As I've mentioned (way too often), I've been lusting after a sub-2:00 half marathon for about three years now--since I started running. Ever since I finished the Detroit Free Press Marathon in October, I've been concentrating on getting faster. I've been working my ass off to run a half marathon in a time that starts with a 1.
Today was the big day I've been training for! I had been running at an 8:45-ish pace for my long runs, so I was VERY confident that I would reach my goal today. It wasn't a question of whether I would PR, but rather by how much I would PR.
And then a couple of days ago, all the talk started about the weather, and how we were expected to get freezing rain, some snow, and super high winds on race day. Also, part of the course was flooded. This totally burst my bubble, and I was really worried that maybe I wouldn't meet my goal after all.
Last night, Jessica and I rode with one of her friends to the expo, where we picked up our packets. And you can't go to Dearborn, Michigan without eating Middle Eastern food, so we carb-loaded on rice and pita bread at La Pita. I got my usual chicken kabob, of which you've seen the picture a dozen or so times.
Last night, I had a hard time sleeping--which almost always happens the day before a race. I got up with Jerry this morning at 4:30, even though I didn't have to leave until almost 7:00. I ate a big bowl of oatmeal with strawberries and chocolate chips (a great combo, by the way!):
I drank a whole quart of water and two cups of tea. I dressed in my muscle tights and two long-sleeved black tech shirts, hoping it would be warm enough.
I drove to Kroger, where I was meeting Jessica, and her friend drove us to the race. The weather was nothing like I was expecting, which was a good thing! It was cold, but I was fine with cold; I just don't like freezing rain AND cold AND wind. The race directors handled the weather issue REALLY well--they rerouted the half and full marathon to avoid the flooding. I'm sure that was a huge pain for them to do, but everything went off without a hitch.
|The new course|
As soon as you cross the starting line of this race, it goes up hill--which actually didn't bother me, because at the beginning of the race, I was just wanting to MOVE and get warm. It was super crowded at first, and I had to weave around people for a while, but I finally settled into a semi-comfortable pace.
The first few miles, I recognized the course from the 10K that I've done two years in a row. The half-marathon course is usually an out-and-back course (which you know I love), but since they rerouted it to avoid the flooding, I had no idea what to expect. It was kind of fun, the not-knowing.
I got a LOT of comments on my muscle tights. It was so fun! They were a great conversation-starter with other runners. I kept hearing "Nice legs!" "Check out those glutes!" and "Great muscles!" They were a good choice to wear, because they kept me distracted from the fact that I was running, and because when I would hear a comment, it usually made me run faster ;)
Mile seven really hit me hard, and I felt very tired. I decided to eat a Shot Blok (I brought two of them along with me in the pouch of my handheld water bottle). They were really stale and stuck together (I never use fuel when running, so when I say stale, I mean so old I probably shouldn't have been eating them). It took me probably a half a mile to get the whole thing swallowed, and I was even more tired from all the effort. But by mile 8 or so, I was feeling better.
At around mile 10, I was ready for another Shot Blok. I was fumbling with it, and then I dropped it on the ground. Without hesitation, I picked it up, squirted a little water on it, and popped it in my mouth. It was all I had! After that, I started to think of all the shoes that were running on that ground after using porta potties. I was grossing myself out, so I tried to think of something (anything) else, while trying to chew the stale Shot Blok for nearly a mile.
At one point (mile 11 maybe?) we had to cross a bridge that freaks me out every time--it's part of the 10K course, so I've had to run over it before. It bounces up and down from all the runners being on it at once, and it feels like trying to jump on a trampoline with a dozen other people. Very strange to run on! (Runners who don't know about the bridge always gasp, or say, "What the?!" while crossing--it's kind of funny).
The course was pretty hilly (especially for someone like me, who doesn't have a single hill to train on!), but whenever I came to a hill, I made it a mission to run FASTER. I charged up the hills, and then sped through the downhills. Shortly after that weird bridge, I turned a corner and it was a very steep hill in front of me.
The bridge had worn me out a little, and then I charged up the hill, and when I got to the top, I felt the weirdest sensation--almost like I was going to faint. My feet felt like I was still on the bridge, and I got dizzy. My pace slowed to 8:50 ish, and I focused on one girl that had been pacing me the whole way, pretty much. I just tried to focus on keeping up with her, but she was slowing, too. I eventually passed her at around mile 12, where there was a big old hill.
I was SO relieved when I saw that I had just a mile to go. I tried to pick up the pace again, but I was really ready to be done. The wind was picking up, and it had been drizzling freezing ran on and off for a few miles. The last quarter mile or so was downhill, which was nice.
The last tenth of a mile was actually pretty fun, because there were a lot of spectators, and lots of people were yelling comments to me about my muscle tights. I had a big old smile on my face through the whole finisher's chute and when I crossed the finish line.
I had done much better than I even anticipated--I expected to finish in about 1:55 if all went well today. I stopped my Garmin... 1:52!
My official results:
Anyway, I am THRILLED with my new half-marathon PR! Now, I feel like I can truly just run for fun, without trying to hit a certain pace. I've reached my major running goals, and it will be nice to just run by how I feel, and not worry if I am slowing down.
(By the way, thanks so much for the offers to pick up my packet, etc., if I should do Indy--but since I reached my goal today, Indy isn't an option anymore. Probably for the best, because I don't think I could have worked it out anyway! But I do have a registration that can be transferred until the 19th. I was going to try and sell it, but if one of my readers would like it, I'd be happy to give it away. The only condition is that you actually use it! ;) Just send me an e-mail if you're interested in it.)