The half marathon of my wildest dreams
I confess I was a little nervous this morning when the alarm woke me at 4:45 AM. I’d been feeling the usual taper trauma: Did I train enough? Did I overtrain? Did I peak two weeks ago? Did I mess everything up by doing that tough uphill-and-snow hike last Monday when I should have been seriously tapering? Am I way over-analyzing this whole thing? You get the drift.
The weather forecast looked promising. We’d had rain on and off all week, and wind when it wasn’t raining, but this morning was calm with high clouds. It was a bit chilly at 47, but would probably be in the mid 50s by the finish line.
I had breakfast (coffee, a hardboiled egg, and plain yogurt with chopped dates, apricots, and pine nuts) done by 6:00. Then I spent 90 minutes triple-checking my clothing, my gear, my race number bib, and my timing chip to make triple-sure that everything was where it was supposed to be and was likely to stay there. A friend then drove me to the starting place and we arrived about 8:00, still an hour before race time. Only when I was finally there did I settle down and relax a bit.
Based on my great 11-mile run two weeks ago I thought I had a realistic chance of finishing in less than 2 hours and 30 minutes. I was secretly hoping for less than 2:27, which would beat my last race (and last personal record) by 10 minutes. To do that I needed an average 11:10 pace, so I decided to go out at 11:00 and see how things were feeling.
Everything worked better than I could have imagined in my wildest dreams. All of the hill training, both running and hiking, REALLY paid off for me. I sailed up hills where everyone around me was walking. I hit the halfway point at 1 hour and 10 minutes, which is a 10:41 pace. I figured I probably couldn’t sustain that speed for the second half, but then I kept running up hills and passing people. I had to walk for all of about three paces on mile 7 at the last steep hill, simply because there were so many walkers that I couldn’t steer around all of them fast enough.
By the time I passed mile 8, I was into the section of trail where I do most of my running. The last five miles are either slightly downhill or flat. My only real concern here was possible wind along the waterfront, but that didn’t happen. I sped up and passed more people. I did miles 9 through 12 in the 10-minute range each, and I ran the last mile in 9:23. I ran the ENTIRE 13.1 miles except for those three walking steps.
It helped that at just under half a mile from the finish my iPhone randomly shuffled to the theme song from “Chariots of Fire.” Talk about inspiration!
With that song in my ears I finished in 2:16:10 per my watch. That is a 10:24 average pace, and yes I had a big negative split (faster second half)!
My “gun time” was two minutes slower than that. For non-runners, gun time is the time from the official start until a runner crosses the finish line, whereas “net time” is the elapsed time from the point that I actually cross the starting line to the finish line. Because I had several hundred runners lined up ahead of me at the start, it took me a full two minutes to reach the starting line after the gun sounded.
I’ve never been particularly concerned about gun time because it only really counts for determining finish order for awards. Slow happy runner that I am, I’ve always figured that the only way I’d ever win a gender/age group award was if I keep running until I’m about 85 or so. When the gun time results were posted, I had to scan through the list three or four times before I could fully convince myself that I’d taken third place in my class. I TROPHIED!!!!!!!!
Well, I should say that I plaqued. Here I am, not so slow and very happy, with my totally awesome 3rd place plaque.
As always, our local race had great volunteers and wonderful spectator support all along the course, even in the parts that are tough to reach from the road. I had friends popping up at several places, and more friends waiting for me at the finish. It’s a whole lot easier to run a race when friends are there to cheer you on — thanks to all of you for your help and support!
Last year I dragged myself over the finish line in 2:55; today I think I could have kept running for another mile or two. I’m not sure how I’m going to top this one.