May 1st arrived, RACE DAY! My first race of 2016.
After a very restless sleep, I woke up to a steady rain. If it was any other day I would go back to sleep until the rain stopped or at least slowed. But over the last 12 weeks I have logged 142 miles to train for this race. It was not going to be a pleasant run but I didn’t know want my registration to go to waste and as one person told me.. I might as well go and if for nothing else treat it like a training run
I had laid out my clothes last night; that would keep me warm and semi-dry, I decided to wear my new shoes and I had pinned my number to my shirt so I didn’t stumble around this morning. I also had french-braided my hair- one of my race day traditions (or superstitions). I had my usual pre-race breakfast- eggo waffleswith peanut butter plus half a banana.
As I left the house in pouring rain, and drove to the race I just kept thinking… This sucks, this sucks, this sucks!! And hoped the rain would lighten up. As I got close to the start line I took a wrong turn even though it’s not the first time I have been to this race! The rain was just throwing me off, and I hoped it wasn’t a sign for how the race would go! When I got to the parking lot there was hardly anyone there. So it made me wonder if everyone else was staying home! Since I got to the race an hour early (mainly for the good parking spot), I just hung out in my car to stay warm and dry. It wasn’t until a half hour before the race did I use the bathroom (which were thankfully inside a stadium) and 15 minutes before the race I donned a cheap poncho and went to the start line to warm up, thankfully by then more runners had showed up.
As we all lined up at the start it wasn’t pouring as hard now but there were some technical difficulties so we all had to wait in the cold (low 40s) a little longer so the race started 7 minutes late. I lined up in a good spot, ditched my poncho because I didn’t want to try to take it off mid-race or have it create drag and was ready to go. When we started I had a pretty decent start and didn’t trip over anyone or get blocked. Over the first mile I kept looking at my watch to ensure that I didn’t go out too fast. My watch said I hit the first mile in 8:48, but I hit the mile marker at 9:05. My race plan was to run 9 min/mile for the first 3 miles then I would pick up the pace after that, I did exactly that. I felt good with each mile I ran, but was conscious of how many more miles I still had to go. I continued to decrease my average pace closer to my goal of 8:45.
The course was mostly flat, and the slight inclines that gave me trouble last time weren’t as bad this time around. Around mile 6.5 I saw my biggest fans/supporters, my parents, and was feeling great. At this point in the race I stopped trying to look at my watch so much and just run by feel. I planned to negative split the half, and I was on track to do that. At 8.25 miles I continued to feel good and I just had a feeling come over me that I would make my goal 1:55 time (8:45 pace) even though I still had to knock 5 seconds off my average pace. So when the miles felt long around mile 9 and I came on one more hill I reminded myself that it was the last hill to conquer. I did a lot of self-talk throughout race ‘you got this’, ‘go for it otherwise you will regret it’, ‘just keep up with this pace’. Mile 10 to 11 was my fastest mile at 8:24, but then the last 2 miles were into the wind and I started to struggle. It didn’t help that around mile 11.5 my headphones started acting up and I ran without music because I really needed to just focus on putting one foot in front of the other instead of trying to fix them.
My legs were starting to feel it a little, and with the wind in my face, I needed a distraction so I started counting to 100 repeatedly until I made it to the 13 mile mark, saw my parents again and the downhill finish line was in sight. I didn’t think I had anything left in my legs, but I finished strong, and crossed the finish line in 1:55:22. Phew… I DID IT! Despite the wind and rain, I accomplished a personal best by 3 1/2 minutes, I was whipped!!
Once I got my hard-earned medal,I walked to the post-race tent to get some food, but wasn’t up for eating much right away. After I walked back to my car with my parents to get warm clothes, we went to cheer on the start of the 5K race which followed the half marathon, I like to stick around the race area for a little while to cheer on the other runners. But once I saw the 5K finisher 15 minutes later, I was freezing and was ready to go home… where I spent the rest of the day napping or relaxing on the couch because I couldn’t move! I am sooo glad I took tomorrow off from work! But it made me wonder how I will feel when I finish my first MARATHON in 4 1/2 months. Stay tuned for my training recaps on that, and thanks for reading!
Did you race this weekend? What was your toughest race condition?