With less than 12 hours until the start of the race there was a wind warning for gusts of up to 100 km and it was raining pretty good. I’d done my last 12 mile long run in some pretty nasty rain so I wasn’t super worried, the forecast had been calling for rain on race day for a good two weeks, but as some of you know I have some rational/irrational wind fears. By the time I went to bed the rain had stopped but the wind had not. When I woke up in the morning the sky was scattered clouds and NO RAIN was falling, there was a breeze, wind at times, enough that I wore my running hat, but for what could have been the weather was incredible.
In the final weeks leading up to the race I went through some serious nerves. I hadn’t ran a half marathon in 12 years and I was extremely nervous. Thankfully, by the time I got up Sunday morning after a surprisingly good sleep, I was more excited than anything. My only real worry was my I/T bands, a few days before I had started to doubt the whole process of tapering and I had a few extra taper days on the calendar so I was worried that given the drop in running that even though I was diligently doing the exercises for them that they weren’t going to hold because in my mind I wasn’t running enough.
Given I’d been plagued with injury since the previous April my only goal was making the start and make the start I did! My dad sent me an awesome email full of great advice. Some of it was stuff I had heard to do, for example break your half into four 5ks, but having a lot of great tips in one place that I could read over really helped me on the course when I was hurting.
I felt amazing through the first 10 km, super relaxed, and ran a race split PR of 49:16. I had decided after I knew I was going to make the start that I’d be pretty happy if I could run a 1:50, but I also knew that the only hills in the course were in the second half and so I also figured with how I felt at the end of my last long run that running the first half in around 50 minutes was to my advantage incase I ran into trouble in the second half. And run into trouble I did.
At approximately 12 km I felt both of my I/T bands start to twinge. My hips were fine but my knees, not so much. I seriously thought that I had at least 16 km in them, I wasn’t sure how to handle it at first and panicked and slowed down considerably. I also lost a lot of my rhythm, I didn’t feel so hot anymore. My mind started to get to me, my last half started to exude itself into the forefront of my thoughts and all I could hear was you can’t run the rest of this if both of your I/T bands go, you can’t do it. I remember I was nearing 15 km when I’d had enough and telling my head to fuck the fuck off finally worked, what the hell good was rehashing that horrendous race doing for me? Thankfully, by this point my right I/T band had stopped hurting completely, the left one was not stabbing me but it was rubbing and I was losing confidence.
I was surprised at how badly I was feeling mentally, again, I thought I had at least 16 km of relatively strong mental running in the tank. My head was now heavily relying on having ran that sub 50 minute in the first half and was saying such things to me as no worries you can totally walk up that hill! Not in my race you can’t.
The last 5 km was a battle, I managed to get my disastrous first half marathon out of my head completely but now I just felt pain and I had to dig deep and tell myself to keep picking up my feet and go but man I really didn’t wanna. I had managed to pin myself to a woman close to my pace in the second half of the race up until the last water station where I lost her, she blocked a lot of the wind for me and helped me not die. Thank you anonymous runner.
I beat my brain and I didn’t walk at all, I pushed up the final hill and left everything I had on the pavement. But while I was running for the final turn for the finish a woman who had been racing with a man the entire way who I’d played the you pass me I’ll pass you game with for most of the race – I saw her partner run off to the sidewalk right when I also saw a sign that said unregistered runners drop out here. This was a seriously well organized race and I remember reading somewhere that they could only have 2000 runners due to insurance reasons, so I’m simply confused as to how people were basically allowed to have pacers/bandits that weren’t even registered in the race? I really would have loved to have had Adam meet me at the halfway point and run me in and recently I was creeping Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s half marathon time and read that she is a PROUD race BANDIT and was happy to pace her friends into the finish of races, which I’m glad I came across or it would have been an even bigger what the fuck moment. I really want to know when this became ok? Like I said I haven’t ran a half marathon in 12 years so if I am missing something, please, I’m serious, fill me in.
When I rounded the final corner and saw that I had a chance to put it in the 1:47 range I found a gear that managed to keep me there with a final personal best time of 1:47:50. One of my girlfriends was there to meet me and it meant the world to me even if it was a tad runnerish when she told me that my gel shot had made it’s way up into my nose. I was slightly embarrassed until I realized it wasn’t snot and I had just run 21.1 km.