I can hardly believe what happened today. I didn’t sleep well the past two nights. I was on vacation for the last week. Although I still went out for runs, I was eating differently, sleeping in a strange bed and overall just not in my normal routine. I usually have a big pasta dinner the night before a race. I did have pasta, but it wasn’t huge and I didn’t have a salad or dessert with it. I drove myself to the race and I didn’t get my bib until 6 minutes before the start time. I was flustered when I walked into the corral area – especially when I saw there was a 2:15 pacer and 2:30 pacer but nothing in between. Compared to my usual pre-race rituals, nothing looked typical today.
The weather was ideal – low 50s, very little wind and most of the route was in the shade. The route itself was great – very flat, nice scenery and a decent amount of water stops. It wasn’t too crowded but I also never felt alone while running.
As I started I kept looking down at my watch to make sure I didn’t start out too fast. That always gets me – I start out fast and then lose steam toward the end of the race. However, I felt really good. If I saw I was under a 10 minute pace I would slow down a little, and if I got over a 10:35 pace I would speed up. I never felt terribly winded. I felt strong throughout the race. As I saw the mile markers go up and my pace remain steady, I began to think that PR, a big PR, might be possible. I didn’t stay with the 2:15 pace group, but they were always in sight.
When I got to mile 10 I knew something big was going to happen. I just had to maintain my current speed and I’d break my fastest time. When I turned the corner and saw the finish line, I took out my earbuds because I wanted to hear the encouragement as I ran harder and harder. I was surprised when I glanced over and saw Brad and Steve along the side. I wasn’t expecting them to be there! I think I yelled something like, “I’m killing it!”
When I crossed the finish line I was in shock. So much so that the military personnel placing the medal around my neck asked if I needed a hug. I nodded and he gave me a huge hug! I then saw my friend Laura who was looking at me with a huge smile – I think I responded with “Holy shit!”
My last half marathon was in June, just before I left for Spain. That race was in the rain and I managed to get a PR (personal record) of 2 hours and 21 minutes. That was 4 minutes faster than my previous PR. Today, just three months later, I crossed the line at 2:15 – 6 minutes faster! I’m in awe of my pace and overall time.
So, what changed?
First, I wore one of my Camino shirts – I’m fairly certain after wearing that to walk 135 miles across Spain, it now has super powers.
Second, my sister-in-law braided my hair the other day and I kept it in for the race. I love having my hair braided, so I think that built my confidence and cut off a few minutes. 😉
Third, a running friend of mine is going through a tough situation – I thought about her throughout the race. Another running friend suffered a second injury in advance of a big race and may not be able to run at the pace he hoped for – I thought about him throughout the race.
Fourth, I thought about all the women running around me. Every fourth woman has been a victim of sexual assault. If you add in harassment, I bet the number rises especially among runners. I was inspired by this group of strong, motivated women. They encouraged each other. They were running with friends who overcame cancer. They were celebrating birthdays or weight loss or friendship. There were daughters, moms and grandmas on the course. It was awe inspiring to be among them.
Fifth, the weather was perfect. This was my ideal running temperature.
Finally, rather than focusing on distance training since I just started focusing on this race at the beginning of August, I’ve been doing a lot more interval training. I suspect this is the most significant reason for the PR, but all the reasons before this mean more to me. 😉
So, I did it again. I remember dreading gym class. I hated running days. I wanted nothing to do with sports. And here I am, breaking PRs left and right. 39 isn’t so bad 😉
Thanks to Beth, my breathwork teacher, for her recent post about being proud of ourselves. I am proud. I am proud of my dedication and hard work. I am proud of my body. I am proud of my mind. I am proud to be a runner.