Yesterday was the Rock N Roll USA Half Marathon and it was a big day/race for me for a couple of reasons. First, it was the anniversary race of my very first half marathon which I ran last year. Secondly, it was the first race I’ve run in (and the longest distance I’ve run) since the Marine Corp Marathon. Thirdly…it was race #1 of my Thirteen 13.1’s in 2013 Challenge (yea, I’m nutty – I know).
I was a little nervous about the race – mostly because I was coming off of a nasty cold that kept me from running for the past week. They changed the start line this year, well the entire first half of the course actually, and with that naturally came some issues and hiccups. I must say…I tip my hat to race directors and the folks that plan these races for runners. We are a tough crowd sometimes! I appreciated the attempt to change the venue, but I think logistically speaking it might have been a better idea to have left the course as it was originally. But hey, trial and error right?
I started the race pretty conservatively since I wasn’t sure how my body would hold up. My main focus was to make it through the first mile and pay attention to how I felt doing so – there’s something about running that first mile that can really suck for me sometimes. By mile 4 I started to finally warm up a bit and get into a groove of sorts, and from then on it really became running for and towards those mile markers. I signed up to run with a pace group for the race, but I wound up doing my own thing. The last half I ran wasn’t an overly enjoyable experience, so I just felt as though I needed the space to kinda do my own thing and focus on pushing myself forward. Which is exactly what I did…
Mile…after mile…after mile.
They threw a couple of curve balls at me on the course, namely this nasty bastard of a hill right before mile 7. I don’t know if anyone ran up that thing…it was just cruel. But I did manage to dig deep and power walk my way up that thing (shout out to Beyonce’s “Run the World” for giving me enough ‘tude to push through). By the half way mark I felt a lot better mentally since the second half of the course was the same from last year’s race. There is a certain comfort in familiarity with a route…at least then I know or can gauge how far I have to go before the next mile marker or the end of the race.
The second half of the race was sheer mind over matter. I had very little steam in the engine, but I was dead set on maximizing whatever I had left. I didn’t want to stop, I didn’t want to walk. I just wanted to keep running towards that finish line. By mile 11 I was so happy that the end was near…by the 20K mark I told myself that I needed to pick up the pace a little…and for that last hill leading towards the finish line I let it all out. Whatever energy I had left in me, I put towards finishing and finishing strong.
I didn’t PR in this one, but I’m ok with that because I left everything I had on that course. There wasn’t a moment where I didn’t give it all I had or let me focus slip. I literally did the best that I could do, and I dug deep within myself to push through some of the tougher moments. This was a good start to my running year and an even better start to the string of half marathons I have coming down the line. I hope that during each one I learn something new about myself as a runner and as a half marathoner.
Whoa, did I just call myself a half marathoner? I did!
The next race is in 3 weeks – the Atlantic City April Fool’s Half Marathon. I’m looking forward to the chance to head home for a race along the Boardwalk. The next couple of weeks leading up to the race will consist of me doing some shorter runs mixed with some speedwork drills. I still want to add on some longer distances between now and the Marine Corp Historic Half Marathon, but I’m trying to strike a balance among everything.
Wish me luck! 🙂