I woke up yesterday with a bad case of pre-race jitters, and spent most of the day with a feeling of "oh god what have I gotten myself into". I was more nervous for this race than i was for my first half (this same race in 2011). And I think it was because, having done this 2 times already (Nov. 2011 and April 2012), I knew just how long 13.1 miles is and how hard it can be to actually complete the race. In my case, it's all mental. I'd done it twice before, and that combined with a decently strong training cycle leading up to the race should have told me that I was totally capable of doing it again. But thinking you can do it (and hearing from tons of supportive friends and family that you can do it) is very different from actually doing it.
So as I pulled into the parking lot this morning, I gave in to the voices of self-doubt in my head and nixed the plan to try to run the whole way. I just didn't feel ready for that today, so I set my watch for 5 minute run intervals with 1.5 minute walks, and nervously headed for the start line.
The race rules say that ipods and headphones are not allowed, and last year I followed that rule, but noticed that quite a few people did not. I had some trouble with the no music thing last year, so this year, I broke the rule and brought the iPod along (and once again, others did the same; I'm guessing there were more runners with than without). My original plan was to only use it when I thought I needed the extra pep that the songs can bring. But as nervous as I was before the start, I knew I was going to need it for the whole thing. I was busy getting it set to the right playlist and getting it zipped back into my pocket when the gun went off and it was time to run.
The first three miles were easy and seemed to take no time at all to run. And other than my sunglasses fogging up every time I switched to a walk, I had no problems and was feeling awesome. But by about mile 4, as I exited Harris Riverfront Park, my right hip started to feel a little sore. It was also starting to get a little warm, so I stripped off my arm warmers, and kept plodding along. At around 6 miles, the course enters a park and you have to run on a crushed gravel path/trail. Normally, I love trail running, but there's something about the crushed gravel that makes this extremely difficult. It was the hardest part of the course for me last year, and wasn't that great this year either. Not long after the mile 9 marker, I exited the park and was back on the road - with a slight incline and a nice little jaunt through a slightly scary underpass/viaduct. And then at mile 10, there's the dreaded (at least for me) wrong way turn, sending you away from the stadium and the finish.
And here's where the race kind of fell apart for me. My hip which had been hurting since mile 4 really started to let me know it wasn't happy with me. And not to be left out, my left foot started to hurt and give me problems. So here I was with 3 miles to go, physically tired and sore. And I made the mistake of looking at my total time on my watch, and while I was under 2 hours at the 10 mile point, I wasn't far enough under to meet my time goal, so I kind of mentally gave up too.
In mile 11, I walked through all of one run interval and part of the next to give the foot, the hip, and the brain a little break. Allowing myself to walk a bit extra took some of the pressure off and I was actually able to enjoy the last mile. So much so that it didn't even seem like a whole mile. Ok, so maybe the marathoners coming toward me telling me I was looking good and almost done may have had something to do with it. And the people along that last stretch who told me they liked my sparkle skirt/outfit certainly helped too.
|2012 Marshall Half Marathon Medal|
I crossed the last street and at the corner smiled and waved at my parents who were there waiting for me, and headed into the stadium. I entered the football field to a yell of "Go Sparkle Skirt Girl!" and I picked up the pace and headed around to finish in 2:29 and change. (2:29:06 on the garmin, 2:29:22 officially).
I didn't run the whole way. I didn't meet my time goal. I didn't run a PR. But I finished. And even with though it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows, I had fun. I ran the best race I could. And that in and of itself is a pretty big accomplishment.