I woke up race morning feeling rested and ready to run. I had zero race nerves which made me think I was either 100% confident in my race abilities or I had zero mental game going in to the race. This should be interesting! We had a 90 minute drive to the race start, and it was a gorgeous drive. We got to the race start super early as there was a 5k an hour before the half marathon and the race packet said that parking would be almost impossible after the 5k had started. I picked up my bib and race packet and then we hung out in the car for a bit before it was time to warm up.
Before too long, it was time to make our way to the start for the race I wore all purple as November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness month. Crazy fact: My mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer mid-October 2015. A few weeks later was Pancreatic Cancer Awareness month and she didn't live to see another one. 74% of pancreatic cancer patients survive more than a year after diagnosis. Pancreatic cancer has one of the lowest 5 year survival rates at 9%. From my mom's diagnosis to her passing was 10 short months, and she actually had a lot more time than others typically get because her's hadn't yet spread when she was diagnosed. Pancreatic cancer moves fast and typically doesn't have symptoms until it has spread fast and furiously. In mid-October my mother was told that there was no hope for curing her cancer and the best they could do as a medical team was extend her life as best they could. If you're interested in donating money toward research for pancan, or would like to join the mailing list to see how you can wage hope for future patients, check out pancan.org.
The weather was warmer than I had hoped, in the mid to low 50s, but the breeze was making the temperatures feel decent. It was humid. Kathryn wasn't sure if she'd be able to navigate the race course and a new town to spectate so I expected to be on my own for a couple of hours! Game time!
We started off the race and my left calve pain dissipated pretty quickly. I could still feel it throughout the race, but at least it wasn't the stabbing pain I've been feeling on and off. I didn't pay much attention to my watch that first mile, opting to run by feel, so I was fairly surprised when my watch beeped at me for mile 1.
While alright then! The route was rolling hills but I felt strong on the uphills and the downhills were mild enough that I wasn't worried about hurting my IT bands. I was shocked at the paces my watch was showing me, but I was feeling GREAT! Lately a few of us runners have been talking about how we train hard in hopes that 1 or 2 out of every 10 races, everything aligns--physically, mentally, race weather, strength, course, and we have that magical unicorn race. I WAS HAVING THAT RACE.
I didn't even panic when mile 3 was an 8:36. Because it felt good. Just fine. What in the world is happening? Mile 4 was mostly uphill, but I felt strong, and was leap frogging with a couple of ladies and one guy, and it was helping to keep my competitiveness flowing. Around mile 3 was when my distance on my watch started to not match the mile markers. I was ahead of the markers for 1 and 2 and was .05 over at mile 3. I had hoped that they were put in the wrong spot, but didn't really care because I was flyyyyying. Mile 5 was another strong mile at a sub 9 pace, with another larger uphill followed by a nice downhill. Somewhere in these two miles, I started a new mantra, "Today is my day." Because it was.
Mile 6 had a couple of smaller hills but I was feeling great and maybe even snuck a peek at my watch at 6.55 miles and squealed when I doubled it for a possible finishing time--1:57. Even if the HILLS in miles 10 and 12 were as bad as I expected, surely I could hang on for a sub 2 finish!
Today is my day.
Mile 7 had flattened out for the most part, and I was surprised that I was slowing a bit. My body seemed to appreciate the rolling hills of the first half of the race, and all I ever really run is flat flat flat. Interesting. Mile 8 brought some steeper rolling hills and my hip flexors started to feel a little fatigued. I've been noticing an increase in heart palpitations in the past month, only while sitting around not doing much (something I've experienced for the past 10 years) but my heart started to flutter a little bit and it kind of freaked me out!
We turned the corner in mile 9 and I actually said aloud, "holy shit" at the hill that laid ahead of me. Except we didn't have to run up that hill, PHEW! However, we did have to run up that hill laid out over the course of the next mile. Up, turn the corner, up, turn the corner, more up, and turn the corner. I fought the mental fight of walking a million times, knowing if I could just keep going as slow as I was going uphill I could finish under two hours. At some point I gave in. I had two little walk breaks during the two of the three big hills in this mile. I had another decent walk in mile 10.
I stopped calculating my finishing time after my walk breaks. I also started to get really annoyed with going back and forth on the road several times each mile. The race wasn't closed to traffic so we ran along with traffic on the shoulder, and there were many twists and turns, so each time we hit a turn, we'd have to cross the road to be seen by oncoming traffic. So annoying, especially as my mental game was slipping. Luckily mile 11 was a flat portion.
Mile 12 I was just ready to be done. Where is this finish line?!?! There was a smaller high and I took two tiny walk breaks. I HATE walking in a race but I *especially* hate walking in the final miles of the race. Grumble grumble. Somewhere in here I re-calculated my finishing pace and realized I would have to run strong to finish under 2:05 and that was still something to be damn proud of considering ALL OF THE WALK BREAKS and ALL OF THE HILLS. Mental game: refocused!
There was another hill at the start of mile 13 and I just tried to push through. The traffic was super heavy on both sides of the street and there was no one there stopping traffic. I was very annoyed I was on the wrong side of the road for the finish line and spent a lot of time looking over my shoulder for a safe time to cross. Not ideal for a finishing stretch. I finally made it across with what I thought was about .75 left in the race and tried to haul booty from there.
The final sprint in I zoomed to pass a guy in front of me, ruining Kathryn's finishing photo of me. Oops. He should've sped up!
.25 1:54 (7:37 pace, 6:30 max pace)
I finished 13.25 miles in 2:04:17 for a pace of 9:23.
Kathryn killed it at race spectating and photo taking and cheering her booty off. And I managed to hit my A goal after losing my brain for 3 miles. WIN!
Half marathon #32 is done!