I figured that I would run this race by feel. I wouldn't be satisfied with myself if I didn't give it my best shot. Even knowing that I'm "still recovering", a 9:30 pace just seemed like it would be too slow- and while I didn't want to go out too fast, I also didn't want to have this just be an easy jog. It was a race, after all. Plus, with all of the negative energy I have been storing up the last few weeks, I needed something more- I needed to at least beat my first half marathon time. We talked about our public and private goals that we had had for this race on the way home. My public goal was that 2:05. I was fairly sure that barring catastrophe, I could do that with little problem. But, my private goal A was sub-2 hours, B was beating my 2:01. And I knew that I needed to go out there and see what I was capable of.
We all started out in a clump, near the 10 min mile marker. Not that that meant anything. I glanced down at my garmin early on and saw an 11:20 pace. Shoot- gotta get around these people! I dodged through the crowd with a guy from run club who was nervous about starting out too fast. For the first three miles it was pretty slow going- partly because of the crowd, and partly because I was just nervous about saving my energy for later. I hadn't run over 10 miles in quite some time, as I mentioned, and I was concerned about how my ankle would feel and how my endurance would look. At mile 3, however, I looked at the total time, around 29 min, and started to panic. That was way slower than my 'conservative' 9:30 pace, and I felt like I was just out for an easy jog. At that moment, I felt good, and I decided to pick up the pace. I left the run clinic guy, hoping I wouldn't see him blow past me later...
I kept a comfortable pace, just enjoying the run, and the weather (despite the forecast of rain, it was a lovely, sunny morning) and kept finding new people to pass in front of me. Almost every time I glanced at the Garmin, I saw 8:45s, 9:00s, and even some 8:38s. I felt great, especially after seeing those low paces I hadn't seen in months, and it inspired me to just keep at it. Around mile 6.5, I saw that I was just over 1 hour, indicating that if I kept my pace, I could achieve my private goal of 2:00. That was incentive enough to not slow down.
A little bit later, there was an out and back stretch of about 2-3 miles. The course cops told us to keep left and watch for the return trip runners. The two leaders looked super strong and super speedy. The wind was blowing towards us all the way leading up to the turnaround, and I looked forward to when it would be at my back. I also started to keep my eye out for friends I knew were ahead of me. I saw Mo and Alicia, who were both looking strong, and exchanged cheers of 'good job's with them. Not long after, I too turned around and kept my eye out for the friends behind me. I saw the guy I left at mile 4, followed by sets of several other friendly faces, including Tracy and her running buddy Jen, who both looked awesome, Lisa, doing her very first half marathon, and Madison, who gave me a high five. It was so wonderful to get to see them- it gave me something to look out for and some motivation to just keep plugging along. Somewhere in here, I was definitely in a running zone. I kept seeing great paces on my watch every time I looked, and I just felt good and really happy. It was shaping up to be a great run.
Somewhere between miles 9-10, I passed a few women, and overheard them talking: "now THIS is a hill. Just so you know" I heard one say to the other. I looked at the subtle incline we were running up, and giggled to myself. I almost said, if you think THIS is a hill, you have another one coming, reminded of the awful steep grades I climbed up just a week ago in Kentucky. I plowed past them on the "uphill" and just kept moving forward. Mile 10 was at the top of a hill, and I saw that I was around 1:32, and kept telling myself, 5k left, just keep this pace and you HAVE the goal. So, onward I went.
After mile 11, I started to get a little tired. Maybe this was partly mental, as I hadn't seen this distance in many months. I got a sharp cramp in my right side, and kept telling myself, keep going, keep going. At the water break just before mile 12, I stopped to walk. Perhaps, I walked just a little too long, and I didn't get much cramp relief, unfortunately. I looked at my watch and saw 1:51 and change, and picked it up as much as I could, bearing through the cramp. 1 mile to go. Goal within reach! I kept going and going and heard a spectator shout "a quarter mile left". I knew that if I didn't make my goal, it would be pretty close, and willed myself to push the pace. The finish line was not visible at this point, which posed a real mental challenge as far as faster running was concerned. As soon as I did see it, though, I gave it my all, and finished fast! I clicked my watch to stop and saw the time: 2:00:30! (official time 2:00:26). Well, i hadn't exactly met my goal, but close enough! I had beaten my very first time, came extremely close to my sub-2 hour goal, and had a great, smart, and FUN race! (though I couldn't help but think- what if I didn't have that cramp? what if i didn't start out SO conservatively). I saw Mo and Alicia who had both finished about a mile ahead of me (speedy speedy!) and hung out with them while we watched the rest of our friends come in strong. So many successes were had- so many PRs, and several first timers! Everyone had such a great race, and it was so wonderful to see! I am so proud of how everyone did and how happy everyone was!
It got super cold while waiting, but we burrito-ed ourselves in the space blankets until we couldn't stay any longer and hobbled back to the car to head to get some breakfast. While this was not at all my best time in the half marathon distance, I am still very proud of myself, and excited that I had no achilles pain! I am looking forward to working hard this summer and doing another half marathon in the fall, with hopefully improved results.
|After the race, smiling faces, trying to keep warm.|
(I didn't have my phone or camera, so I am stealing Tracy's pic)