Three words: Ten day forecast.
For each of the preceding ten days I monitored the weather for improvement and didn't get any. Race day was a 60% chance of rain/snow mix, high temperature 39 degrees, with wind gusts up to 20 MPH to make it feel more like 30 degrees.
But every race is voluntary, and I'm choosing to put myself through this.
It'll build character.
If I can do this, I can do anything.
There's beer at the end.
Despite my motivating self talk, I was more than fretting as we stood outside pre-race shivering and debating if my layers would suffice.
Mile Six was a staircase of wide open road--wind in your face, wind at your side, repeat several times. Thank goodness for my Wicked green gloves.
Miles Seven and Eight turned onto the Glacial Drumlin Trail, a wide compacted trail blanketed with damp leaves and surrounded with just enough treeline to block the wind. Conversations stopped. Runners seemed transfixed by the methodical crunch of shoes on wet gravel. It was peaceful enough to forget that your legs ached.
Mile Ten was a cruel joke, as the mile marker said "11", so for ten whole minutes I had no idea if the race was 13.1 miles or 12.1 miles.
Mile Eleven confirmed the race was 13.1, as that mile marker also said "11".
The last 5K was a mind game--a constant reminder to myself that I've run this distance a thousand times before, and it's almost over so pick up the pace, damnit. When I rolled across the finish line at 7 minutes faster than my goal time, I was hurting. It was a deep, aching, shooting kind of pain.