This is the second time I’ve ambitiously signed up for this early February half marathon, thinking I could put in the time and energy toward training for it.
After a November marathon, after the holidays, and more work upsets – same crap, different year… When will I learn? Who can pull off their best race in early Feb?
Aerobic base and endurance doesn’t just disappear, though – so I knew that despite the lack of long runs, the lower mileage, low energy, and weight gain – I should still show up and see what my best was.
In full manifestation of my unpreparedness, I realized a half mile in that I had not bothered to match any average paces to finishing times. What pace did I need to make 2:10? No idea. 2:05? Nope. Am I running way too fast to finish? Who knows.
I just had my trusty “What was I thinking when I signed up for this?” Half Marathon Pacing Strategy (TM): Run steady and comfortably for the first 8 miles. Then decided whether to crush the last 5 miles or just finish with dignity.
Not really knowing or caring where I started, I get caught up in traffic. I try not to leap and bound around people – too much energy expenditure. I clock in at 10:44 and realize I should probably speed things up, if only to not be out in the cold for so long.
Mile 2 & 3
Traffic clears up a bit. I wish for gloves for my cold hands, but am otherwise happy in my singlet, shorts, and arm warmers in the 40 degree weather (9:44 and 9:38).
Get into my groove. Headwind picks up and I try to hide behind a tall guy. He retaliates by farting. Well played, sir. Well played. Average 9:20/mi and I begin to get antsy for that 8 mile pick up.
I speed up a little sooner than planned, but feel ready. I focus on steadily passing each person ahead of me. Someone blazed past me and out of sight, tearing up the course, but I wasn’t passed by anyone I overtook (9:09).
Mile 9 & 10
I pass everyone in my group and end up in the dead spot with no other runners. In fact, I actually had to pay attention to the course arrows, because the runners ahead of me would turn multiple corners out of sight. For one moment I frighten myself into thinking I’m off course. Far in the distance is someone in a green shirt. Was I slowing down? By how much? No one there to help me gauge my pace.
My new mantra: Green shirt. Green shirt. Green shirt (9:01, 8:57).
I’m now the tail end of the group. Cars are now crossing the route behind me instead of between me and Green Shirt. Green Shirt starts messing with the ipod on his arm. Yes, Green Shirt. Stay distracted!
Green Shirt stops messing with his arm and returns to his pace. Ugh.
I don’t care. I’m going to pass him anyway. Maybe I can’t stay ahead of him, but I’m going to try. I owe it to myself! (Why? Who knows.)
Green Shirt. Green Shirt. Green Shirt.
I pass him, trying to act all casual, as if I haven’t been chasing his back for miles.
He calls out as I pass, “See you at the finish line.”
I’ve won. Even if I crash and burn in a mile, I’ve won the race at mile 11. Let it be known! (9:00)
More turns have left the group looking pretty sparse. There’s a white shirt up ahead, but she is SO FAR AHEAD.
White shirt. White Shirt. White Shirt.
White Shirt fades. Pass White Shirt (8:47)
Ugh, this race is exactly 1 mile too long! Just hang on. There is no more running after the finish line. This is all the running you have to do. (9:01) I might make it close to 2:04 (somehow in my mind this is my PR, but it’s not)
Turn the corner into the last few blocks with cheering. Some poor soul is in the corridor. Just the motivation I need to sprint. I pray I don’t trip and face plant inches before the finish line. Does that clock really say 2:02??
Get my medal. Hobble to the bathroom to pee. Come back and find a banana. Mission accomplished.
Official time: 2:02:48
I visit my blog to find out my previous PR is 2:10:12 (my first half). I have another half marathon in 8 weeks. My goal is to break 2 hours, which is possible with training and a bit more strategy.