This whole race seemed funny. Weird. Funky. Casual. That is, until I started running it.
It was the first race I’ve ever done where I didn’t know someone else running it. In a way this was a little bit sad, but in another way I kind of liked being able to have my own pre-race routine. I arrived to the race site super early, snagged a great parking space near the porta-potties, and blasted the heat and music in my car until I was ready for my first potty break. I was able to get right in and out and back to my car in less than two minutes.
(See…porta-potties in the background…)
I sat in my warm, warm car for another fifteen minutes and prepared myself for the race. When I attached my timing chip to my shoe I finally felt a surge of excitement when I read what it said. Finally, I started to feel like I was about to race!
I used the porta-potty one last time…this time after waiting in a long, long line…and with much caution since the lady who exited it before me warned me that it was “a little bit wobbly.” Visions of your porta-potties toppling over with you and your pretty new hot pink running jacket is not a pretty picture. Like I said, this race started out funky. Luckily, I squatted very carefully (because no one should put their behinds directly on those seats), distributed my weight evenly, finished my business, then headed over to the start line with no nightmares coming true.
At the start line I found a nice little place to stand and wait while the race director made some last minute comments. The race director seemed like a really sweet guy and he told all the runners to introduce themselves to someone they didn’t know next to them. I shook hands and introduced myself to two older men right next to me. They were very nice, and the three of us spoke briefly on our running history. I promptly and proudly told them that I just ran my first marathon in August.
Of course, they were impressed.
Finally the race director yelled, “Go,” and slowly but surely the racers were off. I, along with my two new male friends, were near the back of the pack so we casually walked forward until the start mats were in our vision.
Since we were near the back, several people had already crossed the mat (duh). Someone’s foot up ahead must have caught the mat, because part of it was rolled over. I noticed this and told myself to be careful as I crossed so that my own foot wouldn’t get caught and cause myself some acrobatics at the start of the race. I finally reached the mat, crossed over it, caught my foot, and stumbled forward with my face only inches from the pavement for approximately fifteen seconds. After regaining my composure, finally, my new friend made sure I was okay and said, “Well that’s not the best way to start a half marathon!”
Like I said, this race started out weird. Funny, though? Not at the time.
Finally I started running for real, not stumbling, and everything fell (no pun intended…I promise) into place.
The first mile was only slightly crowded and I did a little bit of weaving, but nothing to drastic. The temperature was about thirty-one degrees, but I warmed up quite nicely during that first mile.
Mile 1: 8:54
Mile 2: 8:23
Mile 3: 8:24
I was making great time, but I was a little worried that I wouldn’t be able to maintain this pace. My goal was to average under nine minute miles…not run all my miles under nine minutes. But I always just run how I feel. I know this may not be the best method to running long distances, but if I feel good then I like to run fast.
Mile 4: 8:22
Mile 5: 8:36
Mile 6: 8:12
Eight minutes and twelve seconds for mile six?!?! Who was this girl, and can she stick around forever?! Still…the longer I kept this pace the more worried I was getting that I’d hit a wall. However, from approximately miles three through nine I ran right next to this pretty little girl wearing blue. I remember that she had on blue because I thought the color looked so nice next to my bright pink. Running next to my blue girl helped me keep up this pace because I did not want her to beat me. My ultra-competitiveness kicked in, and I knew I couldn’t let up if I wanted to beat her.
Thank you pretty blue girl for making me run fast.
Mile 7: 8:26
Mile 8: 8:49
Mile 9: 8:38
Miles seven through thirteen was an out and back on a paved trail. For the most part the trail was relatively flat, except for a few steep ups and downs. Very steep. Most of the time I despise hills, especially steep hills, but for this course there was always a very nice downhill payoff.
Mile 10: 8:51
Mile 11: 8:48
Mile 12: 8:57
I knew I was going to reach my goal of finishing in under one hour and fifty-five minutes and averaging under nine minute miles. I felt amazing!
Mile 13: 8:24
To make my race a little sweeter, I chicked this very tall and muscular man in the last .1 mile to the finish line. Sorry guy, you’re not beating this girl.
My official stats:
Average pace: 8:37
I blew my goals and expectations out of this world. I guess it makes my stumble at the start a little less embarrassing.
Funny? I guess so.