A half marathon located seven miles away just has to be run. Its local, it’s cheap and this year they had ladies cut tech shirts. But just like this past spring I found myself in a mileage dilemma. My training schedule called for 22 miles. This time through I am really committed to running my long runs as they are on the plan. I want to run the full number not just two twenty milers. I know it has been said that you can race a hard half and call it a day but this time I was determined.
So on Sunday I got up at 5:30 and headed over to pick Beth up at her house. Or as it is known on that day, “Mile Nine”. We arrived early and headed in to pick up our packets and then back to the car to chat. We had nearly two hours until the start. My plan was to do a three mile warm up, run the race and complete the remaining six miles after the race. I headed over to the track to run for about a half hour and then back to the car to get Beth, hit the potties and jog around the start. We squeezed our way between the 8 and 9 minute pace signs. I told Beth she should have no trouble with her sub two hour goal and we were off.
This year the race started with the 5k started at the same time. This made for some initial congestion but was necessary as they had to temporarily close down a major roadway for the 1200 runners to cross. Luckily it broke up sooner than I thought it would and after the first mile we split.
It’s funny how race adrenaline kicks in and makes your race pace feel right. The two mile marker was the first one I saw and I was amazed to look down at 16 minutes exactly. The miles clicked by and I found myself on the familiar shaded roads near the little league ballpark my boys play at. I have run here many times during long practices. I took a gu at mile 5 (really 8 for the day) I don’t usually take anything during a half but I kept my total mileage in mind. With each mile marker my pace continued in multiples of 8. I was maintaining my PR pace and I felt great. Around mile seven I was in full sun. I had decided to try to run without my fuel belt during this race because I knew there were plenty of water stops. I was taking either water or Gatorade at each station. So far so good. No regrets about not wearing the fuel belt. I kept thinking about my pace. How am I able to maintain it? How does my body keep it consistent? How many miles left? Just after the nine mile marker I looked up and saw Beth’s family. All four of them decked out in their Sunday best; Jets jerseys. I gave them a huge wave and soldiered on to the final four miles of the race. I started to doubt my ability to maintain my pace. I knew I had time in the bank but I really wanted that PR. After the eleven mile marker we headed down a residential street for a short out and back to make up a bit of mileage due to the course change. I found that annoying so close to the end of the race.
Random thoughts like “why the hell do I do this”, popped in and out of my mind. I could feel the salt from my sweat drying on my face. I gave the last two miles everything I had and kept telling myself that I had less than 15 minutes of running left.
As I headed down toward the finish I saw that a PR was a possibility. The reality was I was one second slower! I was kind of disappointed since I thought this course was not as hilly as Danbury back in April. Was it the warm weather? Was it my recent increase in treadmill running? I did not let myself dwell on it but it is something to consider.
A 1:46:58 Half finish is still a great time!
I collected my medal, downed some Gatorade and walked back to the car to send my family a text and get out of my sneakers. I made it back to the finish just as Beth crossed the finish at 1:59:35! Mission accomplished!
We grabbed some food and then I dropped her off at home. Back at my house the boys were up and ready to go. I still had those six additional miles to consider and as it turned out I would find myself back on the race course just outside the ball field during Mikey’s practice that just a few short hours later. A very choppy 22 miles but completed nonetheless!
Thank Goodness I work at a Public school and had the next two days off because man was I tired. And my legs well, they were shot !