Last minute I signed up for this half marathon on Saturday, April 12. The race was supposed to gauge my fitness, evaluate how my training has been going and indicate how fast I could potentially run during my June 1 marathon. Prior to the race I’d had a rough couple of weeks mentally, and found myself fraught and terrified of this 13.1. I worried I would fail miserably and therefore detrimentally dampen my mental strength for the remainder of my training.
Race morning I woke up at 4:45AM and was out the door by 5:05. The race was about an hour north, giving me plenty of time to mull over my anxiousness. It was a quaint and local race, bib numbers went up to the 700s—including 5K and the half marathoners—but only about 200 women were racing the half. The start and finish were location at Live Oak Park, and the park setting combined with a relatively petite field size gave me flashbacks to high school cross county meets. Those memories relaxed me.
I aimed to keep a 7:30 pace, and was unsure how I felt about blowing through the first mile in 7:12 and the second in 7:23. Maybe two miles in I heard my name, turned to my right and saw my soccer friend Sascha running! It was a pleasant surprise and I ran with him for six miles or so.
The constant rolling hills on this course were pitiless. The first hill I tried to stick to my mantra “Hills are my friend, I love hills” and whispered those lines to myself repeatedly. By the fifth hill, my positive thoughts were depleted and I simply exclaimed “fuck this” audible enough for the girl running next to me to approach me after the race, recall my cursing and giggle.
I was in third place the entirety of the race, with the first place woman about 100m ahead and the second place woman about 50m ahead. It me took half the race to understand why people kept pointing at me and exclaiming “Three! Third!” The last few miles I slowly crept up to the two women ahead of me and in the final 1.5 miles really cranked it up. I moved into first place with three quarters of a mile to go and started flying due a downhill finish. I ran that last mile in 6:26—I’m speechless.
For those that care, I averaged a 7:16 pace, ran a 1:35:26 (for a 5 minute PR) and had the following splits: 7:12, 7:23, 7:35, 7:50, 7:19, 7:05, 7:05, 7:33, 7:19, 7:14, 7:31, 7:24, 6:26.
I’ve never won a race and it was perhaps one of the most wonderful, yet equally odd, feelings I’ve ever had. Admittedly, I was more excited about my average pace and personal PR. Perhaps, I need to re-evaluate my goal time for my upcoming marathon?