2016 Peace Love Goodwill Half Marathon
I plan everything. The amount of time I spent planning my grocery list yesterday is borderline embarrassing; why can't I just leave and go to the grocery store? The idea of running a race "at the last minute" is laughable, yet that's just what I did on Saturday.
While sitting on the sofa late Friday night, contemplating whether to watch another episode of Scandal, Jonathan mentioned that he'd received a message from his friend Chris about the race he and his family would be running the next day; "which one is that?" I asked. "That Goodwill half, out on the River Trail," he said.
For some reason, I immediately wondered whether it could be the race, the race that might get me out of my RussVegas doldrums (recap here). Even though I knew I'd done the best I could, on that day, Saturday, April 23, I also knew I had a better race inside me and I wanted to run it.
The Peace Love Goodwill events (5K/10K/Half) are relatively small; they are run on the Arkansas River Trail which, due its nature, does not close for any event and races must be capped in order to facilitate good management and limit congestion. The race is put on by, and benefits, Goodwill Industries of Arkansas and I found the registration information on their website; the 5K and 10K were already sold out, but they listed available race day registration for the half. As of Friday afternoon, there were less than 20 bibs available.
Thanks to a harrowing experience on Friday morning, during which I was forced to slam on my brakes and swerve hard to miss a wreck on the interstate, I'd rubbed a flat spot on one of my tires; Jonathan and I had planned to drop my car off, first thing Saturday morning, to have some new tires installed. His vehicle was already in the shop, waiting on a part to arrive, so we were a little short on transportation; he joked that he could ride me down to Murray Park, the area of the starting line for the race, on his bicycle. He also mentioned that he thought I should go for it; he was thinking the same thing I was as he told me about the race. What an enabler.
We decided, at about 9:30pm, that we'd take my car, on its little donut, down to the park, I'd run the race, and then we'd worry about the tires. I hastily began to gather my things and it was a comedy of errors: I couldn't find my earbuds; the shorts I wanted to wear were dirty; I'd run out of my regular gels (Honey Stinger); in short, I was completely unprepared. I also didn't have time to worry about any of it, which ended up being perfect. I went to bed.
I got up just after 5 am on Saturday morning, had some coffee and read my daily meditation, pooped (one thing that did go to plan), and started feeling a little nervous; I emailed my coach, just to give him a heads up that, hey, I'd decided to race today! He'd built a great plan for me to use during RussVegas, so I was confident that I knew what to do.
We left home at about 6:10 am (the park is only about 10 minutes away), got parked, registered, bib and timing chip thingies (I'd never used these before, have you?) attached, did some pre-race warming up, chatted with a few friends and then it was time to start.
This course is so familiar to me that it felt like a training run with friends; I had to remind myself that I was actually running a race. I took off, but not quite as fast as I'd taken off at RussVegas; I knew that the temperature was going to warm up, very quickly, just like it did two weeks ago, and I wanted to be conservative. I ran the first mile in 9:07.
After that, I was feeling good and ready to go; I told myself that I just needed to get to mile 10. My Oiselle teammate Rebecca once told me that one of the most valuable lessons she's learned is to "run the mile you're in," and that's what I wanted to do. I wanted to run each mile between 8:50-9:00 and not worry about the rest; I knew that we would cross two bridges, twice, and they are each challenging, but I've run them so many times that I know how they should feel at different paces.
The early miles came pretty easy; miles 2-8 were completed in 8:45, 8:56, 8:55, 9:06 (not sure what happened there), 8:55, 8:52 and 8:58. Just like during RussVegas, I began to feel the challenge around mile 9; the sun was blazing, the temperature had warmed up significantly, I could feel the salt on my skin and I was getting tired. I knew that I had to make a mental decision to either stick with it or give in; I never felt sick, like I did during RussVegas, so I knew I could do it if I really wanted it. I ran mile 9 in 8:58.
By the time I got to mile 10, I knew I had it. I'm not great at math, but I know 3.1 miles and I knew that, even if I ran 10 minute miles for the last 5K I could finish just shy of two hours; that realization gave me the motivation to keep moving, but I definitely gave in to the heat a little bit. I ran miles 10-12 in 9:05, 9:13 and 9:30, respectively.
When my Garmin beeped and I knew I had just over a mile to go, I put everything I had left onto the trail; I finished the last 1.1 miles in just over 9 minutes for an official finish time of 1:57:37; I could hardly believe it. As I mentioned previously, it was a small race; nevertheless, I was able to secure the fifth spot in the overall female master's division.
I could hear Jonathan yelling all the way down the stretch (someone, who shall remain nameless, actually entrusted him with a bullhorn) and I wanted to see him after I finished but I couldn't move; I walked just past the finish line and sat down in the shade with a bottle of water. It felt so hot.
Jonathan and our friend Chris walked over to me; they asked what time my Garmin reported and responded, "oh, you definitely have it." Chris set a new PR, finishing in 1:50, and he was awaiting the arrival of his wife Anita and daughter, Hannah, who would complete her very first half marathon. What a great day.
And, then, that was it. On to get new tires, go to my previously scheduled hair appointment (on foot, I might add, since it's only a mile from my home and I had no car; talk about active recovery!), and then to enjoy a celebratory meal of delicious, local pizza and beer. Maybe I should spontaneously race every weekend?
Well, it won't happen this weekend because I'd already planned to race; I'll be running the Rock Run 8K, along the same course, on Saturday. This will be my second time to run this one, so no more built in PR, but with a finish time last year of 43:33, I think I can earn another one.
The Peace Love Goodwill Half was fantastic, goal time not withstanding; the organizers were super, there were tons of volunteers, cheerleaders, and aid stations along the course (as well as porta-potties, which is nice to see) and they had lots of nice snacks and treats for us at the finish line. I'll definitely consider running this one again, and I would highly recommend it. Congrats to all of the finishers and thank you to those who gave up their Saturday morning to cheer us on!