I'd been debating whether to wear shorts or capris but ultimately decided to go with shorts after how warm it felt during my warm up. With about 10 minutes til race time I got all my stuff ready and noticed that one of the earbuds on my headphones had fallen off. Cue minor freak out. Panicked I put one headphone in and stuffed the other in my sports bra so it wasn't flying all over the place. With about two minutes to spare I made it to the start line.
Despite the race only having around 500 runners the first mile was pretty congested. Instead of getting frustrated and weaving I treated this as a way to not go out too fast. I wasn't sure how I wanted to run this race (negative splits, steady pace, etc) so I decided to mimic how I normally run my half marathons (first five, middle five, last 5K). I was hoping to keep miles 1-4 around 8:30, 4-8 around 8:10-8:20 and the last two sub 8:00. When the first mile clocked in the 8:40's I started to get nervous. Time to pick it up!
Mile 1: 8:46
Mile 2: 8:15
Mile 3: 8:29 <- water stop
Mile 4: 8:13
It was during the second and third miles that I realized this was not going to be the race I was hoping for. Despite my best efforts to do all the little things right, my legs just felt heavy and tight. I really didn't like the first ~5 miles of the course either so at this point I had to make a decision. Years ago as a swimmer if a race wasn't going the way I wanted it to I would just give up. Why bother, right? On Sunday when I knew this wasn't going to be one of those OMG I love running and racing so much days I didn't quit. I thought for maybe 30 seconds about how much I just wanted to walk but those thoughts were chased away. Instead my mind was filled with thoughts like "looks like I'm going to suffer for the next 6-7 miles."
Mile 5: 8:28 <- water stop
Mile 6: 8:02
When mile 4 came I tried to drop my pace but I just didn't have the energy to go harder. Instead I just ran hard. I remember thinking around mile 6 "how can I be this tired and it's only mile 6? I don't think I can hold this pace for the rest of the race, I'm really hurting. I guess I'll just keep running until I can't run anymore. If I crash and burn I'll deal with that later. Just go hard right now."
Miles 8-9 consisted of an out an back and an annoyingly long bridge which was both in direct sunlight and open to the wind we were getting. I was already SO hot during this race despite being one of the only people wearing shorts so running with no shade was destroying what little motivation I had. Something happened on that bridge though. I have never wanted to be done running more than when I was on that bridge (okay maybe during miles 18-20 during the Harrisburg Marathon) but instead of easing up I pushed harder. I picked off each person in front of me one by one, grimacing in pain with each step I took.
Mile 7: 8:33
Mile 8: 8:36
It was on the way back on the bridge that I realized how close I was to finishing. Less than twenty minutes til I'm done? I can do this! Run for your life! And so I did. The winds were so strong that I was being blown diagonally as I ran but I kept going. I have given up so many times before that I surprised myself by how strong I was mentally. I was not happy by any means but by continuing to push myself so hard the entire time I proved to myself that I can run strong even when I feel like shit.
Mile 9: 7:58
Mile 10: 8:16
The last mile of this race was a sufferfest. I'm pretty sure I ran the majority of this mile with my eyes closed, just visualizing myself crossing the finish line. With maybe a half mile to go you run across another bridge that is a bit shorter than the bridge previously crossed. At the Harrisburg Marathon the finish line is right after you cross the finish line so when I was nearing the end of the bridge and there was no finish line in sight I started to get angry. Then we ran past the finish line around City Island for the final quarter mile.
You're lucky I didn't zoom in. This is a rough picture
I tried to run until I had no more in me and when I finally crossed the finish line I stumbled around, practically falling over. For a few minutes I didn't have the energy to walk over to the table with water and Gatorade. I tried to stretch my legs out since I could feel my calves tightening up even more.
Avg pace: 8:22
Two days post race day I'm torn about how I feel about this race. I really didn't like the majority of the course and was deterred by how rough I felt physically. At the same time I proved to myself how strong I can be both mentally and physically. It was not the confidence boosting race I was hoping for in these last few weeks before my half marathon but it could have gone much worse. I taught myself how to push through pain that I normally would not have, and not to mention ran this race more than one minute per mile faster than the half marathon I ran last March.
Question, do you race with music?
I've been doing most of my long runs and hard runs with music and was planning on listening to music during this race before my headphones broke. In the past I haven't raced with music but am now considering it since I like it so much during hard runs.