Last weekend, in a last-minute decision, I got the opportunity to run a wonderful half marathon located just an hour drive north of me in Boston, GA. A marathon that has gone on since 1979! Holy smokes!
Gorgeous weather welcomed us Saturday morning and a cool chill in the air assured me that I just may have a great run with little to no expectations or pressure. It was a nice change from worrying how fast I would be or if I would be able to run the entire 13.1 miles without any walk breaks since I had struggled through the summer. Looking back, I believe that my long, hilly runs the week before had a lot to do with my success on this kinda hilly, mostly flat course.
I was excited to be running with a group of our Moms RUN This Town Mamas, a couple that also decided to join the race at the last-minute on Friday, Chris and Nela and of course Tammy my running partner and co-leader!
As we started out on the course it took us through a short historic part of town then lead us to a long country road with cotton fields and tree farms. Just a gorgeous way to start a Saturday morning long run.
As we hit the half mile mark, and I found myself not paying enough attention to the road, I twisted my ankle. What a start, I thought, but kept on going. As we pushed through to mile 1, Tammy bumped up her speed and I decided to keep my steady pace of a 10:30/mile. That would prove to be a good choice for me.
There were so many happy faces on the course that day and as we hit mile 5 I began to see the Elite runners heading back. HOLY SMOKES they were flying through that course! The good thing was that I knew as runners began to pass me heading back, that would take my mind off of the run and create some conversation.
For this run I decided to go back to my energy go-to option of Sports Beans and I began to eat 2 at a time every mile and a half to keep my energy from waning and at any point during the race. As I pressed on we hit several hilly portions of the course and I had no trouble. It was kinda strange since I often ALWAYS struggle on courses with a little steep topography. I even got to share my sports beans with several runners that inquired about what exactly they were and asked to try them. It also made for some entertainment along the course when we would pass or catch up to one another.
As I hit mile 7, I twisted my ankle for the second time, this time seemed to be worse than the first, but I was able to keep going without any pain. I knew I had to keep going and not walk just in case and no swelling made me think that was a good choice at that point. As I ran on, a nice gentleman ran up beside me and talked me through the next mile asking questions about races in my hometown and also making sure that my ankle was ok. As we pushed through to the end of that mile he said that he was going to take a walk break so I continued to push on.
I approached mile 10, which is generally my “wall” on the long run and also at many past half marathons. I would not let that defeat me so I kept on going, concentrating on keeping my chest and head up and concentrating on my breathing. My legs felt great, it was my mind that was trying to interfere in my finishing this race running.
At mile 11 I could see the last long uphill ahead and it seemed like it would last forever. I told myself, just get to the top and if you need to walk then you can take a 10 second break and then push through. I got to the top and I still felt like I had it in me to finish that last 2 miles running so I pushed on.
As we approached the last half mile there were 2 ladies ahead of me struggling to keep going. I couldn’t allow their conversation of negativity to get into my mind so I mustered the last bit of energy I had and sped up past them as I approached the finish line I saw my wonderful friends that had waited to cheer me on, it was so overwhelming. Seeing those faces at the finish line always makes me fight back tears of excitement.
I saw the clock and I was still under 2:30 which I was so happy with, especially since I had entered this race with no expectations of time. That’s me in the black just under the clock. Thank you to Tammy’s husband Thomas for catching my finish for me.
As we left the race, Tammy and I opted to take a photo by the Boston sign and our hand gestures imitate holding the medal that we would normally get at half marathons. This day though, we needed no medal. Great company, conditions and strong runner legs were all we needed to fill our runner hearts!
This week, on to pushing through my cross-training and training runs to continue to prepare for my next race in a few weeks. Leading up to it I think I’ll keep in mind how not putting that unneeded stress on myself made me feel on Saturday and just concentrate on the right now instead. Making gains in completing the run immediately before me and completing my cardio and strength training. I will continue to work on improving my running pace, but if it takes me longer than I want, that’s totally ok too! Each run, each race, each day . . . one step at a time.