I'm beginning to think this race is completely cursed for me. The only time I've run it well was my first time. Since then, it's been injuries, torn plantar fascia, craptastic weather ... and this year it was seemingly all of the above. Even the finisher medals hadn't arrived! (Though, while we didn't get our real medals, the race directors made certain that we had a temporary medal after we crossed that line.)
So, here I was completely untrained coming off of a stress fracture. 100% chance of rain, cold rain at that. I had only been running again for 2 weeks. No speed work, longest distance was 8 miles (done the day before).
However, I was feeling pretty good overall. No foot pain. Just a lowered endurance level, to be expected after not running for 37 long days. I didn't really announce that I was going to run. I wasn't completely sure I would. But, when it came down to it, I felt I had to participate. Call me stubborn, call me determined, it's something I needed to do for me.
The temperature Sunday morning was around 34 degrees. It was drizzly, gray. I could have easily backed out. I had a great excuse right? But somehow that felt like, well, an excuse. An easy out. I'm not about easy outs. Let me preface this whole thing by saying that if I had thought for one instance that it would have put me in jeopardy for further injury, I would not have run.
The race course was changed up significantly this year. The start was a mile from my house, so I used that as an easy warm up (needed because of the cold especially). My plan was to run and walk when I needed it. I knew that I couldn't think about pace, about my time, about hitting any sort of goal other than to finish.
I was a little nervous about the new course. I had heard a few people complain about it, say it was more difficult. I actually really liked the new start. It was a total straight stretch so it was so much easier to settle into a consistent pace without zigzagging and making tight turns with the masses.
That, however, changed. My only real complaint about the course was the constant turns that eventually came on. We repeated the same stretches as well, and that can start to get to you mentally. But it was the turns, a sharp left, then a right, then a left. Runners all trying to get into that tight turn together, no one wanting to take the wide sweep. Lots of feet. Lots of almost tripping up moments. Lots of apologies to one another. Then trying to regain momentum again. And again. And again.
I did feel like there were more downhill stretches for the new route that helped offset the longer inclines and the blips of hills. Sort of a nice reward for all the turns too.
It's definitely a more spectator friendly course. However, the horrible weather meant there were far fewer spectators. The energy levels were sadly low this year. There were a few stretches of great crowd support, like the Couch Potato Mile where they had set out couches along the sidewalks and were handing out potato chips. It was amusing for sure. But other than that, not much support even through my 'hood where neighbors usually sit out and basically have a party.
My Garmin was about 2 tenths of a mile ahead, so I never really knew what my true pace was. I felt like I was plodding along, slowly, oh so slowly. I was a little disappointed with how hard my effort level felt. But when I looked around me and saw all the other runners pushing through, some beaming with pride, some in pain, knowing that for many this was their first of any of the distances ... I was proud of myself.
I only walked through the aid stations. And while my time was significantly slower than what my races have been recently, I still felt that amazing sense of pride, of accomplishment.
Half Marathon #11 is now in the books. I ended up with a time of 1:46:08 putting me 6th in my age group, however, 3 of them were grand master so that actually ended up making me 3rd in my age group. Somehow I find it a little amusing that my slower time got me an award. I'm digging the aging up thing right now.