This past Saturday–November 7, 2015; marked my 11th half marathon. I shared with friends the week prior that this race was going to be about getting back to the roots of my running. When it was just for fun. It’s *always* just for fun, but my very first half marathon when I was 20 (I think?) was the Indianapolis Life 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. I had one goal: finish. I was immeasurably proud that I did. Ecstatic even. And the bug had bitten me. Back then I didn’t care about my time, or setting a new PR. I just wanted to complete the distance. This summer there was a lot going on behind the scenes with me and so training to PR was not my priority. I went in to this race knowing I was not going to be pushing for a PR. This summer I hadn’t been training for a 50K, or a marathon, so 13 miles wasn’t sounding as short or as easy as it did a year ago. I went into this race planning simply to run a half marathon for fun. I guessed it would be a good bit slower than my current half marathon PR, actually. And I was fine with that. Because running, and *enjoying* 13.1 miles is still pretty amazing and awesome. And if I’m not enjoying it, first and foremost, then what’s the point anyway?
But. Still. Once you’ve begun to compete with yourself, to set and achieve personal goals, and to have expectations…it’s against your DNA to ignore that inner competitor. I knew I was going to have to struggle mentally with comparing myself…to my former self, to others…
When we got there I realized just how small the race was. Uh oh! No safety in numbers for me. I legitimately wondered, much to David’s chagrin, if I would come in dead last. Instead of stroking me (I’m a girl, of course I was looking for that 😂) he reminded me that I was just defeating myself before I even started. I knew he was right. So I reminded myself that it was meant to be FUN, and commenced with people watching (read: sizing people up. You know it’s true.)
Just before the start we were joined by a firefighter in FULL GEAR. Helmet, mask, everything. Carrying two flags. Did I mention it was mid-seventies and 90% humidity?! I immediately shook off any remaining attitude of self pity, turned and told him “you rock!” and offered a fist bump.
And we were off. I felt great, and of course went out a little too fast, having decided I was going to try to stay with the 3 young women I took pictures for at the start line. It was one of the women’s first half marathon, and they all seemed nice. I stayed with them until mile 4, and then I decided that if I kept that pace up I was going to hate the second half of the race and my overall pace would suffer worse for it. At mile 4 I began a run/walk ratio of 5:1 and pretty much immediately felt stronger. During my first walk break a woman who had been slightly behind me encouragingly offered “let’s go!” She waved her hand and repeated. I explained it was a scheduled walk break and she passed me. I remember thinking, “don’t worry, I’ll pass you later.” And I did, FYI. I finished a good 5-10 minutes before her. Sometimes you need to slow down to speed up.
This was a very twisty, turny course
With a handful of spots where u-turns provided opportunities to pass by those ahead of you/behind you in the race. Somewhere around mile 7.25 for me and 8.25 for him, David and I had the perfect opportunity for a mid-run, on the fly, kiss. That smooch was a highlight. At another time I passed the firefighter and saw he was well behind the rest of the runners. I called out some encouragement seeing his painful looking trudge. He mustered a smile, but said “I don’t know if I can do it.” For a moment I thought about saying to hell with my own race, walking across the median, and just walking to support him. But instead I called out “Yes you can! You absolutely can…don’t make me come back and carry you wearing all that…” He started laughing, and I called “oh, I could do it!!” over my shoulder. By now we were out of sight from each other. I thought about him the rest of the race and hoped he would finish strong.
I enjoyed running through the neighborhoods. There were lots of people offering cheers and support, which is always a favorite part of any race. At one point I was waving to a little boy as I ran by. Just as I was passing, it came time for my next one minute walk break. I heard him say, “mom, look some people are walking.” She quickly replied, “yes, isn’t it awesome that they keep moving forward when they have so far to go?! They are going all the way downtown!” I loved that reframe. He continued cheering.
Another time, around mile 10, a gentleman standing in his yard with some friends called out “you made that hill look easy!” I said, totally sincerely, “that was a hill?!” I swear I wasn’t trying to be a smart ass. But coming from Columbia, my version of a hill and this man’s was clearly different. That said, there were thankfully a couple of small hills in the second half of the course. I always passed people on hills, which was a great confidence boost.
I came in at 12.92 miles according to my Garmin Fenix. I thought that perhaps my GPS was off, but apparently David said many people found the course to be short. Who knows. I thought the course was well marked, especially considering the number of turns involved, and the volunteers were great (except the one who told me I was at mile 9 when I was really closer to 10.5…that messed with my head for a second!) 2:29:40 was my official time. Not my best, but not my slowest either! My first two half marathons, in my twenties, my times were over 2:40. So overall I feel really good about my race. Especially considering the humidity. I felt strong physically and mentally the whole way, and wasn’t even sore the next day. To me that’s a win.
I was grateful and felt so blessed to have David (after having finished his race), David’s sweet daughter, her mother, and David’s mom waiting at the finish to cheer us in. They definitely gave me the pep in my step to finish strong.
After a quick shower at Fitness Forum, which they were so gracious to offer to participants, we were off for some well earned breakfast. On the way we saw my buddy…
I had fun, and I’m ready for the next adventure!