But running is a funny thing. Even though I've been running a lot of miles since the spring, my goal race for the fall was the Trail Half that I finished two weeks ago. Training for the trail was more about figuring out how to move on the trail, than gaining speed. I still completed a speed workout that I've been going to every Thursday since just before Thanksgiving each week, but I wasn't wholly focused on getting faster.
I was hoping to hit 1:45 or 1:50 in the race today, but that wasn't to be. Unfortunately, if I want to get a lot faster, I need to train to get faster. So I went into the race able to do the distance, but not the time. I ran the first 5 miles at pretty close to the pace I'd need for 1:50 (8:26). I ran the next five at 8:44, and the final 3.1 at 8:56. Total time = 1:52:35 (pace = 8:36), which I do feel great about - even though it didn't meet my ridiculous goal. My legs feel much better today than they did after my first half, and I'm pretty confident I gave the race everything I had in the tank. I feel good about that, too. I had wanted to see if I could go out fast and hold on. Not this time, it turns out. But I'm guessing I'll try it again some time, maybe in a shorter race.
For the first 5 miles, I ran the race saying to myself "Why are you doing this? It wasn't a planned event. You could be sleeping, or preparing to go hiking with the kids and Ed. You waste a lot of time on this sport."
At mile 8, I considered dropping. The race takes two courses at this point - one for people running a 6K (which has a different start than the half) and one for the half marathon. I could cut over onto the 6K course and be out of the race a half hour early. It seemed like a graceful enough way to drop. But my running group was working the aid station at mile 8, and after all they did to lift my spirits, shouting "we have a mother runner" and then cheering, I wasn't going to tell them later I quit. Also, I promised myself there would be no quits this year. But mostly, those cheering moms shut that little voice up inside my head, something I hadn't been able to do on my own.
It was a good moment to remember that running is as much a team sport as an individual sport.
|This is me at mile 8, and my friend Erin handing out water and cheering.|
|This is also me at mile 8, pretending I am feeling fine.|
One thing I did right today was under-dressing. It was 40 degrees at the start of the race. But I was baking by mile 8 of the last two halves, and this time, I at least wasn't hot! Lesson learned on that front.
I'm still trying to decide what my goal for next year will be. I had intended to take another year to qualify for Boston, but 8:36 is exactly the pace I need to qualify for Boston. So if I can figure out how to hold on for twice the distance, maybe next year will be the year.
Many thanks to all of the volunteers at the race. It was glorious to see the sun rise as the race started, running on the GW Parkway was an absolute thrill, and the weather was perfect.
I look like a wreck at the end of the race, but I promise I did not feel as bad as this photo suggests.
It is not lost on me that I was super lucky to get to go home, take a nap, and spend the day tooling around with no real responsibility.