2018 Germantown Half Marathon

2018 Germantown Half Marathon

As many of you know, my first experience at the Germantown Half Marathon (recap) was really fun until about 10.3 miles into the race when I tore one of the high hamstring tendons on my left side...ouch. At the end of that race, I had absolutely no idea how much work would be required in order to return and run strong; nevertheless, I immediately began planning the path back to Germantown and, while there have been multiple stumbles and setbacks (more on my injured year next week!), I felt ready to test my fitness and regain some confidence. 

My left high hamstring and glute area were cranky all week; I saw my PT on Wednesday afternoon, for dry needling and soft tissue work. While I felt some improvement after, I was still anxious about some tightness on my injured side while running and a few aches outside of activity. I don't think I imagined these sensations but I do attribute much of my reaction to mental factors, like returning to the race that triggered the injury and having preconceived expectations of how I should be feeling during race week. 

  Cat, Katie, Cecilia and me! 

Cat, Katie, Cecilia and me! 

After losing an hour of much needed sleep to Daylight Saving Time, Cecilia and I had our coffee, Picky Oats for me and a Picky Bar for her, and headed to the Germantown Athletic Complex where the race start/finish is located. As always, Cecilia did a great job of keeping me pumped up and encouraged for the race; we were both nervous about getting out there, but I think we did a good job of managing pre-race jitters. 

The early weather forecast had been all over the place but, thankfully, settled into a great morning; race start temperature was 52F, with little to no wind, and very high (95%) humidity. I could've done without the humidity, but at 52F it doesn't affect me very much. We were so thankful the wind held off until later in the day! 

  Liz, Cecilia, Jana and me! 

Liz, Cecilia, Jana and me! 

As I mentioned in my race goals post, there is a lengthy incline in the first 5K of the race; it begins at about 1.3 miles and continues through about 2.4. Until that climb arrives, it's tough to reign in the pace; I started off a little more aggressively than I probably should have, but I was prepared (I thought!) to face the consequences. 
Miles 1-4: 8:41, 8:37, 8:36, 8:29

The next section of the race is a relatively flat, long stretch; it's pretty boring, to be honest, and I was trying to stay motivated and not focus too much on pace. My running coach gave me some great advice - focus on form and cadence and the pace will fall in line - and I kept running that through my mind instead of glancing at my watch every two seconds. 
Miles 5-8: 8:30, 8:33, 8:40, 8:39

  Cecilia powering her way through to a HUGE new PR! 

Cecilia powering her way through to a HUGE new PR! 

And then those "rolling hills" return and it's time to dig in! I'm so thankful for the friends who sent me encouraging pre-race messages that, unbeknownst to them, became mini-mantras for the times when my brain got too noisy, telling me "this is too hard," and "you're going to have to slow down, you can't hold this pace." I let it get the best of me at about the 10.5 mile mark (in hindsight, this coincides with the moment I experienced that hamstring pop last year) and I stopped at an aid station to refill my water bottle and regroup. It cost me some time, but I think it was necessary. 
Miles 9-12: 8:38, 9:04, 8:38, 8:43

Y'all that last mile felt like death; I will never wonder if I had anything left to give at the end of this race! Had it not been for the water stop, this would have been my slowest mile; most of it is uphill (SO CRUEL!) and there were a couple of moments when I feared my legs might just crumple up underneath my body and I would fall flat on my face. Instead, I finished in 1:54:22 - one minute, eleven seconds off my personal best half marathon. 

Even though I went against my coach's plan and started out a little more aggressively than normal, I wouldn't change a single thing about my performance; I never had any trouble from my injured side and even now, a few days later, it's feeling no worse than the rest of my body. I needed this experience to force myself into uncomfortable territory, to challenge both my physical and mental strength, and remember that I can do hard things! 

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I'm so glad that I was able to do this in the company of such great friends and teammates; I'm looking forward to another fun-filled race next month, in Seattle, at The Tenacious Ten 10K

  Katie and Emmerson, Rosie and Millie, Cecilia, me, Jana, Liz, Becca and Hamp! 

Katie and Emmerson, Rosie and Millie, Cecilia, me, Jana, Liz, Becca and Hamp! 

Laura & Emma by Kate Greathead

Laura & Emma by Kate Greathead

The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian