance speed so I'm ready for Ragnar.
This race? Well it can be a big ol' mess. Beat the Bridge. Twenty minutes after the LAST runner crosses the start line, a bridge two miles away opens stopping runners in the middle of their race. It's part of the fun and they have a band there plus they give away prizes. Not everyone is going to make it and many even plan for that. But for most, it makes them crazy!
So picture 5000 people all wanting to start first. Oy. I enjoy the course, i like the cause, i wanted to race and many friends (plus K) were also racing. OK. I'll do it even though i always curse the start.
K, RPD and I parked a good mile away and jogged in for a warm up and to meet up for my work's team photo. Off to baggage check and indoor bathrooms (WIN!) and i went off to continue warming up in plenty of time to line up. I knew it would be crowded. I wasn't sure what to aim for with this race either. I'd done a short easy track workout on Thursday and realized the next day that I hadn't run those sorts of paces in quite a while. My quads thought evil thoughts at me randomly throughout the day.
I lined up just ahead of the 7-8 minute pace thinking that would be good. I didn't mind getting pulled out a bit fast. I'd go out a bit faster than i expected and it would be fine if i died a bit the last mile (or two, gulp). Even with such a large field, this event starteed right on time. And i vaguely moved toward the start line with a bazillion other people. D'oh!
I dodged and weaved and cursed. By mile 1, i was on pace (7:30) but now think i should've just cooled my jets a bit. How fast did i run that second half mile? Probably better not to know. The second mile is flat and I was feeling pretty good (7:35). I knew mile 3 would be slower because i'd crossed THAT bridge and you climb plus make some turns (7:55). Hmm. Not that slow! Mile 4 is gradually downhill. I worked to make sure to run the tangents and was happy to see 7:36. I'd hoped to keep up the pressure that last mile but my quads just started laughing at me. They would have none of that!
Train for distance? Haha! We'll show you what that does to speed.
37:47 according to race results for 7:37 pace. I think the course was maybe just a touch short (construction of the UW stadium necessitated some changes) so my garmin read 7:41 pace. This is 30 seconds off of my 8k all time PR. Not bad at all!
I got what I wanted. It was a fun run, I saw lots of friends, had a solid, hard race effort and ran pretty well for a pretty good time. And i ran home so totaled just over 14 miles for the day.
I saw a friend at work the next day. He placed first in his age group at this race. he is one speedy dude. And what does he say? oh it was a terrible race. he'd raced a 5k the day before and felt horrible. He was so slow on this 8k (where he was first in his AG) and no one fast showed up anyway. it was so crowded. complain, complain, complain.
I just rolled my eyes at him and congratulated on the Age Group win anyway. Such a runner. There is always a reason why the race wasn't quite what you wanted. A good lesson for me to remember. Yes, i learned something new in a race just like always but I got from this race exactly what I wanted and had a lot of fun besides that.