On Sunday, I ran the Wounded Warrior Half Marathon in Las Colinas. I ran this race for the first time in 2012, but missed last year due to an imminent home purchase and the six shades of purple on my foot. I enjoy the half marathon distance, but a race becomes extra special to me when the proceeds support a cause such as this. My husband is a Navy veteran, and I got just a hint of some of the sacrifices made by our service members while we were stationed overseas. I am thankful for organizations who aid those who have given so much for our freedom.
The race was scheduled to start at 6:45 (because that’s what we do in Texas summer heat), but there was a bit of a storm delay.
I ran into someone from my running group who was running the 10k, then decided to just hang at the start line instead of the parking garage for shelter. I chatted with a runner who was running her first half marathon. After I tell her just to have fun and don’t worry about her pace, I find out she ran a 10 mile race a few weeks ago in 1:15. Wow! We talked about running and kids. She said it was nice to talk which kept her mind off the race. I was just in awe of her speed.
My goals were pretty loose. Finish under 2 hours, and shoot for negative splits. I planned to start around 8:45 pace and hold steady for a few miles and drop from there. By the end of the first mile my pace was closer to 8:30. I passed the 2:00 pace group, and boy those pacers were having a blast. Singing and making jokes with other runners. In mile 4, I passed the 1:50 pace group. If I could just keep them behind me, then I would PR! At that point, I focused in on breaking 1:50. By the end of the fifth mile, my overall pace was 8:19. I felt good. I felt strong.
Then a turnaround took us into the wind. I fought to keep my pace down and did okay until an uphill around mile 8. The 1:50 pace group passed me – on the hill. Oh no, I couldn’t have that! I train on hills every single day, and I was not about to lose my PR on one hill. I tucked in with the pace group and held on. I used them to help block the wind. I fought with my mind, told myself to shut up several times, and willed my legs to keep up. I imagined what it would feel like to PR in June. I started to fade around mile 10 on another uphill. My handheld was almost empty and I needed a refill. I had downed Gu at miles 4 and between 8 and 9, but I needed another one. I lost the battle with my mind and walked partway up a hill – probably about 15 seconds, then stopped at the aid station to refill and drop in a Nuun tablet (a 15 second auto pause on my Garmin). My pace for miles 6-10 averaged 8:35. Shoot! I still had the 1:50 group in sight but I wanted to walk some more. I focused on sipping my Nuun to deal with the side stitch that had developed and trudged along. I’ve never had a side stitch during a half marathon, and I know I was running hard (for me) because I sounded like I was running a 5k.
Around mile 11, I spotted a runner I recognized from Instagram. I called out and introduced myself. This gave me the distraction I needed to keep from walking. He was an encourager and tried to help me chase that PR. He has done some major running in the past few weeks – including a first marathon. You can check out my Instagram in the sidebar for the photo. The light drizzle kept it cool, but I was soaked in sweat. By mile 12, I waved him on. I don’t want to be the one to hold anyone back. I fought for a strong finish, and my official time was 1:51:13. 31 seconds away from my PR.
I could be upset that I was so close to setting a new PR and failed. I could berate myself for walking up that hill and stopping to refill my bottle (there’s my 30 seconds). I could chastise myself for slowing down in the second half, or going out too fast in the first half. But you know what? I’m pretty content with my race.
1. I run my best in temps between 40 and 50 degrees, and humidity is not my friend. I don’t know what the exact temperature was for the race, but I’m assuming high 60s. Being so close to my PR, I know in cooler weather, I would’ve been faster.
2. I felt strong. The first half I felt like I was holding back. I can feel the difference that 5 weeks of strength training has made.
3. My legs felt like they PRed. My quads and calves still ache.
4. My mileage was pretty decent for the week and it was day 14 of the run streak, proving I tend to run my best on tired legs. Say what?
I sure did need this confidence boost.
Side note: After all this, if you watch Lone Survivor, then you may be an emotional wreck.