This Sunday was the Flower City Half Marathon, and the Friday before the weather finally broke out into spring. Everyone hear in Rochester got up, looked outside, started crying because they thought an asteroid was coming to wipe out all life, then remembered what the Sun looks like and calmed down. A little. The sun came out, birds started singing and hope returned to our hearts. Naturally, the idea occurred to me:”…maybe I should run the half.”
I have been training for a PR at the Ithaca Gorges Half Marathon but the speed training has been going well and I thought, “It would be a good test run.” I turned to a running buddy the week before the race and floated the idea. Surely good sense would prevail! I was just getting ahead of myself.
“You should do it!”, she said. And that was all I needed (wanted) to hear.
The “oh shit…” settled in two days before the race. I was going to run a sub-1:45 half marathon about six weeks ahead of my training schedule. What could go wrong? I did have reasons to be optimistic. I had run a 1:48 on the course a few years ago, when I wasn’t as well trained. I was familiar with the course, the weather would be perfect and my 5K times indicated I was capable. On the other hand, there was the soul-crushing thought of failing, getting hurt and embarrassing myself in front of thousands of people.
The morning before I wrote my pace times on my hand. Like many runners I go out to fast, so I aimed to run just over my goal pace for the first three miles, on pace for the next 8-9 and then hammer the last mile.
I did not look at my hand again.
At the start I lined up near the front and tried to look fast. Everyone else sure did. I bounced lightly in place and dry-washed my hands like a panicky praying mantis.
Let me start at the end. I made my PR. I strolled over the finish line at just under one hour and forty-five minutes. When I say strolled, I mean ambled. I had nothing left, no final kick, no last sprint. I was fucking finished.
As you can see from the above splits, I ran fairly evenly. The first three miles got away from me a bit but I was able to hold on late in the race. I am particularly proud of miles 8 through eleven because that section comes after the big hill, the steep hill, the cobblestone hill and the cemetery hill have beat runners up and kicked them to the edge of the Genessee River Path like rag dolls on Gatorade.
I was aching by mile five, hurting by mile seven and the last two were just awful. But I pushed through by lying to myself: “You’ve got this. You are in control.”
Two connections to Endure: (1) swishing your mouth with energy drinks really helps! I don’t like most energy drinks…well, I don’t like any energy drinks. But researchers have found that just swishing carb and sugar rich drinks around in your mouth for 10 seconds tricks the body into thinking energy is on the way. Results: energy boost with no cramping or vomiting. (2) I know I went to my absolute limit because I had no kick. And that’s pretty cool, actually. I didn’t know my own limits.