Every time I ran the last week of June it was absolutely awful. My legs hurt, my lungs hurt, my heart wasn't in it, and it was hard. 8 minute miles that felt ridiculously easy in January were ugly.
This cutback week was supposed to be rejuvenating. Instead, I questioned not only how I was going to make it to marathon day, but how I was going to make it through the next minute of running.
In retrospect, I had 2 circumstances that were forcing the issue of suck in my running:
1) Heat and humidity=harder effort
2) My store is undergoing a remodel and let's just say that communication, planning, and execution have been spotty at best.
Enter last Sunday. I ran after work, getting in 8 miles at around 6pm. There had been signs placed at various spots along the Greenway advertising a race on July 4th for weeks, but I never really paid them much attention because I assumed was going to be working. Just past the second mile, I caught notice that there was a half marathon offered according to the sign. I contemplated this for another couple of miles working out the possible details in my head.
Could I be one of those runners who runs a race as a part of a training run and runs a few miles before or after to complete the mileage?
I weighed on it for a bit, posed the question to Loopville, and found myself standing in a LRS store the next day handing my credit card over for said race.
That Monday, I actually went to my main LRS first to return/exchange my Adidas Boosts. I decided they were too marshmallow-y and ended up ordering a pair of Brooks Ravennas. And like an addict, I ordered a pair of men's Wave Elixirs on Amazon because I can no longer find a women's pair in my size.
Wednesday, I scooped up the Wave Elixirs from the door step when I got home from work and proceeded to run 3 miles to break them in a bit before Friday's race.
Friday, I actually snoozed the alarm once because I was still sleeping so well. I eventually got up, drank a bit of refrigerator coffee, and had a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios. I put on my running clothes and headed to the Greenway, just like it was any other regular training run.
I got there around 6:30a.m. and the race was at 7:30a.m. Not wanting to just sit in my car, I headed over to the start area to scope things out. I realized I forgot my iPod so I went back to my car to grab it and take a faceless selfie.
We parted ways to use the porta-potties and then I decided I should maybe try to do some warm-up business to get in at least a mile before the race. 16 on the docket meant that I could run 1 before and 2 after. I was 90% sure at the time that I was just going to say to heck with the final 2 miles when I hit the finish mat.
I shuffled around a the parking lot for a total of a mile and then meandered over to the start line "corrals". There were 4 signs. I got near the 1:45 half sign and saw about 20 runners in front of me. Scott was right there and said hey, maybe I'll run with you! He was running the 10K and we were discussing a similar pace so I nodded and said, "sure!"
Three. Two. One. Go!
We shot out down 200m of the track and into the parking lot that leads down to the Greenway. I feel relaxed, strong, and oddly good from the get go, but Scott went out even faster. I give myself about a half mile before I check out my pace on Penelope.
I pull back and as much as it pains me, let a few people pass me.
The 10K runners turned around first and I saw that Scott was only about 30 steps ahead of me. I gave him a high five and continued towards the first 13.1 turnaround.
As I neared the end of the Greenway (love, love, love running on my training route!), I saw the first females come pass me. I counted 8 in front of me and not too many dudes. But I don't really care about the dudes while racing. Must be something evolutionary about that...
I didn't pass anyone again until I got to the 10K turnaround spot. Things remained relatively uneventful as I headed back to where to 10Kers peeled off for the finish. I plodded on with the half-marathoners and started to try to pick off people if I saw them. A dude with a 50 miler shirt on was starting to fade by mile 8 and a girl wearing a tri suit was (#7) was my next target.
Single rant: The very last water stop before the final turnaround was manned by four volunteers, but none of them were handing out the water. It was just sitting on the table. I'm running 13.1 miles, I can totally grab my own water. However, when I reached the stop going the other direction, I had to dodge other runners because they weren't standing on the right side. I mumbled something out of frustration (and out of character) as I grabbed my water. Totally a first world problem, I know...
Anyway, I had seen that there were exactly 6 females in front of me at the turnaround. The top 4 were not really within my reach unless they faded badly and I kicked it hard for the last 5K. But there were 2 that were about 2/10ths of a mile ahead of me. 5K left was still too far for me to kick, but I did try to push the pace.
When I reached mile 12, I started pulling in closer to #6. She was slowing, but not significantly. However, I knew if I could stay close to her, I could probably outkick her up the final hill. I knew that we'd have to go up a hill in the final half mile (home course advantage!) and I was still feeling like I could push it. So I held back until we got a few steps into the hill and then I passed her.
I heard my name being called over the speakers as I came through the parking lot. That extra gear kicked in for the final 200m as I flew toward the finish. I knew I had a new PR and probably was going sub-1:40!
I hung out through the 10K awards, took a break to sloooooowly run 2 more miles around the parking lot, and finished up in time for the half awards.
First place in my AG!