For over a year now, I’ve had this goal. This scary yet attainable goal that I KNEW I could reach and surpass for the half marathon. A sub-1:40. I’d take 1:39:59. A 7:30ish pace for 13.1 miles. I KNEW I had it in me. I didn’t take my eyes off of this goal. for OVER A YEAR. For hundreds and hundreds of days, six days out of the week, EVERY. WEEK. I have stayed focused.
FOR HUNDREDS AND HUNDREDS OF DAYS! I woke up at 4:30 am, even 3:30 am! Whatever I had to do. I went to bed early, ate well, ran through 110 degree Texas summers, drank copious amounts of water to recover, did my cross training, stretched when I didn’t want to, overcame an injury with tedious exercises that seemed useless at times – I literally came back to running ONE minute at a time!… I. Stuck. With it. One day off. Every week. Running a consistent 40-50 miles per week. Every. Week.
I knew it was paying off! Just last week, I ran a 5K PR – 21:08 (6:44 min/mile average)!
I never considered myself a “fast” runner. Yes, I ran the 400 meters in High School in 60 seconds and change. Even then, I never thought I was fast. Lucky, maybe? I don’t know. I REALLY never thought – at least if you were to ask me 5 years ago – that I would run THIRTEEN MILES holding a pace in the 7’s. No way. No way!!
And here I am. I am still daydreaming about yesterday’s race… the Dallas Running Club Half Marathon on the morning of Sunday, November 4th, 2018…
At 6:00 am I get off of a school bus that shuttled runners to the Start line. It was still dark. Excitement was in the air. It was a chilly morning. Cold, really. I will admit – I got there (extra) early and may have huddled in a porta-potty for a silly amount of time to be in a pota-potty just for warmth. I was saved by the fact that I remembered my mittens! (Lucky mittens, of course).
It was getting close to Start time (finally!) and I do my usual dynamic warm-up while trying not to run into anyone. Everyone huddles towards the Start.
I see that there are Pacers holding up their little signs with how fast they’re going so I look for my group – 1:40. It was almost at the very front of the Start line! I felt like some sort of celebrity starting that close to the front, surrounded by all these lean men with brightly colored shoes who look like really strong athletes.
POP! The gun goes off!
I was in the front of the pack… staying stride in stride with these incredibly strong (and bouncy!) guys… each and every stride in sync for a whole 10+ miles, running shoulder to shoulder. I felt strong. Part of the pack! I felt unstoppable. I was focused. Relaxed. I felt weightless…
Then… Around mile 11 my mental “calm” broke with about the last hill I thought I could handle (it was a hilly course). “Last hill!” our amazing pacer assured us. “Stay relaxed going up. Looking strong! Stay left to follow the tangent!” He says. I was relaxed and right ahead of the pacer (ALMOST!) the entire 13.1 miles. It was mile 11… that last hill that got me. It broke my focus. I was, at this point, surprised and relieved hat I made it that far before it happened! I just told myself the hard part is here, so it can’t get worse. THIS is the part that counts.
Suddenly my legs were tired and all I could think about was stopping. Thankfully, I knew my friends would be cheering around mile 11 so I just focused on staying in the game until then. If they take pictures, I should at least look as strong as I did the first 11 miles, right? You’re strong. Keep going… Shut up, legs!!
I took it one. mile. at. a. time. Keeping my pace group in sight, I just kept a strong stride and tried really hard to tell myself that I felt good. My mind just wasn’t the same those last few miles. I had to dig deep (I truly learned what “dig deep” meant during training). I thought I blew it until I look down at my watch to see that I was still holding a pace in the 7’s (how?? I didn’t argue with the Garmin!!). With just one mile to go, there was no going back. No giving up. And I’m so glad I stuck it out… I can’t explain the feeling when I saw 1:39:42 on that watch.
This was truly a morning and experience that I will never forget. In the end it’s not about the numbers, it’s about that feeling. That unexplainable feeling…
- Mile one: 7:28
- Mile two: 7:22
- Mile three: 7:20
- Mile four: 7:25
- Mile five: 7:33
- Mile six: 7:31
- Mile seven: 7:36
- Mile eight: 7:26
- Mile nine: 7:44
- Mile ten: 7:40
- Mile eleven: 7:49
- Mile twelve: 7:59
- Mile thirteen: 8:00
- Mile point one: 6:59
13.12 miles @ 7:36 [1:39:42]
Second in Age Group
Tenth overall Female
THANK YOU, thank you, THANK YOU, Lifelong Endurance for sticking with me through it all and for making this magical day possible. Thank YOU, as well, for your encouragement and support.
This was a huge mental breakthrough for me.
And you know what? After ALL THIS. You may wonder, what now? You may think that I’d wonder that, too. Not a bit. It truly is the journey, not the destination. I LOVE every minute of it. I am more determined than ever and won’t stop now.
Great things to come!