I didn’t PR and I was fighting a cold, but this might have been my most sucessful race yet. As always, race prep began two nights before.
With my fiancé out of town – camping and biking up 7,000 miles of elevation, nbd – I had the quiet house to myself. But that Friday at work, I started feeling the beginning of a cold. My body felt achy, my throat thick, and my brain kind of out of it. I started taking cold medicine as soon as I got home, then drew a bath with calming salts, poured champagne, lit at least 8 candles, and read a book of poetry with my cat perched on the side of the tub. It was beyond therapeutic. I made sure my Garmin watch was charging, set my alarm for 6:30am, and got to bed early-ish.
The next morning, the day before the race, I left the house at 7am on a Saturday to shop the Oiselle Warehouse Sale with a friend and happily scored some of their coveted bird-logo run gear.
Afterwards, I took a nap, (still fighting the cold) then I went to see Wonder Woman with another friend. I was home by 6:30pm, finished my Trader Joe’s ravioli dinner by 7:30pm, and was in bed by 8:30pm. My fiancé made it back home just in time to tell me goodnight. In record timing, I was passed out by 9pm.
Thanks to the cold medicine, I slept the whole night through – a rarity – until the alarm woke us at 5am. Waking up at such an ungodly hour was by far the worst part. I will definitely be more careful of start times when I sign up for the next race. A 6:30am start time for a half-marathon was excessive, but the Rock N Roll franchise has grown into a monster and there was nearly 26,000 people lining up at the start. I downed some yogurt, skipped the toast which I’m pretty sure is still in the toaster a day later (thanks, babe), drank some water, did some quick yoga, and we were out the door right on time at 5:45am. We had about a half hour drive to the start, and luckily found a lone porta-potty on the way so I was able to avoid the crazy lines. After that quick stop, Eric dropped me off and I jogged a quarter mile to the start just as they were firing the gun. I gave up trying to make it up to my corral and just squeezed in where I could. We all stood around like cattle for a good 30 minutes until it was our turn to start running. Just as I crossed the starting line, I was super happy to see Eric and his bike waiting and cheering me on!
I started off at a moderate 9:38 pace and, by mile 3, gradually worked down to 9 minutes. In spite of my cold and previous injuries, which seemed to be healed before the race, I was feeling pretty good. The weather was perfect and the course was beautiful as we ran through the arboretum and along Lake Washington. Bands stationed every couple of miles spurred us along in our own movie soundtrack. There were a few hills but this was where I shined, telling myself “You were made for this” as I engaged my glutes and power up the hills.
Over the course, I thought about a lot of things. Even thought I had to “downgrade,” I was really excited to be running and challenging myself. The course was beautiful, taking us through the arboretum and along Lake Washington. I loved running past Team Blue with their American flags by the lake and couldn’t resist tearing up over all the young men and women lost to war. Since I’d just watched Wonder Woman who’s storyline overlapped with WWII, it wasn’t hard to imagine the devastating heartbreak. But I tried to stay in the moment and feel more gratitude than sorrow. Those soldiers were being remembered and that’s what they deserved more than anything.
“Don’t think, just run!” A Oiselle volunteer encouraged us from the sidelines. I took that mantra and kept it with me for the next 5 miles when I could feel my body beginning to fatigue.
At mile 10, a familiar clicking sound announced the arrival of Eric on his bike. He was video-ing me from the side and cheering me on. He told me I was running 9:17s, which buoyed me. I definitely felt much slower! It was just the boost I needed for those final 3 miles. Even though I could just imagine my white blood cells fighting the cold virus, I stayed optimistic. I was almost done. I took more water at the aid station and gave myself an extra Gu for the last two miles. My last mile clocked in (in spite of the hill at mile 13) at 8:50.
It wasn’t easy, but I wouldn’t have enjoyed it otherwise. For the first time, I achieved negative splits, and I didn’t suffer too much. I learned that this distance was perfect is perfect for me to challenge myself while still enjoying the run itself. Wonder Woman and Wolverine may be my heroes, but running also made me become my own superhero. Half marathon number 5 is in the books and I’m already looking forward to number 6 this Fall.