So my half marathon was yesterday morning. I was definitely nervous going in because I spent the previous week in the hottest place on earth and just couldn't keep my normal training routine there. I ran about 5 slow miles each day, but I wasn't running hard and the desert is actually flat, so no hill work to speak of. I'm not sure it actually hurt anything other than my confidence to have a light week last week, but it definitely didn't help me.
Of course summer finally arrived in Dissertation City while I was away, and so this weekend it was into the 90s both days. Saturday was spent guzzling water and eating carbs in preparation for the race. Saturday night I couldn't sleep from the excitement and anticipation of the race. The few snatches of sleep I grabbed were filled with dreams where I missed the start of the race.
Sunday morning I got up at 4:45. The morning was beautiful and clear. Husband dropped my friend and I off at the start line to join 5,000 of our closest friends. We waited eagerly, milling about near the banner. The elite runners were easy to identify, tall and lanky with serious looks on their faces.
I decided to run with a pacer for this race. My goal time was 2 hours, which would mean a 9:10 pace. But I was feeling ambitious and positioned myself behind the 8:35 pacer instead. The start time was delayed by 15 minutes (groan) but finally it was time to line up. The gun fired and the crowd pushed slowly towards the line, thumping their eager little feet closer and closer.
The bottleneck at the start actually dissipated fairly quickly, and I was able to start jogging within seconds after passing the line. I found my pacer and set out.
The first couple miles of the race took us across a low floating bridge, and it was a pretty incredible view. The bridge offered no shade, of course, so the sun was pretty intense. I was sweating pretty good by the time I hit the first hill at 4 miles, a long but moderate climb for about 1/2 mile. I was feeling pretty good, but the water I had picked up was already sloshing in my stomach and making me feel a little ill.
The first 7 miles went quickly and I had no trouble keeping up with my pacer, but at mile 7, the course hit this ridiculous hill. 1/2 mile long and straight up. Despite all my hill work, I simply couldn't do it. I had to walk parts of the hill because it was just so steep. It was little consolation that about 75% of the people around me were walking too... it was a real morale buster. From there on out, the course was actually quite hilly, but they were manageable hills and I was able to roll with it, but I lost the 8:35 pacer and knew I wasn't going to be setting any records.
The heat was tough, but the race wound through some neighborhoods were people were out spraying their hoses for anyone who needed to cool down. There were lots of spectators shouting encouragement and clapping. "After this hill it levels off for a bit" and "Almost to mile 10" and "Water station around the corner". It was really nice to have people out there cheering us on.
I was doing pretty good for awhile and had mentally recovered from the hill at mile 7. At 11 miles the marathoners broke off from the half marathoners and I was very glad to only have 2 miles left instead of 15. At mile 12 we were suddenly confronted with a short hill that was so steep it was like climbing stairs. For a second time during the race, I had to walk. It was a huge disappointment. But every single person around me had to walk it to, and there was a whole lot of cursing (not just from me!... some of it was me, but not all). Seriously, what kind of course designs the toughest hill of all for mile 12? That's just rude.
At the top, people were cheering for us again. "It's all flat from here!" they called, "Less than a mile to go."
Unfortunately, I had started out too ambitious, and the hills had taken a lot out of me. I didn't have anything left for an extra push to the end. So I kept an even pace and kept an eye out for the finish line.
Finally I could see the turn into the chute. The street was lined with people cheering and clapping. About halfway through the chute I saw Husband and Bean clapping for me, but I couldn't see a clock. Finally the crowd cleared and as I crossed the line I saw 1:59:11. I had beat the 2 hour mark (though just barely). I was so relieved I almost cried.
I grabbed some water and watermelon and headed out to find my little family. Bean shared my watermelon with me and was grinning a big juicy smile. We found her a balloon to play with, and she walked around the park looking for dogs to pet.
It wasn't my best run, but I learned a lot. I was too aggressive at the beginning. I drank too much water. I didn't eat enough before the race, and I could have used a sugar boast in the middle. But I hit my goal, and I can't wait for the next race so I can try again.