Here's the long story.
Traffic was bad and we got there later than we'd planned. Packet pickup was easy, but I didn't have time to warm up before the race start.
Mile 1: We took off slightly down hill. I passed a lot of people who should have started further back in line. Then we headed up the monster hill. Going out it wasn't too bad because it's less steep. You crest one hill, have a little break going downhill, and then have one more uphill part before you start down a steep decline. Mile 1 time 8:10. Also, at this point I noticed that my GPS was going off waaaaay before we hit the mile marker. This made me a little nervous.
Mile 2: Pretty flat. We got some wind coming off the lake, but because we were running parallel to it, it didn't really slow me down. Mile 2 time: 7:25. I was a little concerned by this because I was afraid I'd blow up on the way back. I was feeling "in the groove" though so I just hung with it. GPS went off way before mile marker again.
Mile 3: Still flat. Almost to the turn around. Passing a lot of people. Some chaos at the water stop because wind was knocking the cups over and spashing water everywhere. Mile 3 time: 7:33.
Mile 4 and 5: Pretty much the same as mile 3. We got both head and tail wind as we were coming around the lake. Mile 4 time: 7:48. Mile 5 time: 7:45.
Mile 6: Back over the monster hill. This way is steep. The race got tough for me here because I got passed by a lot of people going up the hill. I just kept telling myself "even effort, you'll catch them on the way down". And for the most part I did. It's funny that as uncoordinated as I am, I pass a lot of people on downhill stretches. I felt a lot better after the downhill, but I had no idea what my time was at that point. I'd only been checking my watch at the mile markers, and I knew I was somewhere around an 8 minute mile. We turned the last corner, and I saw the clock at 49:4X. I was completely shocked that I had the chance to break 50 min for the first time, so I picked it up and finished hard, passing people right at the end. Mile 6 time: 8:24. Last .2: 2:30.
Overall official stats were 49:30min (7:58 min/mile average) finish, which I was very very happy with (not to mention surprised). My GPS tells a slightly different story. I guess I wasted a lot of time/distance passing people at the beginning, because it shows I ran 6.35 mi in 49:35 (7:48 min/mile). If that's true, I ran the same pace as my 5k PR in the fall on a tougher course. Pretty good improvement. Either way, I guess I'm not so out of shape after all.
I have one more shorter race in April, but the next big one will be the Madison 1/2 Marathon in May. I'm hoping that this is just a taste of what the running year has in store for me.
Today is a rest day from running. I'm doing some strength training in the morning and hopefully some yoga after work.
Take care, and have a great Monday! Thanks to all of you who stuck this post out to the end to share in my excitement.