Adam and I woke up before the sun on Saturday to head on out to the National Half Marathon. The race started at 7am, so it was still dark (and only about 30 degrees!) when we got to the starting line around 6:20.
Adam is much faster than I am, so I was planning to run the race with Carolyn, who was actually going to be running the full marathon. Carolyn and her husband ran into some traffic issues, so they actually got dropped off several blocks from the starting line and made it to the corral shortly before the gun went off. We still had about 20 minutes to wait until it was finally our turn to cross the starting line.
Because it was so cold, I didn’t really feel my legs for the first mile and a half. Our first mile was a bit slower than our goal pace, but we ended up picking it up after that. Around what I think was mile 3 (there were hardly any mile markers – just miles 1, 5 and 10, which was SO annoying), I finally got feeling back in my toes.
I am so glad that I had Carolyn to run with. She is definitely faster than I am when we cover the same distance, but because she was running the marathon, her pace was closer to mine. Having her there definitely pushed me to keep up my pace, especially through the hilly middle miles. It was also nice that she was wearing a Garmin, so I had some idea how far/fast I was running even without the mile markers. I think we kept a fairly steady pace, until we hit mile 11.5. Then, I hit a wall. That was the farthest I’d ever run without walking and my legs were all, “what is up with this? why are we still going?” (I had completed 12 miles in my training, but had walked a mile during that run.) I told Carolyn to go on ahead, but I kept running and I kept her in my sights. At what I think was about 12.5 miles, I picked up the pace again and managed to catch up to her. We ran the last half mile or so before the split together before I wished her luck, then turned the corner to make my way to the half marathon finish line.
As I rounded that last corner, “I Gotta Feeling” – which is my current kick-ass/get-pumped song – came on! It was as if it was meant to be! (It actually was playing as I crossed the finish line of the Four Courts Four Miler, too.) Once I heard it, I busted it out to the finish line.
I crushed my old PR by 12 minutes!
And I didn’t walk a single step. (Not even through water stations… I carry my own water bottle.)
When I set out to train for this race, my goal was to set a PR in this distance. I had hoped that I might be able to come in around 2:30. After how poorly I finished my last half marathon (hobbling most of the last three miles as the muscles in my legs seized up), I hadn’t even considered the possibility that I’d beat 2:25, even though I had adjusted my training this time around to include 11 and 12 mile long runs. I just wanted to finish strong and without pain.
I finished strong and with a big fat smile on my face.
Distance: 13.1 miles
Sometimes, I get down on myself because I am not fast, because running does not come naturally to me. I feel like I’m not good enough when I read about how people had a “slow” race due to injury, and still crushed my time. I get frustrated when new runners go out for the first time and knock out an 8 minute mile, no problem, when it took me years of running to get to the point where I’ve been able to do that… once.
But I have to remember just how far I’ve come. I am not naturally athletic. Running doesn’t come easy to me. I have to work hard at it. I have worked hard at it.
Two years ago, I wrote that I could barely complete 5 miles without feeling like I was dying.
Three days ago, I ran 13.1 miles without walking a single step.