Pre-race at Steamtown is always nice - well-organized, plenty of porta-potties, and you can stay warm inside Forest City High School until race time.
Plus the race starts with a cannon, which is pretty cool. It made my mom jump, even though they warn you several times that it is, in fact, a real cannon.
This was the first year that Steamtown had pace groups, which actually threw me off a bit. I was behind a pace group at the beginning and couldn't quite read the sign and thought it was the 4:15 group. I panicked and sped up a bit to pass them. Once I was ahead of them I realized it was the 4:00 group. I decided to see how long I could keep them behind me.
The first half of the race went really well, I hit the half marathon mark at 1:58 and was feeling strong. Around mile 17 things started to go south. My right IT band started tightening up (which I have never had a problem with before), and soon the entire outside of my right leg was in pain. I kept hoping it would work itself out, but unfortunately it had other plans.
Tom brought his bike and popped up on the course from time to time to cheer me on. In the later miles I wasn't really in the mood to chat and he asked if I wanted him to just head to the finish line. I managed a not so nice, "yes please" so I could trudge out my pain-fest in quiet solitude.
The last few miles got progressively slower, and there was definitely some walking involved. I managed to run in the final stretch, and completely forgot about the photographer at the finish line.
This is me grabbing my leg in pain just as the volunteers at the finish line looked concerned and asked if I was ok. Sorry photographers, but I don't need a nice copy of this one.
Between the pain in my leg and my frustration with the race, there may have been some tears at the finish. It was (and still is) hard to accept that after training all summer, the race went so poorly. Tom and my mom were there to console me, and helped me hobble my way back to the car.
I had hoped to break 4 hours this year, or at the very least beat last year's time, but I ended up finishing 10 minutes slower than last year. 4:21:09.
On the bright side, I finished. I did have a few moments where I wondered how long it would take one of the bicycle medics to find me if I just sat down on the side of the road, but I kept going.
Steamtown really is a great race, regardless of how things went this year. The course is beautiful and the crowd support is amazing for the size of the race (they cap it at 3,000 runners). In addition to the actual aid stations, there are unofficial aid stations that offer everything from water and gatorade to orange slices and beer. Plus, there is a huge group of people on the final hill to cheer you on, and even a few people who run up and down the hill countless times to help suffering runners keep going.
It wasn't the best day, but I did it. And let's be honest, I'll probably do it again.