2018 Peace Love Goodwill Half Marathon
When I added the Peace Love Goodwill Half Marathon to my 2018 race schedule, it was cold outside...really cold. This race always feels like the last hurrah, an excuse to continue doing long runs while also anticipating the shorter races of summer; however, summer decided to show up early this year with no chance to welcome it properly.
Thanks to a torn hamstring tendon, I wasn't able to participate in this event last year; I had a positive experience in 2016 (recap), but it was 55F degrees at the start and I still felt pretty warm by the end. The race is organized by a great group of folks, the start line is just a few minutes from my home, the course is very familiar, and it always feels like going on a long run with neighborhood friends. A 5K and 10K are also offered, making this a very family friendly occasion, and the support along the course is always wonderful.
The forecast for race day did not look promising; our local meteorologists had been predicting a "heat wave" for the end of the week and, wouldn't you know it, their prediction held. The temperature at the start would be near 68F with a dew point of 67F and humidity of 96%; that's a tough combination, especially with no heat acclimatization. I knew I would have to play it safe and my coach encouraged to me run at least the first half in such a way that the effort felt too slow; I rarely think too slow is a challenge.
Unfortunately, after two back-to-back 10K PRs (50:07 at the Capital City Classic and 49:30 at Tenacious Ten) in April, in much cooler weather conditions, it was tough not to start out at a race-like pace; in fact, there was a slight breeze and some cloud cover and it felt like an easy effort for about 35-40 minutes. I completed miles 1-5, including a round trip over the Big Dam Bridge, in 8:56, 9:04, 9:01, 9:06 and 9:17.
Just after the five mile mark, as if someone flipped a switch, the sun broke through completely and the breeze disappeared; my heart began to pound, the sweat was pouring into my eyes and my face felt like it was on fire. I immediately recognized that I'd made a huge mistake and knew that I would need to slow down in order to finish the race. I didn't feel disappointed, rather I caught myself laughing at my overconfident blunder; the first long runs of the hot season are always a crap shoot, and require frequent adjustments in both expectations and pacing, mine just happened to be during a race. I ran miles 6-8 in 9:21, 9:22, and 9:32.
Mile nine was the worst yet; running through an open area known locally as the tree farm, through Two Rivers Park, with no shade (the trees are just babies!), I told myself that if I could make it around the loop and back to the restroom area I could take a break. I'm pretty sure that's the only thing that kept me going! I did need to use the restroom and, since I already knew that my race time would not be exciting, I decided to make a pit stop, pour some cold water over my head, eat an orange slice, and thank the volunteers who were helping us. Whew! It was tough to get going again, after that stop, but I knew I only had four miles to the finish and there's no other way to get back; miles 9-10 came in at 11:31 (thanks to the stop) and 9:51.
During mile 11, I was stopped by a few folks on the trail to avoid a snake so, since I was in no hurry, I chatted with them and took a picture; I'm sure there will be plenty more sightings (I've already seen two on my bike) but, again, it does seem a little early in the season for these creepy crawlies and I am not excited to welcome them back.
I managed to run mile twelve without stopping, but walked a little bit just before the final mile began; miles 11-13 were completed in 11:11 (snake chat!), 9:42, and 10:29. I was so ready to be done.
With a finish time of 2:08:45, I somehow managed to secure a second place age group win; my neighborhood running friend Ashley, with whom I ran some around the park, finished just ahead of me and we commiserated about the morning heat. I am NOT ready for this, y'all.
Thankfully, this will be my last long effort until the fall (with the exception of a trail 25K in July, which is run in the dark and somehow that makes it seem less horrible - ha!); I am super excited about my summer races, and a couple of new-to-me adventures, but I guess I'd better get ready to run in the heat. I think it's here to stay!
No matter what the forecast portends, I will always try to participate in one of the Peace Love Goodwill events; the organizers do such a great job and I love supporting this organization.