I started off at a comfortable pace as four others shot out considerably faster. By the 3/4 mile mark, one of the four had a shoelace issue and had to pull off to the side. The other three were pacing off of each other at what seemed to be a 6:00/mile pace. Mile 1 - 6:13 and I was already in no-mans land feeling a little tight and not entirely relaxed. Mile 2 - 6:15 and watching up ahead as one of the three leaders was falling behind. Miles 3-4 averaged out at 6:18 and I was almost caught up with the third place runner. I passed him during mile 5, which was either short or downhill, 5:52. My parents drove by a couple times at this point and even pulled off the side of the road to snap a few photos. I started to feel really strong and had a solid sixth and seventh mile, 6:12 and 6:07. Overtook second place by mile 8 but was too far back (or so it seemed) to make an effort to chase down the leader. One of my friends who has won many races and competed at somewhat of an elite level told me never to stop running hard because you never know the condition of the runners in front of you. Mile 10 - 6:13. Mile 11, 6:12, took us onto a dirt trail heading directly back to the stadium. Mile 12 - 6:13. I made an attempt to run a fast 13th mile and did OK, 6:10, but was starting to lose steam. I did well to listen to my friends advice because the leader was just finishing as I hit the track for the last 1/4-mile. Official finish time, 1:21:13 (6:12/mile), which is a personal best for me in the half-marathon.
Sunday - Hit the road at 6AM for 4 miles before meeting up with Cathy at 6:30 to run the last 16 miles of my final 20-miler before Cleveland. Again, it was a little on the chilly side but there wasn't a cloud in the sky. I had warmed up by 3 miles and ran comfortably throughout. I remember running one other "effortless" 20-miler before Boston '06 but they don't come along very often.
It's officially taper time!!