Things never do go quite as they were planned...
This morning, as I climbed out of bed at 3 AM, very diligently trying not to wake the sleeping angel baby, making my way to the kitchen to throw together a quick breakfast for Patrick and I, I had every intention of running the Bidwell Classic Half Marathon alongside two very dear friends...
"Ding!", went my phone to signal me that I had received a text message.
Our friends had spent the better portion of the evening trying to get their little man's 104 degree fever to come down, and though they had made some headway with that, there was just no way they were going to make it to the race...
As bummed as I was that they wouldn't be able to join me, I was also a little petrified. I hadn't mentally prepared to run the half marathon by myself, and I had really just planned on treating it like any other training run (I'm also training with my sister and brother-in-law to run a full marathon in two weeks...gulp). Nice and easy, relaxed, conversational...
We managed to leave town around 4 AM to head south. Olivia made it easy this morning - she fell right back asleep in the car and we only had to stop once to eat and use the bathroom (okay, we made a second stop at Dutch Bros. in Redding, but really, how could we not? - on a side note I joke with my husband that coffee is my pre-workout...it's actually coffee & butter).
A number of thoughts crossed my mind throughout the drive, but they mostly centered around the idea that I had no idea what to expect from the race or from myself at that point. Who was I going to pace? How was I going to distract myself without the conversation from my friends? I really didn't want to "race" a half marathon. I'd only ever raced a 10k, and while I did pretty good with that, this was going to be basically double that distance.
All of the runners kind of fumbled their way to the start line at 8:05, and there I was right in the middle, standing awkwardly by myself, still trying to figure out what the next couple of hours was going to look like. It was windy and cold, and I kind of wished I had bailed...
About 10 steps into the race, and I had sort of a personal revelation: if/when I run a race by myself, then I am going to race it - I just couldn't bring myself to dog it.
So that's what I did, I relaxed into what felt like a pretty swift pace and just focused on passing other runners one at a time, giving myself something to focus on.
I kept thinking about the 10k that I ran last year and how rewarding it was to be this short little girl passing these very fit, very tall men. That sounds kind of demeaning, but I really don't mean it to be. I just never thought I'd actually be any good at running, and when I ran that race I finished with my fastest per mile pace ever (shorter races included) and I won my age division.
I don't know exactly what my time was as I passed the halfway point of the half-marathon, but I am fairly certain that I was under my 10k pace. As stoked as I was, I knew I probably wasn't going to get any faster over the last 6.5 miles, but at that point, I prepared myself for a fight.
I talk to myself big time when I run, and only recently have I realized that I can actually be a huge source of encouragement for myself. I come up with these stupid little mantras (they're actually not really that stupid :P).
"I have no intention of finishing weak..." That was my mantra today.
And i'll-be-darned-it, it got me through (well, that and the chocolate-covered peanut butter Girl Scout cookie that this little girl gave me at mile 9...)
I finished my longest race to date in 1 hour, 45 minutes, and 33 seconds, with an 8:04 pace, and placed 3rd in my age division.
I HATED RUNNING IN HIGH SCHOOL!!! IT WAS THE WORST AND I LITERALLY RAN LIKE A 12 MINUTE PER MILE PACE!!!
So while an 8:04 isn't my fastest pace (7:49), and isn't nearly as impressive-sounding as something under 8 minutes, I was pretty darn pleased with my performance that day.
And as much as I wanted to bail early that morning, I was even more ecstatic that I had chosen to run that race anyway. (Plus, my husband said he was going to make me do it one way or the other, so ya know, total slave-drive that one...). And I look forward to running it again next year, with my friends, and with just as little intention of finishing weak.