We moseyed up to the start line with about 15 minutes to spare before the race. As we got in the pack at the start line, I realized how that we lucked out big time with the weather.
It was such perfect temps for running that I didn’t even need my jacket.
This race was smaller than the first half marathon I did, which was kind of intimidating. Everyone walking around seemed like a serious runner with singlets and compression socks.
Even though it was sort of an intense crowd, I still felt pretty good. I considered the race a success already, just because completing the training was an accomplishment to me in itself. So was getting to the start line healthy and injury-free.
After a few minutes of muffled directions, the excited energy burst when we all took off running.
Most people started out pretty fast! But I’ve made that mistake before, and glued my eyes to my garmin so I wouldn’t get caught up in the sprinting.
Being on a home trail that I’d run on before helped make me feel more comfortable as I was reminded of scenery from some of my long runs.
The race was an out-and-back route (marathoners had to run out-and-back twice!) all along the Potomac River.
Running a race in good ole’ DC swampland meant it was a super flat course. Good thing that was in compliance with my always-avoid-running-on-hills rule. The only time there was a increase or decrease in elevation was going over the locks in the canal.
I can’t say enough nice things about the course. Even though it was six and a half miles down and back on the same trail there was enough variation that it kept things interesting.
The first five miles were fabulous. I felt strong and proud as I hit goal pace each consecutive mile that passed. It was fun to do the math in my head of how many second I was putting in the time bank to hit my PR. By the time I hit the 5 mile mark, I was 80 seconds under my goal time.
Another cool thing was that there were two different races goes on: the marathon and the half marathon, all at 3 different time starts (7:00am, 8:00am, and 9:00am.) Someone was always at a different point in a different race along the same path. It made for fun people watching, especially because there was such a variation of runners.
My favorite are always the stand-outs: people that inspire you because of the awe inducing effort that humbles your own, despite how much pain you’re feeling!
You know, like the guy running in the opposite direction at the speed of light in a sling. NBD.
I used these crazies as motivation while I silently counted the mileage to go.
About a mile out of the turn around I spotted my friend Sarah running toward me! That was probably the most energized I got the whole race. Whooping and clumsily high five-ing put a huge grin on my face that lasted to the turn around.
This halfway point was when I snapped back to reality. As far as I had just run down the river – I had to run back.
During miles 7 and 8 I struggled to keep up the pace. My stomach started bothering me a little bit and the grumpiness was beginning to fester. I pretty much gave up my goal time by mile 9. I was experiencing a dangerous combination of self-loathing and sympathy that almost made my brain explode.
I hit the wall, so to speak.
My pace was getting slower, and I couldn’t decide whether to dig deep and go for it, or cut myself some slack and try to gently get through the finish. I think my intent changed about every seven seconds.
Sometimes stubbornness is a good thing. But it can also work in negative bouts like it did in my head during the last few miles of the race. When it became apparent that I wouldn’t be able to hang on to goal pace and keep the GU chomps down, my stubbornness turned into feeling sorry for myself. I dropped down to a limp trot and cursed my body.
Also encouraging was the couple running at the same pace as me the entire race….who were picking up trash. Just runnin’ the same pace as the kind volunteers cleaning up the course.
I consciously decided to accept defeat and get over it by just appreciating myself. I tuned out the voice telling me I wasn’t good enough and just ran the last few miles without looking at my Garmin. You can’t get through something as hard as to running 13.1 miles and be mad at yourself. You have to pat yourself on the back and be proud that you gave it your best.
I think next race I may ditch the self-induced pressure just go zen the entire time.
Sarah’s mom is the nicest and gave our boys lots of goodies to pass along to us. Tuna was waiting at the finish line for me!
Half marathon #2, complete!
Potomac River Run Half Marathon: 2:34:07 (PR)
*please note some race shots are from backprint.com/tonyestradaphotography*