Towards the end of last week, I decided that I might just try and really run this race. I did no form of tapering or changing my diet but I did skip my Saturday morning ride in favor of resting my legs. Not sure I really did that though as I spent the day running errands and cleaning. I ended the day in a similarly great fashion with Forks over Knives and two glasses of wine.
I woke up an hour before I had to leave the house on Sunday and ate two pieces of kamut toast with butter, one banana, drank some coffee and washed it all down with a G2. It was a hard day to dress for and I went with my fleece-lined running tights and a long-sleeve top. I arrived at the race with 30 minutes or so to spare (they pushed the start back due to traffic and road cleaning) so I did some warm-up laps and found my friends Rich and Steph at the start line.
When they sounded the bullhorn, I took off with the front of the pack. I knew Steph would be with the leaders and in the top of our age group and that I had no chance of staying with her if I wanted to run a smart race. I just went out with the intention of getting my legs moving and seeing how they were feeling that day. And my golly, they were feeling pretty good because I clocked my first mile at 7:34 and about choked in shock. At this point, I realized Rich was right behind me and so we silently and intuitively decided to run the race together and pace one another. That was the smartest decision I made all day.
Running with Rich was a godsend. We talked a bit when we needed to, and I kept us looped in on our pace since I had my Garmin. We pushed up the hills together and closed the gap on our minute man. Our second and third miles also clocked in around 7:40 and then we eased into an average 8:20-40/mile maintenance pace.
The course was familiar and quite scenic. There were a few challenging hills but a couple of nice downhills to make up for those. I actually prefer hilly races though - something about the change in elevation keeps things interesting and challenging for my legs. Only at one point did I really feel my heart rate rise too high for my liking and need to take small step back (a 9:30/mile) and I couldn't believe how I was able to push myself for 13.1 miles, or should I say 21 kilometers since I'm in Canada now.
Rich and I crossed the finish line together at an official time of 1:50.39. That's a 17-minute PR for me and an average of 8:25/mile or 5:15/km.
Overall, I finished in 146th place and in the Top 20 of my (really competitive 30-39) age group. Not outstanding by any means, but quite a personal accomplishment that I was really proud of.
Thinking back even to last year, it's funny how my life and athletic abilities have evolved. I used to sign up for half marathons months in advance and they would seem like such a big deal. And not that this race didn't seem like a big deal, but it was an easy last-minute decision that was basically stress-free.
I also feel that I am learning to race instead of just run. I am competitive out there and I am really enjoying pushing my body. With the help of some amazing friends and training partners that are always pushing me to better my best, I can't wait to see how far (and fast!) I can go.
Am I finally earning the right to call myself a runner?! Up next: a 1:45 half and new 5K & 10K PRs!