I was careful to hold my pace back in the first mile, aiming for 9:00. I wanted to get faster, not slower, for miles 2 and 3. And no stinkin' walking this time! I was off to a good start, finishing the first mile in 8:54. I felt really good here- not uncomfortable at all. Mile 2 was a gradual downhill to the turn around point and it was fun to see the leaders coming back toward the finish line. Apparently the 2 guys in the (way) lead were led off course- Jake wasn't far behind me and he saw that. I saw my friend at this point, too. I figured she was the 5th or 6th woman at that point (she ended up finishing 6th). As soon as I made the turn around I realized that gradual downhill had turned into a long, gradual uphill. Against the wind. Ugh. I made it through that and the end of mile 2 with a pace of 8:43. Somewhere around this point I heard a girl younger than me telling herself, or maybe the girl next to her, "Don't be afraid." Interesting thing to say during a 5k but for whatever reason it became my mantra for the next mile. Don't be afraid... to keep running when it hurts, to push harder, to die. Whatever. It kept me going and I didn't walk when it started to hurt. I didn't quit running when I knew we were near the end but we turned onto a street with yet another hill. I wasn't afraid. I finished mile 3 with a pace of 8:55. I didn't have much sprint left in me at the finish line but I gave it what I had. Enough to ceremoniously dry heave after crossing the finish line. That's becoming pretty routine. I stopped my Garmin at 27:30 (which I hoped was a second later than it should have been stopped so I could make my "B" goal- and I was pretty sure it was because I didn't want any finish line photos to be of me stopping the watch). Yay for a PR!!!
We stuck around for the awards because we were almost certain my friend placed and I wanted her to have pictures. Sure enough she did- she WON her age group with a PR of 23:20 (I'm so not telling her where I'm racing when she turns 30 and joins my age group... she kicked my ass by over 4 minutes!!!). I got some pics of her just in time for the announcement of my age group winners. 3rd place- not me, 2nd place- not me... OK, guess I didn't place because there's no way I won. Then the guy said, "and with a time of 27:29-" WHAT?!? Hey! That's MY time!!! I WON MY AGE GROUP!!! I was shocked. But so freaking excited. 1st out of 33 for age 30-34, 24th female, 98th overall out of 385.