Over my life, I've run several half marathons with my next one coming up in May, but I've never run or heard of a quarter marathon before this race. My wife signed us up for the Sam Costa quarter marathon, as a training run for my upcoming half. We both like the races as they keep us motivated and pumped up. There's also a half marathon at the same time, but we opted for the quarter.
Never having raced this distance before (6.55 miles), I thought about my goals going into the race and came up with a formula for what I thought I should be able to run. My last half marathon was run in November of last year with a time of 1hr 57min 31sec, and my last official 10k was in June of last year with a time of 59min 15sec. So I did some math on the way to the race, and figured out that I should be able to run an 8:54 pace and finish in just under 58:30.
It was 28 degrees outside and I was planning on wearing a long sleeve tech shirt and shorts, but thankfully I brought some other clothes with me just in case. On the drive, I noticed some flags and trees blowing significantly in the wind and I kept thinking that maybe it will warm up a little before the race start at 9:05am. But the closer it got to start time the more I realized that it was not in the cards. So, as I climbed in the car to change into my running shoes I also grabbed my tights and a second long sleeve tech shirt. With the windchill it felt like it was 19 outside, so I was happy to have the extra layers.
At a little after 9:05am the half marathoners started out on their course, some of which we would share over the 1/4M distance. At about 9:10am we got our instructions, warnings, and the countdown to the start of our race. With 317 runners in my race I started toward the front middle of the pack.
Within the first quarter mile there was a sharp turn and a steep decline where I could see the race leader begin to pull away from his contenders, and he was flying. (The winner ran a 36:28 for the course) The course wound through some neighborhoods and onto a bike path. At the first mile I realized I had gone out much faster than what I thought I should have with a split of 7:57. I thought that I was going to pay for my faster pace later. I tried to taper back my pace a little as I pushed on, but I had put together a really great playlist for this race so it was hard to slow down. Then mile number two came and went with a 7:58 mile. But, I felt good and didn't feel like I was pushing it too hard so I decided to try and keep a steady pace. If I felt like I was pushing too hard, then I would have to slow down. At this time though, I already had about a minute cushion in my pocket, so at the very least I would be able to catch my breath and get back at it.
Making a left hand turn after mile two, I was confronted with a decent hill, climbing over 50 feet in less than a half mile, which may not seem like much, but Indiana is a fairly flat state. I've not begun to work on any hill training as of yet, but I don't think I did terribly. I just shortened my stride and tried to increase my turnover a little. Mile three was finished in 8:28. The hill wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be and I kept pushing on.
Miles 4 through 6 were about the same, and nothing major happened. However, I did get the pleasure of grabbing a cup of Gatorade that was mixed heavy on the powder and light on the water. WOW! That's a shocker to the the taste buds. The splits were 8:11, 8:17, and 7:59 respectively.
The last .55 miles were ahead of me and I knew there was a good hill waiting for me near the finish line so I picked up the pace trying to push it home. I finished my first 1/4 marathon in 52min and 9seconds.
After my wife finished, we went to check the official times and found out that I finished 3rd in my age group and 39th overall. I even won a little plaque for the age group finish. My hope is that I can carry this forward as I prepare for one of my "A" races in May. It was a great day, and as much as my time goal being beaten means to me, it means even more that I can get out there and have fun running.