2016 CASA Half Marathon
For those of you who prefer the short version, here it is: with a finish time of 1:53:11, I succeeded in besting my previous half marathon PR of 1:56:23 (set in October 2008), accomplishing my A goal (here's my race goals post, in case you're interested), and earning second place in my age group in my last race of 2016. If you'd like a little more detail, keep reading!
I've decided that my coach uses the same weather forecasting service that determines Santa's location every year, since several days out he gives me what he predicts will be the temperature at the start of my race and it's always spot on. What I can tell you with absolute certainly is that it was cold on Saturday morning, especially to those of us who've not experienced these temperatures in many months. It was 27F when I woke up, 30F at the start and, for those of you who do not already know, there is nothing I love more than racing on a cold, clear morning. It was beautiful.
My race plan was to start out conservatively, at about an 8:50 - 9:00 pace for the first couple of miles, working into an 8:40-8:50 pace for the bulk of the race; however, I knew (and I know my coach knew, too) that I could do better than this. After giving up on myself at Midsouth on November 5, I was ready to do more. I'd read Kate Grace's "Do Not Open Until Race Day" letter in the car and I was ready to "dance at my party."
Not long after the race started, I found myself close to a gal (I have no idea who she is) who was maintaining a steady 8:40 pace; I thought, "wow, this is great! If I can hang with her I won't have to expend so much energy focusing on my pace and I can enjoy the challenge." Well, that only lasted a couple of miles, at most; she slowed down and I was on my own again.
No problem! I was feeling great, the weather was delightful, my carefully crafted playlist had me mouthing the words to fun songs and I was cruising. I rarely run with music, since it's so dark out when I train, unless I'm at the track doing a tough workout and I might treat myself; I save music for the hard days and races, so that it adds more oomph.
And then, not long after the turnaround when we're all high-fiving and heavy breathing, my headphones die. In hindsight, I should either have taken the time to get my JaybirdSport Freedom headphones ready to go (I forgot that I changed the earpieces and I didn't change them back the night before the race) or put a spare pair in my vest; nevertheless, I chose a pair that I've never had any trouble with before and they let me down.
As you can see, I took a little hit during that mile, both in pace and mental status; I was very disappointed, nervous about how I would stay motivated and occupied during the toughest miles, and I had to have a little "chat" with myself. I distinctly remember thinking, "okay, so you can use this as an excuse to give up, or you can woman up and get this done. This is the time to do it."
I was getting close to the nine mile mark, so I decided to do something I've done before (even with music) and dedicate the upcoming miles to certain people, using the entire mile to think about, and pull motivation from, these individuals.
Here's a breakdown: mile 9 for my friend Cathy - we've been on a half marathon mission together this year and we're finally going to run one together at the end of January (yay!); mile 10 for my friend Lynn who is recovering from an injury that has kept her sidelined for several weeks; mile 11 for my BB (badass bestie) Kelly because, well...she's just the bee's knees; mile 12 was spent gritting and grinding and getting to the finish line. I remember thinking "don't get to the end and wonder if you could've done more; this is the time to put down everything you have left."
And then it was done! I was so happy to cross the finish line, and thankful that there was a construction barrel on the other side, holding up part of the finish line inflatable, that I could collapse onto after I made it across. Whew! That was tough. I knew, after my experience at Midsouth, that it was going to be hard; I didn't know how hard, but I'm glad I had that miserable day so that I could be ready for it.
I'm taking this week to recover from this training cycle and enjoy a little more relaxation; I've been exploring The Recovery Collection, new from Jasyoga, staying up a little later, and sleeping in. On Saturday, I have the distinct privilege and honor of running the last seven miles (ish) of the Jacob Wells 3 Bridges Marathon with my friend Chris; he completed his first Ironman this year and he's aiming to PR again. He's gotten me through a lot of tough miles and I'm looking forward to sharing the absolute worst part of this race course with him; the weather looks horrendous, but we're going to get it done.
Thanks so much to those of you who have encouraged, motivated and cheered me on through training this year; I can promise that I thought about you, too, while I was on that course last weekend. I'm excited to see what 2017 has in store for so many of us, as we continue along the journey to set and achieve new goals!