Temperature/condition at race start was about 58 degrees and high overcast; for those of us from Florida that's nearly perfect conditions. Most of the local participants are good at self-seeding, and maybe perhaps a little too good, because there was a big space between the front line and the crowd. Nice problem to have.
First mile was a 6:04. I knew as I made the first turn onto the bridge on Stewart St. that it was going to be a fast start pace. I worried a little bit: 'did I just sacrifice my race for a suicidal first mile?' Second mile split was called at 12:12; I still was not pleased and knew something screwy was bound to happen. I didn't feel good at all from the get-go, really; my right hamstring was tight at the junction of the lower glute (sounds like something strength-related, but I cannot tell).
Rather than deal with the hassle of taking cups of fluid on the fly (an issue I've had in the past), or not drinking altogether (another issue I've had) I carried a small 8.5 oz bottle of water with a (whole) Nuun tablet dissolved. Half a tablet is good for 8 oz of water, but I had no clue what to do with the other half and I didn't want to put it back into the tube with the other ones. So I had something to take a hit of every ten minutes or so. A warning for those of you who might think about using Nuun as part of your hydration plan: It's mildly carbonated and it will fizz up in a hand-carried bottle; so don't use a twist-off cap or it will spray you in the face. I had a sense of deja vu every time I opened the bottle, it was like what happened to me every time someone else stuffed a lime in their Corona on Friday or Saturday evening.
Last year, there were several guys who were running near my pace for the first three-to-four miles, so I had plenty of company as we went down toward the UD boathouse and toward the bike path. This year, however, either I was going faster than my contemporaries or the field got much stronger...a great majority of the race felt like a time trial from the first two miles or so. I got the pace issue worked out on the front half of the race, fortunately, and managed to go through the first 6 miles in the low 38 range.
The first signs of 'dude, it's time to pay for those first two miles' came once we got on the bottom side of the loop (turnaround) in West Carrolton. We got onto the street (very narrowly coned off, here - barely one person wide) and off the corridor bike path at that point; I could hear the breathing and footsteps of someone behind me. I must not have been hurting as badly as I thought, because he stayed right there until we got back onto the bike path and the bridge at about 7.5 miles. Even then, the guy was not putting any big distance on me. I saw Suzanne on the bike path, running relaxed and smiling. She cheered as I went by; I looked at her with that 'I'm hurting, can you tell?' look. At the bike path, Coach Rich Davis (my coach's friend) was coming from the opposite direction (a few miles back)...looking quite relaxed. He told me 'you're 19th.' About that point, all thoughts of backing off and "mailing the return trip in" went out the window.