This was my 6th half marathon race. Every race I run I am always nervous. Usually my anxiety increases until I feel like I might puke. And this time my anxiety was high, but not that high. Honestly, I had low expectations for this race. I have been sick with a cold and allergies and been running slow this winter too. All in all, I would have been happy with any time under 2 hours. I had resolved not to beat myself up even if my time was over 2 hours.
The morning was cold. In the 30’s and with a piercing wind. My original plan to wear spring weight clothes was scrapped and I broke out my winter gear. I didn’t sleep hardly at all the night before and had nightmares about getting to the start line late. Finally, I was sore from the 30 miles I had already put in over the course of the week. I hurt at the start line.
But there I was. At the start. Lined up in the last wave of half marathon runners, hoping my broke down body didn’t make me into a liar. I had signed up in the last wave, expecting to finish in under 2 hours, and now hoping I could do it.
The first mile all I could think was that my body was moving too slowly as I watched people pull away from me. Then my running app announced my time: 7:58. I better slow down, I thought. Then for the next several miles I trundled along through Peaceful Valley, then Browne’s Addition. I barely registered the historic mansions passing by in my peripheral vision. I was fixated on the ground in front of my feet.
When I got to People’s Park I caught up with the first groups of walkers I would pass. I was able to maintain a good pace and energy through switchbacks leading up to Kendall Yards. At the first turn around point I got to see some of the truly fast runners coming back my way as I went out and they flew back in. At about 8 1/2 miles I felt a flood of adrenaline and endorphins hit my brain and I couldn’t feel my body. It was like I had gone numb for a quarter mile. Then feeling returned and I continued on out to Mission Park. As I was heading out to start the loop around the park, I saw a friend of mine completing his loop on his way back to the finish. Then, after managing to get my fleece hoodie off, and all of my gear back on, I started the final 3 miles of the race.
This is my favorite part. I love seeing people up ahead and passing them. Especially if we have been trading places during the race. I knew the route back in to the finish well since I run this area all the time during my regular runs. I was able to maintain and pick up speed those last few miles. Just after the 13 mile marker I realized I was still holding back and remembered that I didn’t need to anymore. This was it. The finish line. When I crossed it I had a PR of almost 2 minutes and placed 4th in my age group. I was tired but not spent. It was an excellent race.