Paris Mountain Road Race #3 (two times as a half marathon, once as a 20k)
SC Half Marathon #15
Half Marathon #20
I headed to the start on my own this time. (Mom couldn’t come with me this morning.) Up until a couple days ago, I had decided that I wasn’t going to run it. I didn’t think I was in shape to run up the mountain or if it was worth it. It takes a lot for me to waste money, plus I’m a little crazy, so I ended up changing my mind. I headed into the race with my only goal being finishing. Spoiler: I surpassed that goal.
Right at 8:30 we were off but I forgot to start my music so that meant doing it on the run, as captured brilliantly by the Pace Magazine photographer.
Before I was ready we had reached the turn onto Altamont and it was time to head up the mountain.
Let me be perfectly clear. I hate hills. Why, then, did I register for this race? Because I’m a little bit crazy and because I can’t back away from a challenge. There’s something so fulfilling about conquering that mountain.
Last year I was thrilled to make it to the summit without walking. This year? I walked. Instead of pushing through and expending way too much effort I walked at miles 2.5, 3 and 3.5 (aka the summit and a water stop). All thoughts of a course PR went out of my head.
Also on the climb, I entertained thoughts about turning around and heading back to the start. After all, I had been ready to DNS. How different is a DNF? That’s a sign of just how much I hate hills.
Instead I sucked it up, told myself I was in for the long haul and pressed on.
After the summit, I settled into a comfortable pace and avoided looking at the time or pace on my Garmin. (That seems to be a productive technique. I should probably keep doing that.)
Around mile 5 I noticed a woman running with her dog. While I question her sanity, she had control of her well-trained dog. The problem? Another dog came barreling down from a nearby house onto the road. I nearly had a heart attack. I’m not much of a dog person, especially when that strange dog is not on a leash. This dumb dog kept dashing back and forth to the woman with the other dog as if she was playing with him. Then he came around my right and took a sharp left directly in front of me. I nearly face-planted over the dog. Not cool.
Thankfully the owner corralled his dog soon after that.
The middle few miles were fairly nondescript. I felt great on the downhills and flat portions but hated life on the uphills, as usual. Despite those hills, I love the course. It’s beautiful and somehow, even though I’ve run this race only twice before, it felt like I knew this course like the back of my hand.
As we got close to the Furman campus I hazarded a glance at my Garmin, 1:59:59. Oh well, not faster than last year. (Or so I thought.) No problem. I kept pushing forward passing about 6 guys as I did. Chicked!
I started pouring on what speed I had left as I rounded the roundabout. Just before I tried to cross the traffic I noticed a big tour bus approaching. I assumed that the traffic guard would stop the bus. I kept moving forward cautiously but the guard motioned for the bus to keep coming. Seriously? I had to stop and back up to come around the back of the bus which had stopped blocking the road we were all trying to turn onto.
Best part of that? The guy behind me quipped, “at least it wasn’t a train!” No kidding!
Then I was free to sprint to the finish.
Dad was able to make it to see me finish. Unfortunately, his camera was on video not camera.
I was happy with that time even though I thought it was a minute slower than last year. I didn’t realize that I had snagged a course PR until tonight when I looked at last year’s Garmin pic. Turns out, I raced this year better somehow. Maybe this no pressure thing has its upsides.
Walk breaks actually helped me get up the mountain faster!
Then only thing that would have made this race better (since they added finisher medals!) would be more water stops and actual gatorade at those stops rather than weird-tasting water.
Maybe 2014 will be the year I make it to the finish line in under 2 hours. 🙂