I wanted to badly to write this Sunday to post yesterday, but I am serious when I say I slept most of the day after I got home from the race and lunch. I. Was. Exhausted.
Sunday morning, I was up very early, 4am to be exact, to get ready for half marathon #6. I had a hard time falling asleep Saturday night, so I’m not sure I got more than 5 hours of sleep. I was tired, but excited and ready to go. After training for 14 weeks and realizing the last few weeks if training that a new PR was possible, I just wanted to get out there and run!
I ran this same race in 2012, it was my second half marathon and just weeks after sciatica and physical therapy, I walked / ran my worst race to date. I was just happy to up and moving and even completing it was a huge accomplishment. I was very close to my highest weight and felt every one of those extra pounds. My average pace last year was 16:34 with a finish time of 03:37:11. (Looking at these pictures, I wonder who this person even was!!)
Back in March, I PR’d at the Sarasota Half with a time of 02:48:12, my first time finishing under 3 hours. Once I had that new PR, I started to dream of finishing in 02:30, but it really was just a dream. But running consistently this year, and following a 14-week training plan seemed like the best shot I had at getting there.
At 7:00am the race started, and I was in Corral 5. It was 7:08 when I crossed over the start line and started my Garmin (a miracle I remembered but thankful I did!). I started running right from the start and did my best to hold back. Something about running a race with so many other people, even when you aren’t competing, that makes you run a little faster. It must be the adrenaline!
I was excited to get to Mile 1 because I knew that the Best Damn Race Cheer Squad would be there. They were awesome. I passed them and kept on running. This is a beautiful course that goes along the water and through Coffee Pot Bayou and a beautiful neighborhood, brick roads and all. Just after Mile 3, I heard someone yell my name and it was my friend Val, and she even made me a sign. It was so nice and it really pushed me. I had been behind the 02:30 pace group for about a mile and decided I needed to be ahead of them. I felt that if I was going to reach that goal of 02:30, I needed to be ahead of the game while I felt good because I was sure that by Mile 9 or 10, I would slow down. I needed that buffer. I kept an eye over my shoulder to see if they were catching up to me and they did not. I didn’t see them again!
Mille 7 took me back past the Best Damn Race Cheer Squad. They were still screaming and cheering and being super awesome. Green guys, a wiener, great signs, and the UT guy’s swim team. Too much fun!
(Photo credit: Best Damn Race)
When I passed by them at Mile 7, my friend Caroline who was part of the cheer squad, captured this photo of me. I’m glad to see I was so happy to be running still. I actually felt very good. And once again, having people scream your name and cheer you on really pushes you to keep going. Thanks guys!
(photo credit: Caroline)
From this point, the course took us through down town, around Mirror Lake, and then a long stretch west. I was trying my hardest to hit Mile 10 well before the 2 hour mark – and I did – because I knew even at my slowest, I could do the last 3 miles and still finish in 02:30. It seemed like we ran forever before before the turn around just before mile 11. From here, it was almost all down hill. This was a great way to finish because it was 26 blocks of running towards the second to last turn before the finish line.
Once I hit Mile 12 and saw my time was 02:12ish, I knew I had it, and then some. And that’s when the tears started flowing. I was so excited and once again the adrenaline kicked in. This is obvious in my split times for the last mile which I picked up the pace on.
When I turned the last corner and headed the last little bit to the finish line, I was so happy. I knew I had it. I was still crying and I was trying to watch for my mom, who I knew was at the finish line. I screamed when I crossed the finish line. I did it. I met my goal!
My watch time was 02:23:43, but I was curious to know what my chip time was. Thanks to live runner tracking, I found out that it was 02:31:28. I was disappointed when I saw this, because I thought for sure I beat my goal and I thought my watch was wrong. After looking over the split times, I realized they had my start time wrong, showing at 7:00 right when it started, but I crossed the start line at 7:08. So, I have requested a correction. This time was too important to me to let is slide… I calculate that my finish time should be 02:23:38.
My split times were AMAZING. Better than I really ever could have imagined. I knew during the whole race that I had to stay below an 11:27 / mile pace to finish in 02:30. I kept it under that the entire time and my average pace was an incredible 10:49.
Such a great race and an awesome day. I had so much fun, ran with all my heart, and enjoyed every minute of it. Reaching a goal after 14 weeks of training is a huge accomplishment. Once again, I am reminded how strong running has made me and how much I want to continue to do it.
And here is it… the corrected times. I am so thankful that Women’s Running Series corrected these!
Remember that time I ran this race last year? 03:37:11? It’s crazy to think I did the same race 01:14 minutes faster. Crazy! And still 25 minutes faster than my previous PR.
After the race, hubby and my mom and I headed to Hooters for my favorite post-race meal – wings and beer! Boy, did I earn that! It was delicious and amazing. Our waitress was super impressed by the fact that I finished my 6th half marathon and made sure to let me know….
What a day! It’s definitely one I won’t soon forget. So what’s next? I have 4 half marathons planned for the spring to get me up to #10. I will keep running regularly between now and the next one, which is the Best Damn Race Safety Harbor on Feb. 1, 2014…. Is a new PR possible? We’ll have to wait and see!