She was just slightly ahead of me for the entire race. Beige sweatshirt girl. As we headed into the final mile, she stayed just ahead of me. Alongside of me was teenage boy, who had been running right next to me for nearly the whole race, until he, too pulled just a little ahead in the final mile.
I could see the clock at this point, and saw that unless catastrophe struck, I was going to set another new PR. Wanting to make sure of it, I stepped it up a bit and passed beige sweatshirt girl, leaving teenage boy behind, also.
I continued along, huffing and puffing, almost in the chute, when suddenly beige sweatshirt girl came flying past me, heading into the chute at 24:10, while I crossed at 24:12.
I wasn't really upset at the time - I had set yet another PR, and had no thoughts of an age-group award; didn't even think it was possible. I went over to beige sweatshirt girl and congratulated her, and we exchanged a few laughs about our little game of chase at the end.
Then I chatted for a minute with one of the running club guys who I ran with yesterday morning, and headed inside for a donut and some water. A few minutes later, the first 50 finishers' results were posted on the wall, and as I headed over to check it out, it began to dawn on me that I had come in second in my age group. Second place in my age group! Something I didn't know if I'd ever achieve!
As I looked again - to be sure I was reading it right - it dawned on me that the reason I had finished second in my age group rather than first was because beige sweatshirt girl had outkicked me by those two lousy, stinkin' seconds at the finish, and SHE was the first-place finisher among females 19 - 39.
Two seconds. TWO seconds!
Could I have stayed ahead of her and not lost those two seconds and gotten my first ever age-group award? I'll never know for sure, but I do know that I didn't feel like I had ANYTHING left in my tank at that point. I ran hard the whole race. It was a much tougher race for me than the last one. Maybe because I ran yesterday, and my legs weren't as fresh? Who knows? Either way, with as hard as I felt like I was working, I never thought I'd come in under my most recent PR of 24:46, so I guess I should be glad for that.
And I am glad for that. And I am glad that I came in second in my age group. That's definitely a pretty huge achievement, and I'm thrilled. And I'm proud to have finished 23rd overall out of 65 runners, and 5th overall for women. I ran this same race a year ago and it took me more than 29 minutes to finish, so I've made some amazing progress over the past 12 months, and I do have a lot to be proud of and happy about.
But still - TWO SECONDS!!!!! Those two seconds are going to haunt me for a long time.
But they will also motivate me in pursuing my new goal, which I now realize is not just a pipe-dream: I am going to get an age-group award one of these days. I'm sure of it.
But first I'm going to rest. My calves are killing me. The only thing worse for running than big hills is beach sand. The majority of the course was fine, as the tide was low enough that there was plenty of hard packed sand to run on. But it was a double loop of the beach, and at the turnaround points, we had to run way up onto the unpacked, loose, slippery sand, which was absolutely brutal. My legs are more sore than they've ever been after a 5K from just those two turnarounds.
So tomorrow is going to be a well-deserved day off. Just as well, since it's now sleeting and snowing and it's expected to continue into tomorrow morning, and the last thing I'm going to want to do is leave the house to go for a run or go to the gym.
The night ended on a good note, though, when I met up with Scott and the boys for the tree lighting and fireworks. More on that tomorrow.....