If there is one thing I learned from running the Lincoln Memorial Half-Marathon this morning, it's that I am simply unable to run races as "training runs". I may start out with every great intention of taking it easy and running goal marathon pace. But there is just something about being in a race that makes it impossible for me to hold myself back. Maybe it's the excitement of all the runners. Maybe it's the cheering spectators (in this case, all 12 of them). Maybe it's the smiling volunteers at all the water stops. Or maybe it's something deeper and more profound... like the supreme feeling of awesomeness that only comes from passing other runners.
This was a small race, as half-marathons go, with just over 1,000 participants. (By contrast, the other half-marathons I have run have all had well over 25,000 participants.) But it started out as any other race - everyone milled about around the start line, trying to stay warm (the weather was cloudy and cool), and before we knew it, the gun was fired and we were off.
If there's another thing I learned from today's race, it's that I really don't need to drink much water before the start of the race. Because very shortly after I started running, I realized I really needed to pee. It wasn't poor planning. I peed a good 12 or 13 times before the race. Okay, that may be a slight exaggeration. But when you gotta go, you gotta go. I knew I wouldn't be able to run 2.5 hours like that. There were two port-o-potties at about Mile 0.5. And apparently I wasn't the only one who had to go, because there was a line. So I stopped. And waited. And waited. And waited. And finally got in, did my thing, and got out.
In order to make up time from that little side trip, I sped up considerably. And I started passing people. At first it was only a few stragglers. But then I started passing more and more people. Even after I slowed down a bit, after doing my "catching up", I was still passing people. I grew hungry with power.
As the miles went by, I did a little mental math and thought I may have a chance for a PR if I could kick it up a notch toward the end of the race. However, that was certainly not my goal coming into this race. I had no intentions of coming anywhere close to a PR. And, as it turned out, I did exactly as I intended - I did not come close to a PR. The reasons for that were (1) I made the bathroom stop in the first mile which cost me time (2) after Mile 6, the course got rather hilly and (3) it also got really windy. So, I ended up being about 3.5 minutes short of a PR. Not bad, considering the circumstances, really. I had originally intended to finish in about 2:30, and I ended up finishing in 2:22:51. (My current half-marathon PR is 2:19:36)
I would like to take a moment to thank the gentleman at about Mile 12 who said "Just 1 mile to go, and it's all downhill from here!" Um. No. It was NOT all downhill from there. You big fat liar. I, of course, heard that and kicked it up a notch, thinking I would be able to sail through the last mile. Nope. There was no sailing. There were only more hills. Shorter than other hills in the race, yes, but hills all the same. And then the wind started coming at me full-force. How I managed to run a 9:49 pace in the last mile, with the wind so completely against me is anybody's guess. But I did. And then I saw my FAST teammates (there were six of us there today) on the sidelines near the finish, cheering me on. So I gave it one final kick and finished strong.
And then they bestowed upon me this most fabulous of medals:
I put a real penny beside it for comparison. And as you can see, there really is no comparison. The giant penny medal is so much cooler than an actual penny! This is by far the best half-marathon medal I've ever gotten.
Overall, this race was really nice. It was quite scenic - running through beautiful parks and historic neighborhoods. It was also cool to run past all of the Abe Lincoln historical sites, like the home he owned, the capitol building, Lincoln's tomb, and such. The race was well-run, with a good number of water stops and plenty of helpful volunteers and police keeping traffic out of our way. I usually like the bigger races for their excellent crowd support and ammenities, but this race was not really lacking in any of those areas. There weren't huge crowds of people cheering on the sidelines, but the people who were there cheering were great. The post-race ammenities were perfect too - space blankets to keep us warm, bottled water, and lots of different food (bananas, oranges, donuts, chili dogs, biscuits and gravy...). For the price ($45), it was a really good value. I would definitely run this race again.
I want to take a moment to shout out to my FAST teammates who ran today. To Coach Brad, who got lost in the cemetery and still managed to finish in 1:24 - way to go! To Tim, who set a half-marathon PR today - congrats! To Kristi, who hasn't run anything longer than 10 miles in a long time, and still kicked butt today - you rock! To Niki, who ran today's race as her first official half-marathon - woot woot! And to my husband, Matt, who isn't even training for half-marathons or marathons and still managed to set a PR by over 10 minutes today - simply amazing! Your speediness knows no bounds!
Peace. Love. Train.