There are races that make you want to cry because you're so proud of yourself.
There are races that make you want to cry because you're so disappointed in yourself. (Who am I really kidding with the "want to" part of this one?)
Then there are the races that make you want to cry because they hurt so badly. This is a recap of one of those kinds of races…
I didn't know what to do about Racefest. At packet pickup, I was all set to request to drop down to the 10k. But something stopped me. I decided to race the half "for fun", leave my Garmin behind, and just do my best for today.
I lined up a little ahead of the 2:00 hour pacer. I really didn't think I had it in me to race all out today, so I didn't want to go out too fast and get disappointed if I blew up.
I started running and… I felt strong. Like the exact opposite of how I felt all week. And better than last weekend. I had zero dehydration issues.
I ran the first mile in 7:45ish. I know this because there were clocks at the odd mile markers. I was not happy about this. I really didn't want to know my time at all.
That's me on the left in the blue. At mile 3, the clock told me I was running a 7:41 pace. Very interesting…
I kept thinking about last weekend. How I felt so crappy in the beginning of the race, but still went on to PR. I thought maybe I could do it again this weekend. But I tried to keep those thoughts out of my head. Today wasn't last Saturday. And as long as I gave it my all for today, I would be happy with my time.
Around mile 4, I talked with a guy. He told me he's run this race before and said the hills at the end are awful. I've heard friends say this race was hilly, too. But how hilly could it be? I ran the Clemson half last weekend, and doubted this race could be as hilly as that. Famous last words…
The first half of the race went by quickly and I continued to feel strong. Then there was a big hill around mile 7. Afterwards, I thought maybe the worst hill was behind me.
Such a fool. The rest of the course was tough. Just when I thought a hill was about to end, we'd turn a corner and it would keep going. I concentrated on using my arms and telling myself over and over again, "you are stronger than you think". It was actually pretty awesome not knowing my pace at these points. I remembered how discouraged I felt when I saw my Garmin read slow paces on hills last week, and even though I tried to ignore it, I'm sure it still affected me.
At the mile 11 clock, I did the math and realized I could PR if I kept up whatever pace I was running. But then my tired legs started hurting badly. My quads, calves, and IT bands burned and I actually thought my legs might give out. I can't remember the last time I was in this much pain during a race (or after a race for that matter). It was so, so tempting to slow down or even take a walk break.
Yet I kept going. My legs killed more with each step and I was cursing the hills. I had no more words of inspiration. Instead, I bargained with myself, "you never have to race again once this is over." <--- Because I'm sure I'll stand by that.
Those last two miles were seriously some of the most painful miles I've ever run. When I turned the corner to the finish, I realized I had to run uphill to get there. I had my sunglasses on my hat the whole race. Now, I decided I had to wear them to cover my eyes. Not because it all of a sudden got sunny, but because I actually thought I'd start crying from the pain when I ran up the last hill. Pathetic, I know. And, no, thankfully I didn't shed a tear.
When I could make out the numbers on the clock, it said 1:40:25. I dug deep and sprinted so I could finish before 1:40:51; Jeff's time last week! Official results aren't posted yet, but I came in right around there (ETA: Results say I ran a 1:40:40). And I realize you can't compare times of two races. But if my time this week was faster than his time last week, I can say I have the faster more recent time. Clearly, I'll try anything.
I was exhausted but so happy to be done with half marathon #13! Not only did I PR by about a minute and a half, but I also held a consistent pace of 7:41 the whole race. Through all those not-so-fun hills! I'm so proud of myself and doubt I would have been able to do that with my Garmin.
Thirteen used to be my lucky number (thanks to Dan Marino! ) and I guess it still is. To think I almost didn't run this race.
Lessons of the day: Garmins can hold you back and racing is so unpredictable. Never, ever count yourself out!