I took this past week off due to feeling sluggish, tired, and just blah. No problem, though, for I knew I was ready for the half-marathon. Even through my freak-out fear, I still knew that I had done the work necessary to complete the race, and, most likely, crush last year's time.
And then . . .
Friday night I get a "present". So yeah, I totally get the weekly fatigue now. As I have some male readers I won't go into detail. Suffice it to say that the female physical condition which reared it's head the night before my race did not add to an optimal running experience. (This seems to happen to me whenever I have a race. Very annoying.)
I went to bed early and crampy. Only to awaken at midnight to hear the Disney channel on downstairs. This meant one thing. George had fallen asleep on the couch and Harper was still partying away. I stomped downstairs and uttered something about being the only responsible parent. Harper came upstairs. George came upstairs.
Harper proceeds to play with Scout in her room. I shout, "I have to be up at 5:30! Go to bed!"
Around 1:00 AM, I hear someone climbing the stairs. It's Zane, who apparently was asleep on the couch. George had left him there when he came up. Zane proceeds to climb into our bed.
3:30 AM: FREAKING CAR ALARM.
5:30 AM: My alarm.
Races are stupid.
Well, they are at 5:30. They cease to be stupid when your friends arrive to drive to the race. That's when the fun begins, and you remember, once again, why you do this.
It's the thrill of chasing yourself. Pushing yourself to go further than the last race. Perhaps it's because you actually enjoy the compare and contrast discussion on the pre-race routine of using the bathroom. Seriously, we talk that talk. Runners have serious potty mouths.
For me, this race was all about seeing what the past 6 months of intentional exercise have done for my running. I have seen glimpses of my progress on the training runs, but I needed to get this half-marathon notch on my belt to see it for real.
This particular race course was BEAUTIFUL. After debating short sleeve vs. long sleeve (and choosing to go with both), getting there early enough to avoid the pre-race line for the commode (see?), hydrating, and setting my playlist, it was time to set off.
It was hard to Galloway for the first mile, as we were all clumped together, and, yes, I still deal with feeling self-conscious about taking a walk break 3 minutes in, but I stuck to my guns. When I reached Mile 1, my watch said: 9:18. WHAT? Waaaaaaay too fast. For me.
Only I didn't feel like slowing down. The course was a steady decline (not really obvious) and on a trail (yeah for crushed gravel), and, frankly, I was feeling great. So, I did as I've always done. Walked my 1 minute breaks, and sped up to the point of pushing myself and passing other runners on the 3 minute run intervals. For awhile I played cat and mouse with the same steady runners, finally losing one who wasn't running really smoothly by Mile 6. Checking my watch, I realized I had just run 6 in 1:01. Unheard of for me.
I did notice that each mile was getting slower . . . only not slower as in an 11 minute pace - just successively a bit slower at each mile maker. Mile 7 was 1:12. Mile 8 was 1:24. I was slowing down. This concerned me.
However, by Mile 10, I was still ahead of my training pace, only my calf was cramping, and I was beginning to get the "lonely runner blues"- for being a Gallowayer can be solitary venture. I did see some other walk/runner's, but it was clear we weren't running the same interval's, so I couldn't hook up there.
I also knew by Mile 10 that even if I slowed down, which I did, because I had to, I would crush my 2009 time. My goal at this point was to get in before 2:24 my fastest time to date from 2005. My other goal was to have a pace under an 11 minute mile.
And then, we hit the turn to go back into town. I saw runners above me on the bridge. How do we get . . .? Holy God, what is THAT hill? There was this incline, a steep incline leading up to a bridge. While I knew this meant we were just about done, I couldn't fathom how I was going to be able to take this hill at this point in the race. My legs were fatigued here at Mile 12. Maybe I could have ferociously tackled this at Mile 8 when my legs were a bit more fresh, but, NOW?
I walked the hill, ran the bridge, walked another small hill to what I thought was the last street before the finish and then gave it what I could.
That's when two things happened:
1) Madonna's "Four Minutes" came on, the timing of which couldn't have been better, for funny enough I think I was about that far from the Mile 13 marker. It was a total Coldplay moment from my last race.
2) I glanced up to see George, Harper, and Zane a few blocks from the Mile 13 marker. I was so excited to see them. I thought they would be at finish line, but truly, I needed them at that exact spot. They gave me a spring in my step.
As I turned the corner I realized that I could possibly get in the 2:20's, but I just couldn't sprint. I decided then to enjoy the fact that I had run a PB, as I originally intended, and crossed the finish with a smile on my face at 2:21:38. 10.7 pace.
A few thoughts on this race:
- Perfect weather, perfect trail, beautiful leaves, rivers, creeks. It was the quintessential Autumn run.
- Mile One - I am going way too fast. Won't be able to sustain this pace.
- I ran over a squished mouse.
- This is the country. There's a skin of some animal.
- I am totally tail-gating here, but the path isn't always wide enough for passing.
- I think I have spotted Gallowayers.
- I need Justin Timberlake. No, not in that way.
- In four half marathon's, I've never felt this good.
- I'd like to do a 10 mile race next. Just to see how hard I can push.
- Toe feels weird. Gonna lose a nail. Sure of it. Been there before - know the feeling.
- Where'd she come from? (Out of nowhere came an older lady who I ended up beating. I heard her afterwards telling a friend, "I followed that one. In the pink." I was actually someone's rabbit!)
- Best smile at a finish I've ever experienced. "Wow," said the volunteer, "Someone is happy!"
Upon review I realized the following:
- 2002 (2:32:24, age 33)
- 2005 (2:24:32 - the year I adopted the Galloway method, age 36)
- 2009 (2:28:52, after having not run AT ALL since relaying the Baltimore Marathon in the Fall of 2005, age 40)
- ChaLEAN Extreme
- 2010 (2:21:38, age 41 BABY!)
Find a hard goal and GO FOR IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Listen, I'm not a fast runner by any means. The point is, I am choosing to tackle challenges. Doing so has helped me mentally, emotionally, and physically.
What would you like to try that you have never dreamed you can accomplish?