No, it was not a personal best. But in light of my slow healing of the achilles' tendons and an (seemingly) untimely illness during training I went into the event in a way I've often recommended to my own athletes.
The state of undertraining showed during three jaunts around the Rideau Canal and Queen Elizabeth Boulevard; I could run along at a six-something minute-per-mile clip for a quarter mile, but it took about 45 minutes to get comfortable enough to get there. There were no joyous "check in the box" or "hay in the barn" runs to speak of during the next two days, including a shutdown after fifteen minutes. I knew there was little chance of running close to the last half I ran as part of my triathlon training, but I was going to try.
Naturally, when you are running with over ten-thousand of your closest friends the best place to be is at - or near - the front. This did not happen. In fact, the only way I, or the crowd standing around me on the curb at Confederation Square, were going to get into our assigned corral at the gun was crowd surfing. The female runners were more likely to benefit from this idea; we guys were doomed.
The crowd did not thin out for five kilometers. Seriously. I didn't have much trouble going the pace I planned for, but when it came time to ask myself 'will I be able to step up the pace between now and nine miles?' the answer was a calm 'not today.'
You want to know the nice thing about racing or running a race where the splits are in kilometers?
The splits are in kilometers.
Sure, you can sit there and do all the mental 'eight (kilometers) is five (miles)' gymnastics you want, but it's great to have splits arrive at 62 percent of the time you would normally expect. It's like doing a Rock n' Roll event and getting 42 bands rather than 26...you have more stimulation. And that increase in checkpoints is especially important when you hit the 'dark tea-time of the soul' section of the run. I've learned that every race director has a bit of sadist in them; the most barren, crowd-bereft section of every run course ALWAYS comes at the same time we begin to doubt. The whole gamut of doubt. From "I doubt I can hold this pace until the finish," to "I doubt I can even finish" doubt.
I'm not going to directly attribute the performance I got - which was better than the performance I feared - strictly to increased external feedback. I still looked at my watch when my (mile) split buzzed, and found my splits more or less 30 seconds slower than my "out-of-my-mind" goal pace, but 15-to-30 seconds faster than my average training pace. However, I wasn't fixating on the difference between my GPS and the mile split marker (which I know is approximate) my heart rate data, my pace, my yada, yada, yada the entire time...all the things which can take a runner out of the race they may have mistakenly set themselves up for. And place them in the race they can feel.