As my blog readers are aware, I ventured to Wrightsville Beach this weekend for my first “a-race” of the season. Though it was “only” a half marathon, I had a lofty goal (for me) shooting for a ~4 minute PR (over 1:37:30 at Corporate Cup in 2011).
The race wasn’t until Sunday morning so I decided to stay in Charlotte Friday night to do some catching up on life. I got a ton done and felt so ready to head to the beach Saturday. I woke up early and spent some Q.T. with my pups before hitting the road just before 9am. It was an absolute gorgeous day for a road trip and the weather was really motivating me to run hard. You also know you’ve tapered properly when you’re jumping out of your skin to race!
I can’t tell you the last time I’ve traveled to a race alone. Though I had 3 clients meeting me down here, it was odd to be alone for packet pickup, getting settled in the condo, etc. It was so nice of my friend Win and his family to let me use his condo for the 4th time now! The condo is huge, beautiful, right on the water, and fully equipped with anything you’d need for a weekend. Though I missed my usual support crowd, it was relaxing to be alone. I read for a while on the patio listening to the waves and took a 2 hour nap later than afternoon – clearly I was more tired than I thought.
My clients all came over for dinner on Saturday night as we prepped for the race. I made a huge (I mean, HUGE) baked ziti on Friday night, and big salad and homemade whole wheat bread. I truly enjoyed the evening with awesome friends. Company left about 8:30 and we were off to bed. Given my 2 hour nap, it took me 40 minutes or so to fall asleep and I was up 2 minutes before my alarm, just the way I like it! I felt great that morning and was ready to run.
The race site is < 2 miles from the condo, so we made our way over and began our warm ups. The weather was absolutely perfect…about 60 degrees and almost “misting” (looking back, it might have actually just been really muggy?) I was so happy to be in shorts and a tank top and not tights, hats, gloves, ear warmers….
The gun went off and I was about 5th row back. I had planned to take the first 2 miles a few seconds below goal pace, then settle in at goal pace around mile 3. Plan executed. My first two miles were 6:56 and 7:05 with goal pace right around 7:15. Mile 3 I was still feeling good and maintained a 7:05 pace before I decided I needed to back it down, for real this time. Miles 4-9 were all flat between 7:14 and 7:18 pace and I was feeling awesome. My HR was extremely high, but that’s nothing normal for me at such pace. I hit the 10k point at 46:05, which was probably a minute faster than I should have been, but I still felt good and thought I’d be able to hang on.
By mile 9, I needed some good water so I walked 5 steps through the aid station to be sure I got down sufficient fluids. I find it very very hard to drink while running and rarely ever even get any fluids in my actual mouth when I attempt. I have many-a-shirts soaked in Gatorade! Despite the walk, mile 9 was just slightly above goal pace around 7:23. Come mile 10 I could feel I was nearing my edge. Mentally I pulled every trick in the book to press forward. Mile 10 ticked off right around 7:29 and I was disappointed that despite the effort, the pace was slower than I expected. Just a few seconds after mile 10, I heard a large group of people running up behind me and I knew instantly what it was…the 3:10 marathon pace group. I stuck with them for a while, but I knew almost instantly I wouldn’t hit my goal when they slowly started taking off. Mile 11 was also just above goal pace as I was able to push with the pace group around, but mile 11 and 12 were both 7:38 and I could feel my goal slipping away. I pushed hard to the finish in the mid 6:30 range, but it wasn’t enough.
I hit the mat at 1:36 and change and I instantly wanted a mulligan! I felt so deflated and disappointed. I wanted sub 1:35 so badly but it just wasn’t my day. I gave it what I had for that day and that was the best I could do. (I will insert than my watch did say 13.28 miles at the finish, for what it’s worth.)
I sat down on the curb after received my medal. I was approached within 5 minutes by 2 women and 1 man congratulating me on a great race and “how strong I looked” and “how they tried so hard to catch you but just couldn’t”. And I’m sitting on the curb sulking. I decided to get my head out of my ass, stop feeling sorry for myself and hold my head high, despite the pit in my stomach. I do not like to “fail”; however, I realize failure is all relative. I finished the race. I PR’d by over 2 minutes in this distance. I finished in the top 1.8% of females in 21st of 1162. I trained hard. I stayed mentally tough when all I wanted to do was walk at mile 12. I achieved a lot, even if I didn’t achieve my goal.
Though I’m disappointed, I leave this race with even more drive. I will run a 1:35 half marathon and I’ll run a sub 1:35 half marathon, its just a matter of time and patience. During a “come to Jesus” chat with my sister, she constantly reminds me that speed work wasn’t even in my vocabulary 14 months ago, which I so quickly and easily forget as I beat myself up. I have always been focused on distance….getting to the finish line of an Ironman. I hadn’t stepped foot on a track until about July of this year. I hadn’t focused on getting faster and lord knows it doesn’t come natural to me. I wasn’t born a runner (or a swimmer obviously)…I have worked hard for every bit of speed I developed. Three years ago, running one mile in 7:18 wasn’t possible for me, nonetheless 13.1. I have to be proud of that. I will continue to keep working hard and I can’t wait to get started again…of course, that will have to wait until after I can walk like a normal human again!
Congrats to Nicole on finishing her first half marathon and Kendra, her 2nd! So proud of you girls….and Jip, just for being fast 🙂