Half Marathon #30
SC Half Marathon #22
Hilton Head Island Half Marathon #6
Out of the six times that I’ve run this race (the only race that I’ve run every year since I started running), this might be my favorite.
Heading into the race I had absolutely no idea what my plan would be for the race. I kept going back and forth between running with Mom and pushing for a faster time. I didn’t make up my mind until the race expo Friday night. My goal would be to run sub 1:50 aka a 8:20 pace. I have to admit that when I looked up that pace I was a little nervous. I wasn’t sure where my fitness was and how that pace would feel for 13 miles. As such, I also gave myself a tier of goals: sub 1:55 and lastly sub 2 since I’ve never run that half with a 2 at the front of the time.
We got to the start with plenty of time. Like last year, I positioned myself towards the front, although not as close as I did last year. Thus, I encountered a little more congestion but not too much. The only truly annoying bit of the race happened here. Everyone’s pretty quiet as we head into the initial out and back. Out of the blue, some obnoxious man (boy) started shouting things like “You all are quiet!” “Thanks for joining my run this morning!”
The pace felt easy but faster than I had planned. I decided to settle in and run by effort. If an 8 or 8:10 pace felt good then I would go with it.
Mile 1: 7:58
Mile 2: 8:00
I felt strong as we came back through the park and headed out onto the Cross Island Parkway.
These miles passed so quickly partly because I actually had a couple conversations with two different complete strangers. One was quick but kind of cool. An older gentleman noticed my music. I now run without headphones and just let the music play from the phone. He told me that when he plays music that’s how he does it and then he thanked me for sharing.
A little while after that I ended up running beside one of the marathoners. I’m not sure what he said when he first started talking to me but one of the questions he asked was “why do you run?” Without hesitation I said, “because I love it!” I kept thinking about that through the rest of the race. I asked him the same question and he said something about “for the adventure” and then we ended up chatting about the Rome Marathon. I may have convinced him (and his wife by default) to run the race.
This conversation showed me that my effort definitely wasn’t at the max of my ability. I started thinking that I might just be able to hold this pace for twice the length in 5 weeks at Tobacco Road.
My pace had dropped just a little when I checked my Garmin so I started to pick up the pace. The marathoner wished me well and that was the last I saw of him.
Mile 3: 8:00
Mile 4: 8:06
Mile 5: 8:09
My tentative plan was to eat my chews at 5 and 10. I keep forgetting that mile 5 happens right before the bridge. Thankfully I was able to finish the chews before the bridge started.
Instead of looking down at my Garmin and getting focused on pace, I chose to focus on effort instead. There was still a lot of race to to go so pushing to hit a certain pace would be counter-productive.
This, obviously, was my slowest mile. That’s bound to happen on the long, slow incline half of the bridge.
Mile 6: 8:09 (just before the bridge)
Mile 7: 8:37 (the bridge)
After coming back down the other side of the bridge, we headed, once again, into the most ridiculous part of the new course, the part that gives a great tour of a parking lot. Thankfully, I was not surprised by the deviation from the old course like I was last year. I didn’t get ticked off either. I kept glancing at the Garmin and thinking that my pace was dropping but it was hard to tell because of all the tree cover. It did drop a bit but not too much.
Mile 8: 8:02 (enjoying the downhill)
Mile 9: 8:11 (parking lot and a tight turn around)
I kept thinking back to the conversation I head earlier in the race. I really do run because I love it. That should apply to this race as well. I told myself to run to enjoy it and I really did.
I started to feel a little fatigue after mile 9 but nothing extraordinary. I kept telling myself to push through the fatigue and then would glance down at my Garmin to see 7:50 or 7:55. It was close enough to the end that I decided to just go with it.
I thought the short and (relatively) steep side of the hill might slow me down a little but mile 10 came and went without much pace change.
*Edited to add*
I almost forgot my favorite part of the race. Right as we got back to the bridge and no longer had any cover, the wind started up. This wasn’t a gentle breeze. This was a wind that challenged you to a fight to the finish. I had the thought “let’s go to battle, wind” and then two seconds later “Fight Song” started playing on my phone. Suffice it to say, I won that battle.
Mile 10: 8:10
I felt really strong through the next mile on the Cross Island Parkway. It was at this point that I passed the last water stop. I have to say that these girls were extremely enthusiastic even if they are certainly not wordsmiths. One of the girls started to shout some words of encouragement. “We are here for you because you are here to motivate yourself!” That sentence got away from her.
I heard a scoff-sound beside me and turned to see the woman who ended up winning grand-masters. I said something “well…she tried at least” and we had a good little laugh.
Mile 11: 8:08
The final mile and a half on the Parkway is torture. It’s straight and you keep looking ahead to find the turn into the park which means the race is almost over. I kept pushing as it started to feel harder and harder. It felt like my pace was dropping but my splits say otherwise.
Mile 12: 8:01
When we finally made the turn into the park I felt so relieved and yet at the same time tried to increase the pace.
*Edited to Add*
Just after this picture, my new favorite running song “Good to be Alive” started playing. Since I play my playlist using the shuffle feature, I love all the happy coincidences that seems to happen during the race. I couldn’t help but sprint to the finish with this song playing.
Mile 13: 7:52
I kept pushing, especially when I saw that I could finish before 1:46:xx.
Final time: 1:45:37
Talk about blowing my goal out of the water. I am thrilled with my time and how comparatively easy it felt.
Mom blew her time out of the water too with a two minute PR and finished strong!
It’s been a while since I have enjoyed a race as much as I did today’s race. It wasn’t a PR but it was one of my fastest, 4th fastest in fact. I had no idea that I had that in me today.
I think I might just try to get closer to 1:40 when I run the GHS half in two weeks.