Kary said

she was going to run 6:45min/mile pace.

I didn’t believe her for a minute, of course. But since I wanted to run about 6:35 I foolishly hoped that she might run at my pace.

Today we were starting a little after mile 19 and running to somewhat more after mile 23.5 and then turning around and coming back. This is a challenge because between miles 23 and 23.5 lies the HILL we all dread. In this half mile we climb ~200ft, from sea-level to the top of the Mesa. That doesn’t sound bad. It’s a 3%+ grade. But if you try to run up it fast it turns out to be really hard.

Rusty exhorted us to drink at the turnaround, then started all the slower groups each in order, and then he went off and tried to talk Kent into running with Drea. We seemed forgotten. After a bit Kary said “Go!” and we went. Kary’s watch seemed to be working today, after a bit she turned to me and said her watch showed a 7min pace, and asked if that’s what mine showed. Mine said 7:04. Kary went a little faster.

Then Kent caught up with us, when I asked he said he felt tired and not up to running with Drea today. He, in turn, asked what our pace was and Kary said “6:45”. Well, we got to the 20 mile mark with an average pace of 6:33 (which was just what I wanted, so I was pleased).

Jeff and Rob seemed intent on really doing 6:45s and dropped back from the three of us early on.

The next mile marker had been erased when they resurfaced the road, but I knew roughly where it was. I clicked my watch, but didn’t look at it. I see now we were running at a 6:24 pace.

Then a nice little dip, and back up to Los Positas. Loud footsteps behind. Ricky, Kurt and Tim come zipping past. When I looked at my watch it said 6:07. Glump. That’s too fast for me, so I drop back from Kent and Kary.

The road here is full of runners, and they are also moving fairly fast. Even though I’ve slowed I’m so excited to be passing people that I haven’t slowed much. My watch now reads 6:08.

Marcello passes me.

Drea and Rusty pass me. And then pass Kary and Kent. Except Rusty hangs around a bit to talk to Kary.

The 22 mile mark is also gone, but is somewhere near Veronica Springs. A 6:12 pace. Mostly downhill, of course.

Fewer people to pass now. Kary and Kent are far ahead. Finally I approach the group that started just before us. The last people I shall pass. They aren’t going much slower than I and I run behind them for a long time.

The 23 mile mark vanished too, but is somewhere near the bottom of the HILL. So I click my watch (6:14. Damn it how fast are the “slower” guys going?).

I’m interested to see how fast (or rather, at what pace) I can climb the HILL, so having the mile mark at its base is convenient.

I push myself, and, slowly, gradually, I catch up with and pass Joy, and Dan and Jim. And then I’m through them. It’s still a long way to the top though and I have to keep pushing even without having anyone to overtake. (Kent and Kary are way up there, I’m not going to pass them).

The top arrives (6:56 pace. Mmm. not bad. of course I shan’t be able to go that fast on race day, but not bad for today).

The top arrives, but I can’t stop, there’s still another 1/3rd of a mile to go before the turn-around. Interestingly enough I manage to speed up again and run it at a 6:21 pace. Shan’t do that race day either.

Kary just turns and comes back. She doesn’t get water. Kent does. I want water.

I turn off my watch, and then rummage in the truck for my water bottle. It seems to take forever to find my bottle among the 50 odd other bottles in the truck. Finally I do, and drink.

Kent is off, as are Jim and Joy and a number of other people I’ve already passed. They are better at finding their bottles, I guess, or maybe didn’t try.

And I’m off. Going back along what I’ve already run. Turn on the watch again and fly down the hill. Lot’s of people still coming up. I catch Jim and Joy and Dan. On after Kent and Jerry (didn’t expect Jerry to be that fast). Three quarters of a mile, downhill, run at a 6 minute pace.

Click the watch again at Los Positas.

And now begins the slow slog uphill. It’s not like the HILL, of course. It’s just a 3 mile climb back up 200ft. It’s hard. It’s long. But it’s close enough to level that you don’t feel you have a right to slow.

I pass Jerry.

Kent is maybe 20ft ahead still. Kary is off in the distance — visible, but out of reach.

At the Veronica Springs invisible mile marker I click my watch. 6:40 pace. Yeah. Sort of expected.

And I’m slowly catching Kent. Odd. I don’t usually do that, he’s faster than I now-a-days. No wonder he didn’t want to run with Drea. He really must be tired. I pass him at the intersection Los Positas and Modoc. Now it’s downhill for a bit, and I expect he’ll pass me back, but he doesn’t.

Kary is off in the distance.

Up hill again. At the next invisible mile marker I see I’ve run at 6:38 pace.

There are two runners on the road who aren’t in Rusty’s group. Kary passes them. I pass them. And now the 20 mile mark. 6:34. Now that’s what I want to run. Not bad on an uphill mile after 7 previous miles.

And now, a somewhat bumpy but basically downhill mile lies in front of me. The last one. I hear feet behind me. It’s Kent. I guess I couldn’t stay ahead of him for long (my watch tells me I’m running at 6:14 pace, and he’s still passing me). Then Mike Swan follows him. I pick up the pace a little and continue to run a little behind them until

we are done. 6:10 pace.

And 6:26 pace for the whole thing. Wow. That’s fast for me.

(Reminder to self: Doing 6:26s for 9.4 miles in a workout does not mean I can run 6:26s for 26.2 miles in a race.)

Marathon Course Map

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