This morning was the Fort Worth Half Marathon (half marathon #7 for the year for me). It was also the most I've EVER run in a race (only walk breaks were the aid stations). And in a day where I didn't set out to "race", it yielded great rewards.
I had been repeating the simple mantra I had written out for myself all week - "I Refuse To Psych Myself Out". Simple, huh? I had a laundry list of things that weren't lining it up to be a terrific race for me. Muscle tweaks, low mileage after being sick in October, etc. I was concerned the weather was going to be unbearably humid. So I had my mantra and planned to just "get the mileage in". It was just a 13.1 mile training outing.
The temperature waiting for the start was kinda cool. The breeze made you just a bit TOO cold in a short sleeve shirt just standing around. I was still concerned about hidden humidity that would rear its ugly head a few miles in, and I debated whether or not to just stick with wearing a short sleeve shirt or go with only the sports bra. I decided to keep the shirt on.
We start the race, small group of a couple hundred of us, 20 miler racers mixed in with our half marathon race. I spend the whole race trying to keep a good easy pace, enjoy the scenery, remember to smile and relax through the miles, and never let my heart get beating too fast or get out of breath. I watch my Garmin like a hawk, as I work on all the consistent pacing I've tried to learn the last several months.
I only walked at the water stations, and this is something easy to gloss over, but I keep trying to remind myself after the fact what a big difference that was for me. And how hard that was, especially in the later miles when my brain just wanted me to walk so bad! And I repeated my mantra, because it was so easy as I ran and ran and ran to think that there was no way I could keep that up, that I would fizzle out just 5K from the end, and end up walking all of the last few miles.
By mile 4, the humidity was getting to me, and I found myself down to a hot pink sports bra. The funny point about that is how I never saw any other woman in just a sports bra, until right around Mile 10. A 20-miler racer, fast gal, young 20-something, passed by me quickly, and she was wearing just the sports bra up top. Skinny girl, more of the stereotyped runner physique, lacking a lot of curves, and each vertebrae of her back visible to me. This is NOT what I look like, far from. And I was proud of myself for having the confidence to just do what I needed to do to have a good race day and not worry about how it looked or how I looked in that moment.
The course went on and off sidewalk and crushed limestone trail. I'm still SO not a fan of the trail portions - it's harder on my gait, my pronation, and the cushioning on the balls of my feet. But I think I mentally handled it better than the September race where I had first encountered it because I knew to expect it this time!
Thank you to Steve Lucas and Suzann McLemore, both of which are a similar pace to me and were both doing the half also. It was great leapfrogging with them throughout the race, as both are very friendly and none of us take this so seriously that we can't share a little encouragement with whoever we are passing at the moment. Suzann and I talked about how close we were at each encounter in miles 9 through 12, and it was great to keep the focus on just how far we'd come and then tricking the mind with a nonchalant, "We can do this, it's JUST a 5K left." (not like we've just finished 10 miles at that point, right?)
In the end, I managed to clomp clomp clomp along at pretty even splits, another thing I am very pleased about for the day. And found a kick at the end - taking myself from an average around 11:45 pace to running a 10:47 pace in the last 0.2 miles!!!
Before today: Old PR - 2:42:13 (Big D Half, April 2009)
Today's race: NEW PR - 2:36:23
That's a 6 minute, 50 second improvement! It means I've taken 18 minutes off my half marathon time since the beginning of the year, and I am so much closer to my 2009 New Year's Resolution to get to a 2 1/2 hour half marathon (24 minute improvement needed when I made the goal).
Mile 1 - 11:29
Mile 2 - 11:40
Mile 3 - 11:50
Mile 4 - 11:59
Mile 5 - 11:28
Mile 6 - 11:46
Mile 7 - 11:47
Mile 8 - 11:43
Mile 9 - 11:39 (new 15K PR: first 0.3 of that mile was 3:31, bringing 15K total to 1:48:51 - 1 min, 30 sec off previous PR)
Mile 10 - 12:01
Mile 11 - 11:37
Mile 12 - 11:53
Mile 13 - 12:10
Mile 13.1 - 11:45
Mile 13.3 - 10:47
Course measured 13.3 on my Garmin.
Keep my weekly mileage up for the next month, then...
White Rock Half Marathon - 12/13/2009 (half marathon #8 for the year!)