Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Half Marathon #10 and a 5k PR

Well, I figured I'd better write about the Little River Canyon Half Marathon we ran in October before the next one this weekend.  If you read the previous post, you may have deduced I didn't do as well as I'd hoped, and those races are simply not as fun to write about. I tried not to be disappointed by it, and I really did have a good time out there, but for whatever reason it simply wasn't my day.

The beginning of the course was extremely hilly. I ran hard, powering up each hill, trying to hold a good pace. I believed I should be able to tackle them and still keep trucking based on my previous half marathon experience. I may have taken them too hard, though, because after mile 6, when the hilly, forest turned into flat fields, I had a hard time maintaining. I was running with a guy named Tony. He was a cyclist, and this was his first race ever. He had a very smooth, quick cadence, and because he wasn't very tall, it was easy for me to match him. Once we hit the open fields, however, he sped ahead and I couldn't keep him.

We were hit by an insane headwind at this point. I found myself missing the wooded hills, because the wind was so strong, and the open fields seemed lonely for some reason. I was trying to catch Tony and a tall guy he was running near, but the gap kept growing, and the winding road kept them out of my sight much of the time.

I started letting my mind drift away from my tired legs and slowing pace, to the beauty around me. I prayed for Haiti, which had been on my mind quite a bit after hurricane Matthew. I focused on the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other, and on the mile I was currently running. The course eventually took us back into the woods, and it was such a welcome break from the wind, even if there were hills involved.

Around mile 11 a guy caught me and it was nice to see someone. I ran near him the remainder of the way, seeing Jason around mile 12. My legs were tired, but the rest of me felt fine, so I chatted with him about his race until we neared the finish. He had done really well, having a very similar time to his previous half marathon, which I found baffeling because mine was 9 minutes slower!  Nine minutes!

I still won first in my age group and was the third overall female, despite my slower time. Jason, of course, won first over all. The course had been challenging and beautiful, and I'd had a wonderful time with Jason, as usual. We closed out our trip with a visit to Cracker Barrel, enjoying some eggs, bacon and coffee before heading home to hug our urchins. I was a little disappointed, but glad for the experience anyway. It was a good training run, after all.

And that brings me to a much more pleasant story to tell - that of a 5k PR last weekend! Such a pleasant, unexpected surprise!  Jason and I decided at the last minute to run the CASA No Place Like Home 5k, and my sister agreed to watch the kids. It was a chilly, beautiful morning and I had a few friends running the race as well. I was expecting a finish time around 23 minutes - just a nice little speed workout to close out my training week. I'd done a 14 miler the day before, so I was hoping my legs would simply cooperate.

I warmed up a little with my friend Alice, and then lined up to run with our friends, Katie and Megan. The race began and I just ran by feel. I didn't look at my watch, I just followed Katie and Megan, holding on to them as best I could. When my watch beeped at 1 mile, I looked down and was shocked to see 6:57 on the screen. I'd never run a sub 7 before. Never. So I was pretty excited. I didn't look at my watch again until mile 2 and it said 6:54. That was even more exciting. I told myself to HOLD ON. I still had Katie and Megan in my sights, and I was closing in on Megan, although not quickly enough to pass her before the finish. My last mile was a 7:03 as my feet flew around a curve to the finish line, eyes searching the clock to see the time. I was starting to feel a tad nauseous, but I was too excited about the PR to care. I finished in 21:43 - almost a minute faster than my previous 5k PR... 7 years ago!!!

The month of October didn't result in the half marathon time I'd hoped for, but that 5k time made up for it. I'm not really sure what to expect out of this weekend's half marathon, but I'm feeling good about it. I have a whole month's worth of good training under my belt, and the promise of some cooler temps - FINALLY. We will be heading back up to Kentucky to spend time with Jason's parents on their beautiful farm, and run in Bowling Green. I'll let you know how it goes.

Happy Fall!

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