Unedited. Taken by Steve right after I crossed. Unofficial time (by my watch) 1:59:00.
- My official time: 1:58:56 (9:04 pace), top 27% of all finishers, 40/288 in women, 5/53 in gender/age group (F/35-39)
- Steve’s official time: 1:53:41 (8:40 pace), top 17% of all finishers, 82/286 in men, 17/50 in gender/age group (M/35-39)
I came in 5th in my age group! WAHOO!
Great race in a beautiful park setting, but a much tougher go of it than I expected. I thought since I ran an 8:56 pace around my neighborhood that I would be able to shoot for 8:50 here on this flat course. The first 5 miles or so, I was sort of on track, averaging about 8:55. Soon after that, though, it became apparent I would not be able to improve on or even maintain that speed the whole way.
For one, I need much more acclimation practice; the heat started wearing me down early. Secondly, the course ground itself while, yes, flat, was narrower and curvier for the majority than I ever anticipated. It made it much more difficult to maintain constant rhythm. The most jolting surprise, though, was the mile and a half out and back section just after Mile 10 that was entirely on gravel – not small pebbly gravel, either, but large rock chunks on dirt – on a one- to two-if-you’re-a-small-person-wide lane both coming and going. There were grassy drop-offs on both sides, so there was nowhere else to go. People were being slow and careful. Passing was tricky. I had the clear thought that this is how races are, how running is in general, that we have to be adaptable to our circumstances. I stayed focused, but my ankle almost gave way once anyway. Eek.
My training paid off in every way, though. I felt strong. My form and posture were solid, with no shuffling, only smooth and even strides. Every time I felt myself sag even slightly, I pulled myself together and quickened my leg turnover to match my breathing tempo. My arms were very relaxed and angled right at my side. I implemented the new breathing method, falling very early on into a 3:2 count and adjusting as needed to 2:1, then 2:1:1:1 on parts where I pushed, basically the whole last few miles of the race. It all worked beautifully.
As if I needed proof of this, when I was on that aforementioned gravel section, close to the end of it, where the pavement was once again in sight, I narrowly passed a lovely young gal running just slightly more slowly than I was and as I passed her, she said to me “you go on, girl, you’re looking STRONG!” I glanced back and fist pumped at her. What an incredibly nice thing to say to a fellow runner – and especially one who is passing you! It carried me through to the end, it did.
After that gravel part, I had to readjust to the flat ground and when I checked my watch, I realized I was barely going to hit under two hours if I didn’t get going. That’s when this week’s painful speed work came into play. I put in my mind that attitude of “it hurts, but it only hurts for this 10 minutes and then you’re done” and I dug down deep to get myself that last 1.25 miles to the finish. Big thanks to the old guy at the end stretch who said “point two to go, Half Marathoners, you can make it!” Yeah.
As I pulled in to the finish line, I started wildly waving my hands in the air and yelling. I cannot WAIT to see if they got any photos of that haha! I was so happy. I knew I had reached my original intended goal of coming in under two hours and was crazy thrilled. I scanned the crowd for Steve and my mom, got hugs and got water.
All in all, it was as fantastic as I’d hoped. There will always be more races and more milestones, but for today, I am reveling in the moment because unlike my first Half Marathon, my pride is also intertwined with satisfaction and contentment, in knowing I did the very best I could. I’m going to float on that for a while… and I’ll tell ya something. There is nothing that feels quite as fulfilling as being the kind of person I always wanted to be. I DID IT. I kept my promises to myself. I set a goal, worked hard and I did it. *Sob* The best.