Preface: Prior to today, I had only done 2 Half Marathon’s (HM): Frederick (May 2010) and Baltimore (October 2010). My times were 2:56:40 & 3:13:34 respectively (avg. pace of 13:29 & 14:46 min/mile). I came within the bottom 10% overall and age group for both of those races. When I finished the Baltimore race, I had told my sister that was my last one – I was done. Then a few months later when I told her that I was going to be doing Tri’s, she said “I thought that you said that you were done”. “I am – with running HM’s. Now I’m going to do Tri’s – that’s different”. Well, it sure was different to go back to running the HM!
Pre-Race & Race Day: My running training program has been for length of time over the past 6 months, not necessarily distance. So the most that I had run was only 6-7 miles. So 4 weeks ago, I decided that I wanted to run the route myself, not only to “know the route” but also to see how I did. When I saw my final time, I was SO glad that it wasn’t race day because I would NOT have been happy. My time was 02:35:34 (avg pace = 11:36). I would have been made at myself that I was 5½ minutes over an “even” time (02:30:00). So I had my work cut out ahead of me – my goal for race day was 02:29:59. When I told Aleah about the run and my goal for race day, she said that I would need to average about 11:20 to achieve my goal. She said that it was “do-able” but may be tough with only 3 weeks of real training left. I honestly didn’t do anything differently, just sticking with my coach’s training plan. Tim (Delss) had already said that once Lara crossed the finish line, he would start running the course backwards to find me and then run with me to the end, giving me the encouragement that I needed.
During this past week, I was only able to get in 2 days of any sort of training (due to working – getting things ready for packet pick-up for the race). On Monday evening, I got a decent run in, running from Watch Chain to Harriett Tubman hill and doing hill repeats and then ran back up Cedar to my car. Went very well, I thought. I figured that I would eat my nourishment while running down Cedar and then do walk/jog intervals up Tubman. That way, I wouldn’t be SO wiped out for the rest of the route. Then on Wednesday night, I only had time for a 30 minute run. I ran 2 miles and was SHOCKED to see that I averaged a 9:28 min/mile. There MUST be something wrong with my watch! Granted, it was only 2 miles but it was encouraging that I was getting faster.
Once the responsibility of “organizing the pacers” fell on my lap (once they responded) on Thursday afternoon, I was SO excited to see that Heather and Kim were going to be the pacers for the 11 min/mile group. My plan: start with the 11 min/mile pace up until the hill of Tubman, recover for 1 mile after the hill and then go ahead and leave them, slowly increasing my pace to the end, finishing strong!
For the past 3 days, I believed that I was ready. I was SO anxious to see how things went on race day. Susie and I had also made a decision that since we have very similar goals and pace, that we would run together so that she could encourage me. Within a few minutes of the race, I’m walking towards the tent when I saw Heather and Kim (in their WONDERFUL bright and festive outfits) walking towards the starting line. I followed them to make sure that I would be able to stick to my plan. For the first 4 miles, I stayed right behind them, feeling really good. I knew that they were doing their job by keeping the pace “down”, however, I was feeling so good that on a downhill on Watch Chain Way, I let my feet fly and I passed them. However, not so far ahead of them that I could still hear them talking. Running down Cedar, again, still feeling great, I was ahead of them (avg 10:38 mpm). However, Tubman got me and the 11 mpm pacers passed me! Kim was so hilarious – I heard her talking the entire way up, giving great encouragement to her group of ladies, saying how proud that they will be when they can say, “YES, we actually ran up Harriett Tubman”. Well, even tho’ I can’t say that, I was OK with my walk/jog intervals. Once at the top of the hill, I began jogging once again – continuously. So things were looking OK. It was about mile 9.5 that I saw a “breath of fresh air” – Tim Delss was running towards me! He was exactly what I was needing about then. Of course, with all of his talking and positive encouragement and words of advice, there were women that were jealous, even asking if they could “borrow” him. Absolutely – I share! So he was our group “motivator” for a ways. When he asked what he could do, what did I need, I told him to just keep talking. I may not be able to talk back but just to listen to him help distracted me. I had to laugh as I was approaching the MMTC water stop, I could hear CJ screaming for me even before I saw the volunteers! Thanks CJ! Loved to see the friendly faces!
You know in movies/shows, it will show an actor with the “good angel” on one shoulder and the “devil” on the other? I had a similar situation. Going up the last “hill” (before Cedar), guess who I had screaming/yelling tough love on my left? That’s right – SUSIE ROCKS! And then I had Tim on my right, being sweet, gentle and encouraging! I knew the end was in sight – I was going to make it. About mile 11½, guess who I see running on the grass median back towards me? Brian Richards! He came back to run with me. So I had Brian on my left and Tim on my right! What a picture that would have been! These guys were great, giving all sorts of positive encouragement, not only to me but to other runners, who were beginning to wonder if it was ever going to end. I’m sure the Iron Girls really appreciated it! Right before the webbed fence, they both left me on my own, saying they would meet me at the other side of the finish line or at the tent.
I saw that finish line and did the usual throw your arms up – well, unfortunately, my right arm when and hit a ladies head! Won’t THAT be a great finishing picture! Sorry! But I did it – not only made my goal but in record time. My goal was 02:29:59 = I achieved it in 02:20:06 (of course, I’m wondering where I could have shaved those 7 seconds off in order to be under the 20!) And…I’m in the middle of the pack – both overall and age group! Yahoo! I had to sit down because I felt like I was going to pass out so by this time, Brian, Tim, and Aleah were running to give me hugs and Aleah got some great pictures on her iPhone (thanks! Love them). I am thrilled with my accomplishment and progress. I will continue with training for it next year and in the mean time, I HAVE to improve my swims!
Thank you to EVERYONE for being so a loving and supportive family! I can’t say how proud I am to be a part of this group!