Half Marathon #18
South Carolina Half Marathon #14
Greer Earth Day Half Marathon #3
Today was the perfect day to experience running as a community.
Let me back up a bit. I’m a solo runner. I don’t see that changing, although after today I’m tempted. With the exception of races, I can count on one hand the number of runs I’ve completed with another person.
I started this race solo, first time in a while.
I wasn’t sure what my legs would be capable of coming off some pretty fast runs this week. (This was supposed to be a cut back week but then Boston. Things change.) Yesterday, I could feel all the hard, fast miles I had put them through and wondered if my desire to go out and crush the course today was a tad optimistic.
I kept 8 minutes as my goal. Specifically, I wanted to keep my pace from dropping below 8 minutes as much as possible, though I knew it would probably happen on this course.
The weather could not have been more perfect. After two years of awful heat, today was simply marvelous and a key contributor to my ability to maintain a much faster pace than previously.
As we made our way through the abundant turns (newsflash: I’m horrible at running tangents) I spotted a girl ahead that seemed to be running about the pace I wanted. I nicknamed her “orange beanie girl.” (Results have not been posted yet so I don’t know what her real name is.)
For miles 1-5ish, I kept her in my sights or ran right beside her. I focused on this rather than how my legs or anything else felt. I felt strong and ran some of my fastest miles here. (My overall pace didn’t vary much which is definitely a good sign.)
Just before mile six another woman joined the party. She wore a 2012 Boston Marathon shirt. I knew I had to follow her. (Once again, I apologize for not being able to include names!) I passed “orange beanie girl” and ended up running miles 6-10ish either right behind or right alongside “Boston” girl.
Once again, having her there helped distract me from the growing protest coming from my legs. I knew things were going to get ugly towards the end but I kept hoping to maintain.
Around mile 10, either I sped up (doubtful) or she slowed down because I started to pull ahead of her. I didn’t want to. I needed that mental boost yet I couldn’t justify hanging back because I still felt like I could handle it.
That’s when the wheels fell off. I no longer had the mental distraction, especially when I passed the only other runner close to me at the time. There was no one who I could pace myself off. It was all me.
Things really hurt. It was bad. I even passed up the last water stop because I wasn’t sure I could start running again if I started walking.
Then came one of the final hills. I’m not sure what the name of the street is but I hate it. My legs would not cooperate. I tried to keep running but picking my foot up felt so hard. I walked. I grabbed a single chomp and started chewing it. I would make it but I just couldn’t run that hill.
Then came my saving grace. Someone (again, I wish I knew his name!) came alongside me and started calling out encouragement. He told me that I had been beating him all day and I couldn’t give up now. It’s amazing what that kind of support can do.
Things still hurt. It was still really, really hard.
We came up that final hill and started to make that final turn and he said “Let’s do this!” and started sprinting. What else could I do but sprint alongside him and finish first?
He said I looked good. I may have looked good but every muscle in my leg was screaming as I entered that finish shoot.
I ran this race one last time for redemption. I wanted that sub 2 hours (on this course) that I knew I was capable of. Mission accomplished.
Three half marathons this year, all at either 7:58 or 8:00 pace. I think I’ve found my new sweet spot. Although, it boggles my mind that to BQ, I’d have to hold that pace (8:12 to be exact) for double the distance. While I can’t do it yet, I’m well on my way.
Since this post is wordy enough, I’ll save my review of the race for a later post.
Two months until San Francisco. Bring. It. On.