This would be my 4th time running the Danbury half marathon and my first time running the race with Jill. We had run the course as a training run about a month earlier so she was familiar with it also. Jill had been staying with her father in Norwalk so we car pooled to the race. We arrived shortly before 9am only to find that the race time was 10:20 am instead of 10am. We had a lot of time to kill, but knew that we would see many friends there. We immediately met up with Brian and Torpedo and chatted to them for a while. We spent time catching up with Jeanette who has been taking some time off due to ITB pain. Jill and I also got a pre-race massage from Jeanette's husband, Tony. We also saw Don, LuAnne and Cindy.
It was now getting close to race time so Jill, Jeanette, Cindy and I decided to go to the ladies room one more time and then head outside. As usual, the bathroom line was very long and it was about 10:10 by the time we headed outside. We had to go to my car to drop off my camera and pick up our water bottles. The four of us were taking our time at the car and weren't paying attention to what time it was. Next thing you know we are walking up the street to the start line and Jill looks at her watch and tells us it's 10:20! I look at mine and it has 10:21! Oh my!!! The four of us started sprinting up the street towards the start line and as we do so the race starts and all the runners are running towards us. We weren't sure if there was a start mat to record our chips so we had to play it safe and pass all the runners to get back to the start before turning around and heading back out again. Once we did turn around we then had the task of trying to get around all the slower back-of-the pack runners to get up with the ones who would be running our pace. After about 5 minutes we settled in and laughed about the situation. I have never been late to a start and think it's especially funny since we got to the race almost and hour and a half before hand.
The course has one small loop around the Rogers park and then has a larger loop that goes through Danbury, Bethel and Redding. The larger loops goes up Mountainville Road to Reservoir Street to Route 53 and then to Side Cut Road to Long Ridge Road. There is a hill at the end of Reservoir Street and another one going up Route 53 and then Long Ridge Road has a series of rolling hills before hitting a wonderful downhill at about mile 11 to get us back to Mountainville Road and to head back to the finish. Jill has always made mention to me being a good hill runner, but we would find ourselves both walking a little on some of the hills in the Boston Buildup Series due to me having to quickly add mileage after coming off an injury. However, Jill was able to run the entire 4 miles up Wurtsboro Mountain in the 30k the previous weekend and we were both ran all the hills on this course also.
Jill and I had no specific time goals, but wanted to run a comfortable pace until the last mile. Once we got to the last mile we wanted to pick it up a little and then Jill wanted me to help her with a good finishing kick in the last stretch. The big downhill at mile 11 really energized me and gave me a huge surge of energy, but that didn't last too long. There was one last little hill right before the 12 mile marker that made me feel like I was crawling. However, right after that I knew that we had a job to do and had to pick it up a little. I could sense Jill trying to pick it up a little - although she said that it was me who was going faster. We ended up running pretty strong through the last 1.1 miles with a significant surge for the last 1/4 mile. Our splits from the course mile markers were 8:11, 8:52, 9:13, 8:56, 8:58, 9:27, 8:52, 9:16, 9:55, 9:47, 8:55, 8:19, 9:03 (last 1.1) = 1:57:43. Our official finish times were 1:58:35 and 1:58:36 with a 9:04 pace.
Upon finishing the race we saw LuAnne and Brian's friend, Dawn, who had finished just in front of us. We also saw Steve, from my work, who was pretty happy with his race. Jill and I then ran back out on the course to see how Jeanette was doing. We saw her coming towards us with about half a mile to go and she looked good and had a big smile on her face. We cheered for her and then joined her to run her in. She was feeling strong and didn't have any significant problems with her IT band.
We went inside for a while to stretch out and meet up with Cindy who had invited us back to her husband, Victor's restaurant for pizza after the race. The restaurant (Nick's) didn't open until 3pm so we had the place to ourselves. Victor and I had been co-workers back in the 80s so it was wonderful to see him again after all these years. We had a great time hanging out, talking about the race and our plans for volunteering at the upcoming Lake Waramaug Ultras. The pizza was delicious! :o)