“Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle.” – Christian D. Larson
Many months back, some of my girlfriends from college and I decided that our nice October weekend get-together should include running a half marathon. My friend Brianna lives in (or around) the West Hartford, CT area so a handful of us traveled from NY, CT and MA to spend the weekend together.
During the lovely Friday evening train from NYC ride with my friend Jessica, I discussed my half marathon fears and goals (A, B and C) over 16oz Bud Lights. Side note: I love train beers ($2.75 for 16oz = cheapest in Manhattan). You catch me at the Penn Station beer stand from now on. Anyway, I disclosed to her that my C goal was around my current PR time of 1:50, B was 1:48ish and A goal was 1:45. I said that and kind of laughed because I did not think it was doable (ahem, that’s what B goals are for). We ended up going out to dinner and I had ANOTHER beer and a giant plate of pasta with marinara sauce. Simple and easy on the belly.
Friday had involved some panicking. I checked the weather for Saturday and saw 56 degrees. I didn’t think about what temp is would be from 6-10 AM. Hourly forecast: 29 degrees at start of race at 8am, 34 degrees at finish at 10am. Yikes. THANK GOD I packed throwaways, my new Lululemon gloves and a headband.
Saturday morning I woke up, stretched, foam rolled, ate (half bagel with peanut butter), drank coffee and then made everyone late because I relaxed for so long that when it was time to go none of my stuff was together Shocker.
We drove 15 minutes to the start area (which was set up to be a mini-expo/post-race party) and sat in the car for about 30 minutes to stay warm. What goes on in my head before a race like this? Honestly, nothing. I didn’t think about the race at all (or the weather) and I pretended I was just in the car dancing to Britney Spears with my friends.
I drank my usual 5 Hour Energy and we walked to the crowded start (with Bruce Springsteen blasting in my headphones). The announcer did a great job of pumping everyone up and we waited outside the corrals until we could pop in.
Once it was our time to go, I stripped down to my race out (+ a long sleeve tech shirt) and fumbled around with my iphone, headphones and Garmin. Another shocker.
The race started in front of the CT State Capitol. It was extra crowded during the first mile so I tried my best to move swiftly around others (I told myself before the race a 9ish minute first mile is OK). The roads widened for a while and I was able to IMMEDIATELY fall into a groove. Jackpot.
Mile 1: 8:32
From Mile 2-8, (as the website states) the course “tours attractive sections and neighborhoods of Hartford and West Hartford.” I saw my friends screaming their faces off and I screamed, waved and threw them my long sleeve shirt. I was settled in a perfectly comfortable pace and was REALLY enjoying my playlist. In the morning I stuffed a box of raisins in my sports bra for fuel and I took my first bit at mile 5.5. It was an enjoyable snack and I dumped them right in my mouth from the box. I was going to toss them but I figured they weren’t bothering me so back in the bra they went.
I passed through the halfway point around 54 minutes. This was the first time I actually thought about my finish time. My thoughts: “Maintain this pace, finish around 1:47-1:48.”
Mile 2-8: 8:03, 8:01, 8:13, 8:08, 8:03, 7:57, 8:06
Miles 9-10 were in Elizabeth Park. It was a nice change of scenery and the foliage was very pretty! That word drop was for you Laura (and Kara)! Thoughts during Mile 9-10: “Can you maintain this pace? Do you have another kick in you? Yes. OK. Let’s go. This is your race. You ARE strong enough to do this. Do NOT slow down, you are comfortable at this pace. DO NOT SLOW DOWN. BE STRONG, RUN STRONG.” Basically a huge self-pep talk (also channeling Jocelyn’s thought process)!
Miles 9-10: 8:05, 7:55
I hit 10 miles around 1:22. At that moment, I knew I was going to PR. I needed to get through one 5k (without tripping this time) at the same pace. I had some more raisins and tossed the rest. I told myself I could slow down a bit to save some energy and quickly wiped those thoughts out of my head and decided to speed up instead. I also cheated and used the very welcomed downhill to start that momentum.
My only thoughts during the last 5k were:
- I’m so happy I’m wearing all yellow. Yellow is meant for PRs.
- This fucking playlist is awesome. Thank you Vegas for helping me create it.
- I wonder why I haven’t raced a half marathon since April 2011. I love this distance.
- HOLY SHIT, do I want to/can I race the NYCM?
- I love running in this weather.
- I fucking love my outfit.
I crossed the finish line and tripped over my headphones (remember the fumbling, I guess I didn’t do so well with their storage during the race). We can only hope Brightroom got a shot of my “holy shit I just ran a monster PR turned holy shit I just almost fell” finish.
Miles 11-13.1: 7:49, 7:35, 7:35, .whatever 7:12
Official Finish Time: 1:45:38
I was thrilled. I’m still thrilled.
Post race UFO White. HEAVEN.
My main (and constant) thought leading up to the race was, “I don’t think I can run 8:00/mi for an entire half marathon.” Example:
Thank you Stacy. You were right. I owe you a drink.
The reason for my mental confusion: My NYCM training in the weeks leading up to the half were intense. I ran long each week – distance, check.
- 9/23 – NYRR 18 mi Tune up
- 9/27-9/28 – Ragnar Adirondacks – 32.8 mi (Leg 1, Leg 2, and Leg 3in case you’re interested)
- 10/7 – 20.2 mi with Abby
Speed? Not even close. I had not (and still haven’t) done any speedwork since the week before I was put in that damn walking boot. So what happened?
Everything lined up for me during this race. The weather (although cold, was very comfortable to run in) and my fueling were obvious factors. My passion for the sport came out during this race. I wanted to be out there and run a strong race. My mind is in a better place than it was a month ago or 2 months ago and even than before I got hurt. This race reminded me that hard work and dedication coupled with a strong heart WILL inevitably lead you to accomplishments.
The best thing I got out of this race: confidence. I spent a lot of weeks really down on myself for not being able to run. I worked my way back into the distances the best that I could. It turns out, my body (and mind) needed to rest (for 5 weeks) in order to start working properly again.
Moving forward: No more “I don’t think I can run that pace for …… (insert distance here).” Strictly positive thoughts helped me through this one. Give it a try!