1) It rained.
2) I was slow.
3) I had friends "stalking" me.
4) I finished.
I'm always nervous before a race (especially a half) but the thought of running 13.1 miles and being on the course for 2.5++ hours in the rain had me questioning whether I really wanted to do this race. Compound that with training that didn't go as well as it should have/needed to, and I was feeling particularly doubtful about my chances.
I knew I had specific points I had to get to by a certain time or I ran the risk of getting swept and riding to the finish in a bus. I'm slow, and am almost always somewhere towards the back of the pack. But this was the first race where I actually thought getting swept was a very real possibility. My friends were all supportive and full of encouraging words, such as "come on, you know you can walk that minimum pace. You've so got this" when I voiced my doubts of finishing multiple times over the weekend. I was full of responses that started something like "yeah, I know I can, BUT..."
The first few miles were downright miserable - it was cold; it was raining; my socks were feeling really weird. But I was able to stay pretty consistent with my pace - right where I wanted to be. But then I started to think, and when I think in a race it's usually not a good thing. I don't think happy positive thoughts; nope, I start dwelling on the bad. And since running is very much a mental sport, it all goes downhill from there (and not the good, literal downhill.)
I started thinking it was too hard, my feet hurt, there's hills coming and I can't do hills. So I essentially gave up. I was still putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward, but I had no fight, no drive, to do anything more than the bare minimum.
The one positive thing keeping me going was my own personal group of stalkers. They were out there, popping up at various points of the course, to ring their cowbells, hold their signs, and yell and cheer me on. They were very good at it. I often heard them before I saw them. Having your own spectators, where you don't have to rely on the "go random stranger" signs or pretend the signs for others with the same name are for you, is pretty awesome.
And that was the race. I started in the rain, I put one foot in front of the other, I got high fives and cheers from friends, and most importantly, I finished.
Pittsburgh Half Marathon
Sunday, May 1, 2016
Finish Time: 3:07:49 (Garmin); 3:08:20 (official)
Place: 13,244 of 14,132 overall; 7,928 of 8,597 women; 837 of 917 age group