Half Marathon #5 is FINALLY in the books! It only took a year and a half, but I finally did it.
When I did Baltimore in 2012 I was nervous as I liked up at the start, but yesterday was the first time I’ve ever been nervous the night before a race. I’m not sure why – I wasn’t planning on racing this. The only thing I can think of is because I had agreed to pace someone else. I was also a bit nervous that my achilles wouldn’t make it through the entire distance.
I was so anxious about this race that I got there even before the race director was there to set up the registration table! That’s okay though, because I got to see a gorgeous sunrise.
Registration was at an old burned down school and started a quarter mile down the road.
It was very cold this morning, so cold that I wish I had had throw away gloves. I was supposed to be on a Skype call with my girlfriends from Hopkins, who are spread out around the world, but I wasn’t able to get enough cell signal to connect to the call – kind of a crummy way to start the day.
Being a low-key race, we all gathered right at 8:00am for a quick overview of the course from the race directors and then we were off! The way the race was structured, it was basically a 5k out, then we turned around and did a 10k, followed by one more 5k to finish up the day.
The woman that I was pacing uses a run-walk method of 5 minutes running, 1 minute walking, which was certainly new to me. Her goals for the race were a) to finish, and b) to not finish last. I told her if we ended up being the last people in that she would finish in front of me so she wouldn’t be last.
We kept a comfortable pace on the first 3.3 miles out. After the turn around, I convinced her to push the pace a bit, taking advantage of the slight down-hill grade. She was really strong through the first 8 miles but started to slow down a bit on 9. I remember my first half and how mentally challenging it was so I tried to build her up as much as I could and keep her moving – it’s always so much easier to keep moving, even at a slow pace, than it is to start moving again after stopping.
On the final 3.1 miles back she really needed to dig deep to find the extra gumption to push through the discomfort. It took a lot of cajoling, but she did it! We finished just about 2:39:00 – nearly 20 minutes better than my PR in 2012.
I’m really glad I did the race today. Aside from helping someone else to achieve their goal of finishing her first half marathon, I was able to get my scheduled mileage in for the weekend (first time all month!) and know that I can easily do the mileage I have coming up with Army. I also now know that my achilles is strong enough for this. With all the disappointments I’ve had this month, I really needed this. And it was also nice to hear from her that I had an annoying level of energy and optimism in the later miles 🙂 That really kinda made my day.