I’m en route to Cape Town, but thanks to the magic of scheduled posts I can finally bring you the overdue tale of my half marathon triumph two weeks ago.
The short version of the story is I killed it.
The long version of the story begins with me needing to pee. Even though it seemed like every portapotty in the tri-state area had been hauled in, the line was formidable. But I hung it out, because running on a full bladder is the worst. I even stuck to my guns and stayed in line after hearing the starting pistol, figuring it would be a while before my corral (the last one) got even close to the start line.
The gamble paid off. I made it back to my corral mates with plenty of time to shuffle toward the start line with the rest of the slow masses. But the pee delay meant that I was at the back of the back of the pack. Which meant that I spent THE ENTIRE RACE passing people. Which is a huge ego and mood booster and really kept my spirits high for the whole thing.
I still was able to rein it in and follow the advice EVERYONE gave me, sticking to a slow pace and refusing to pass the pace group for the first couple of miles. The first mile was intolerably slow (13 minutes), so I let myself get a little ahead while still holding back for the next few miles. Then the hills in the course started to pick up and I allowed myself to charge up each hill, passing scores of other racers every time.
Around mile 6 I caught up with my friend Josh Camson. This was right around when I was starting to worry that I was going too fast and was going to burn out. Josh was running at a slightly slower pace than me, so I forced myself to match him for a couple of miles to let myself recover a bit. It was only when we hit the West End Bridge, the longest slog of uphill on the whole course, that I let myself break away. I knew I had to power up that hill or my attitude would plummet. Josh has a tendency to FLY downhill, so I said, “see you on the other side!” But I never saw him again.
Because at this point I had passed the half-half point, and I was getting a second wind. Around mile 10, when a lot of the halfers REALLY start hurting and a new group of relayers jumps in with their totally out-of-place sub-7 minute paces hops in, I realized that I was headed toward negative splits (that means running the second half faster than the first half). That was exciting and really kept me going. At mile 11, I saw Collin on the sideline. He had been tracking my progress on his phone and was really excited about my faster-than-expected pace. “You’re averaging like a 10:15 pace!” he said. That was even faster than I thought. I felt really good.
The last couple miles of the half-marathon course are downhill. Between that and the thrill of the race thus far having gone so well, I was able to put everything I had into that last leg and really empty the tank. My last mile was a little over 8 minutes.
It was hard to come down when it was over. I couldn’t quite believe the race had gone as well as it had: really as well as it possibly could have gone for me. It left me wanting more, badly. Even at the totally-inappropriate post-race bar visit I made with my friend Vicki and some other racers, I was already scheming about when and where I could run a full marathon.
This, by the way, was a notion I was somewhat less enthusiastic about the next morning, when my calves felt full of razor blades and my right hip felt like it was being chewed on by a Gremlin. But pain is temporary and half-glory is half-forever. So here’s hoping I find a safe and fun way to run in Cape Town.