Today I ran with a heavy heart. Before going to bed last night I found out that my aunt was in the hospital and was not doing well. Shortly after leaving the house for my race this morning I found out that she had passed. It made for a long, quiet ride in the car. But along the way I took this picture of the sunrise above Mt Hood and posted it to my Facebook with this message:
An awesome sunrise to remind us that every day we are given a new chance to live life to our fullest potential. Give it everything you have. Live life to the fullest with no regrets.
The sunrise seemed to calm me and center me.
I had zero expectations coming into this event. I’ve had three runs for whopping 16 miles in the last 29 days. The smart thing to do would be to enjoy the run on a very cold, but beautiful day. Yeah, I’ve never been very smart.
After last month’s 5k, where I was rushed for time before the start, I made sure I had plenty of time for my pre-race routine. I even had a few extra minutes to stand around the starting line and freeze my butt off…did I mention it was cold? But it did give me time to say hi to the race director, Elba Benzler, a very nice guy who I have never seen NOT smiling. When he saw me by the starting line he came over and gave me a big hug and said he loved my attire!
My “plan” for today was to target a 7:30 overall pace. I wanted to go 8:00-7:30-7:00. Just gradually speed up each mile. But guess my legs had other plans. The gun went off and away we went. The nice thing about an extended lay off is your muscles are nice and fresh. The bad thing about an extended lay off is your brain forgets how much running fast hurts. A quarter mile in and I knew I was WAY ahead of pace, but I felt good (man it seems like I say that a lot in my recaps). Half mile in I still felt good but I was quickly noticing my breathing was starting to change. Oh yes, I remember this part…not the part where you settle into a nice pace for a half marathon and cruise, but the part where you push you body to the limits for a 3 mile sprint. But, I kept checking myself and I felt good, for the most part. Mile 1…6:24. Yeah, that’s not 8:00. I haven’t downloaded the data yet, but given my next two splits and how I felt, I’m guessing that first mile was more like 5:30 pace for the first half mile and then 7:30 for the second half mile.
After the first mile I felt like I had settled into a nice rhythm and just tried to focus on my breathing, which was definitely labored. The 3 mile sprint pain memory was quickly coming back to me. At one point I did get stuck behind a guy who had recently passed me. Normally, when someone passes you, they just keep on trucking and no big deal. But this guy was like the annoying car on the freeway who tailgates you until they can finally pass and then just sits in front of you not going any faster. Not a huge deal, but we were running on no shoulder/sidewalk streets in the suburbs. Lots of potholes that I had trouble seeing until the last minute. I finally backed off just a hair and let him pull away a little. Mile 2…7:30 (hey, I nailed my mile 2 goal!)
They did make a change to the race this year. Due to safety issues they had us run the exact same course…backwards. I’m not exactly sure why running the exact same course, but backwards, was safer, but whatever. This did create a slight change to the course. There is one section that is a gradual, not overly long, incline/decline depending on which way you are running. The decline just before mile 1 last year was pretty cool. The incline at about mile 2.25…not so much. This is also about the time that you can see the general location of the finish line…and realize it is still 10 minutes away. I’ve come to realize I really hate this. My brain is saying “You can do it, the finish line is right there!” My body replies “Screw you, you come down hear and push this fat ass around for 3 miles!!” I had noticed after mile 2 that I had a shot at a PR. I’m sorry, WHAT?! Yeah, couldn’t believe it. So I started doing that little dance I do where I start “PR watching”, where I constantly go back and forth between the road and my watch with my eyes. One of these days I’m going to bight it right in the middle of the road. I got about a half mile from the finish line and knew I was not running a sub 6:00 pace, so the PR was out. But I was still running a solid time. I made the last 90 degree turn and saw that there was someone closing in on me with 100 meters to go. I will be the first to admit that I CRUISE into the finish line. It is something I’m aware of and do not like about my racing. But not today! I gave it all I had and held them off…yay, me! Mile 3…7:35. Final time 21:49. Here’s me coming into the finish line. My form doesn’t look half bad in this picture.
I ran this race in 21:15 last year and my PR is 21:05. Remember that part about no real training the last month? Yeah, I’m VERY happy with this race. This was also a huge mental boost for me. After all the distance training I did the last 9 months, I was wondering if I was going to be able to “run fast” again. I know it’s mental, but it was gnawing at me. If my foot holds up, I’m feeling very good about my training moving forward. And a double bonus, I placed in my age group! I took 2nd, finishing 11th overall. I took the opportunity to get a picture with the Get Bold Babes after getting my medal.
Get Bold is still relatively new to the race management scene. They put on a handful of events a year and I run most of them. Great people who do really work hard to put on a great event. Each one gets better. My first half marathon this year is one of theirs, Blooms to Brews in April. Looking forward to it!