I had plans to go to bed early on Friday. I had everything ready for the morning, brushed my teeth and crawled in to bed at 9:02pm. Of course then my brain would not shut off. Why is it that most nights I can barely keep my eyes open after 8pm, but when I actually NEED to go to sleep I'm all hyped up? Rude life, rude. I begged Elsie to sleep really good for me. She didn't listen of course. She was up at 12:30am. The good news is after that she slept until I woke her at 5:15am so I could feed her before I left. So in reality, it is much better than her waking up at 2:30 or 3 or something. I was able to get a solid chunk of sleep. But I was still tired.
Christopher was working in the medical tent and had to be there at 6am. We left at 5:30am. It was a whopping 32 degrees outside. Say WHAT? Definitely the coldest it has been for this race when I've done it. On the way downtown I ate a granola bar. When we got there I used the porta potty (blech) and by that point it was only 6:15am or so? I had a little while to go to the 7am start. I just kind of walked around and tried to stay warm. With about ten minutes to go I ate a few honey stingers and decided to worm my way in to the middle of a pace group. And that is when I made the stupidest decision of the day. I opted to situate myself with the two hour pacer.
You guys, I hadn't run a two hour pace during any of my training. Why oh why did I think I could do it today? Stupid, just plain freaking stupid. The girl was nice and seemed really peppy. The people lined up around me were also chatty and nice. It was great since I was there alone. I chatted with a girl who was running her first half and assured her she'd be just fine. When we started the pace felt great. A nice warm up pace, the pacer was incredibly encouraging, etc. Talked a little bit with the people around me, and just enjoyed listening to everyone converse to keep my mind off the miles. As soon as we hit the first hill though, I knew I was in trouble.
terrible picture of me, but whatever. i'm blaming it on the fact that I had run 13 miles.
The first hill of this half is a bitch. There is no other way to put it. Starts out relatively steep, and just keeps going up. The pacer said we'd take a relaxed pace, and I could tell that she was definitely relaxed, but I was struggling. But I'm stubborn. So I kept pushing. Eventually we made it to the top, and in previous years at that point I was able to really let loose for a few miles. But I was already spent. The two hour pacer got in front of me, but I was able to keep her in my sights until halfway through the fifth mile. But after the aid station at the sixth mile I just couldn't hang, and she was gone. Suddenly the runners around me were much more sparse and not as chatty. I wanted to give up. Nobody gives up on the downhill though, right? A little before mile 8 I stopped to walk. As much as it killed me I was physically and mentally done already. I popped a few more honey stingers. Walked a bit more, drank some water at the aid station, and tried to keep running. Of course that is when the next set of hills starts.
I walked a lot on and off between miles 8-10. I wanted to give up so badly, just stop at an aid station and get someone to take me home. Wouldn't you know it my phone died. And my bestie told me she'd meet me at the finish line. I couldn't flake out on her. Shortly before the 10th mile I think, there was a woman cheering people on, and she shouted out, "Keep going! You're doing great! Trust the training!" And in that moment, I knew I was going to finish. She was right, I had to trust my training. My training was never great, I was never super fast, and I often stopped to walk. So why was I thinking I could speed through 13 miles without a break? Just because I've done better before, doesn't mean I could do it today. And that is ok.
I was still tired and feeling a little defeated as more and more runners passed me. But I was going to finish. At the 12th mile the 2:05 pacer came up on my tail. With only a mile to go I figured if I could stay with them I would come in pretty close to 2:05. Let me tell you, staying with them was HARD. My lungs were bursting as I rounded the corner to the finish line. There was a heavy breathing spitting man to my right, and I convinced myself to push just a little bit harder to get away from him. I was so close. SO CLOSE. And then I saw Meg. It didn't necessarily give me a burst of energy, but I was happy. Exhausted and in pain, but happy as I crossed that finish line. With a time of 2:06:32.
Because I didn't give up. I may not be the fastest runner. Or even running my best. But I did it. I have run four half marathons now. Each one of them an amazing accomplishment in their own right. Had I started with the 2:05 pacer I might have had a slightly easier race and been able to stay with the pace group. I'll never know. But bam. First post baby half, over. Check.
Don't be stupid. Don't freak out. Trust your training.
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