This weekend I ran my first half marathon of the year, the Flower City Half. I love this particular course because it runs through the neighborhood I grew up in and I think the course does a fine job of showing off my old stomping grounds…actually, my current stomping grounds as well. I haven’t gone far, apparently.
The start is only about an mile from my front door so I ran downtown, met up with some running friends, used the facilities and lined up. Going into this year I had been planning to run this one fast (maybe even aim for a 1:45) but I’ve been doing my long runs at a leisurely 11:00 pace and I wasn’t feeling it. I headed to the back of the pack and glanced around. I didn’t know anybody.
Half an hour into the race the first rainstorm swept through. I ran faster.
Having done this course before, I knew there were big hills in the middle and purposefully held back, or tried to. But as the course pushed over the hills and into the relatively flat portions in Mt Hope Cemetery (it’s not weird, it’s a great place to run!) I realized I had more gas in my legs.
So I went faster. I was under 8:00 for most of mile 9, and as I reached the final miles into the finish the rain came back. Hard.
My glasses fogged over, I was soaked through. I ran faster. I put in my headphones to drown out my misery and it worked! I felt tired but also oddly indestructible. I fell into a rhythm I knew well. I knew the course, I knew my pace. I passed a few friends and shouted out hellos but this rain was still coming and I wanted to be done. And I was enjoying the pace. I came into the chute, waved to my wife, and sprinted (not a fast sprint, but I did take it up a notch) into the finish. And was done.
The rest of the day was a bit of a fog of napping, hot showers and eating. Sitting here the morning after and looking back on the race, I realize it was a potent reminder to run your own race. I could have run faster earlier, I suppose, but I knew I didn’t have the speed yet. I finished strong and felt good afterwards. What else can I ask for?
I am gonna run that 1:45 though.