The Sioux Falls half marathon was hard. Physically, yes, but emotionally even more so. My mom is my biggest cheerleader and spectator and the SF half is the race she never misses. Ever. During her last day on the planet, I told her she needed to start training as soon as she got to heaven, because I'd need her with me for my races. She responded that she'd be there (meaning at my races). Cue all the tears.
The week of the race I had a horrific cold, brought on partly by all the stress of the previous couple of weeks plus allergies, but there was no way I was missing my twelfth consecutive Sioux Falls half.
I got to the race start insanely early to take a group photo with my SFWR ladies. Look at that monster group! I remember when there was like... ten of us!
Going in to this race, I didn't have any real goals other than to finish. And then I stopped at the 605 Running Co. booth that were giving away a sweet prize for whomever could predict their race time the closest. So I wrote down my absolutely A++++ time prediction.
When the race started, I was happy that it had a new start and route this year, because I would've completely lost it running around Howard Wood without seeing my mom there cheering for me. As it was, I still started the race crying all through the starting chute and out on to the street. Woof. This might be a rough day.
The first few miles were around the park and the historic district. The first two miles are nice and flat and then we start a decent climb in mile 3. I was taking in the miles, ignoring my pace (other than to make sure I wasn't starting too fast) and was just thankful to be running.
Miles 4 and 5 were mostly downhill with some uphill stretches. Mile 4 has the longest downhill in the course (this year with the added benefit of running UP it at the end of the race, uff) and the one I'm always extra careful to take it easy on so my quads don't sieze up on me. At about 5.5 miles in we started our gradual way back up up up! This is also the spot that my mom is always at, and luckily the only part of the course that didn't change, so I knew there would be tears here and I was prepared for that. I'm sure this year she was there and was thrilled now to have to deal with the traffic of the race spectators. :P
4. 10:195. 10:28
With about five miles to go, I was spent. Drained, emotionally and physically and just ready to be done. I put on some music to help tune out the world, and started to implement some walk breaks to bring my heart rate out of the scary zone. Uff. There was a decent hill in mile nine, and since I'd taken a little walk break earlier, I made myself run up 90% of it. Uff da.
7. 10:488. 10:42
Somewhere in this stretch I started to do "finish line math" to see what my finishing time was. I realized I was nearing my half marathon PW. And even that couldn't keep me from taking walk breaks. I was done-zo and if I had to walk the whole way to the finish line, so be it. (Spoiler alert: I didn't, but it sure felt that way!)
10. 11:2211. 11:08
Mile 12 was the slowest of the day and I remember being hot and ready to be done. Somewhere in mile 13 there was a lovely breeze at my back that was cooling and pushing me along, so I dug in and ran as hard as I could.
12. 12:2213. 9:58
I finished 13.26 miles in 2:22:59, just a mere 10+ minutes from my race prediction time. Ha. So close.
The finish line was inside the arena, so my friends and family had a hard time finding me, as I didn't run with my phone. Emily and Megan found me as I was going to grab my phone at the bag check and told me that Kyle got yelled at by security for trying to bring the pug into the arena, thus missing my finish.
It was a really hard day to run 13.1 miles (or 13.26, but who's counting) but I'm really thankful that I did it. Sometimes it's nice to prove to yourself just how capable you are of doing something that is hard.