Just as in life, it is the same with running, some things go as planned and some things don’t. Starting in June, I began training for Harrisburg Half Marathon, that was my goal race. That was the race I spent all my time and energy focusing on for the last 3-4 months. I had a goal of beating the 2 hour mark and that was the race I was going to do it at…….and I did. Just barely lol, I eeked it out in the last two miles with everything I had left in me. It was an amazing race and an incredible accomplishment that I am very proud of.
Then there is this past Sunday…….I’m still reeling from it. I came across the Hanover YMCA Half Marathon a couple of months ago, this is only its 2nd year and it’s a fundraiser for the YMCA’s Livestrong program that helps Cancer survivors get fit and active. It was after Harrisburg and I knew I needed some motivation to keep me running forward, so I decided to sign up for it. With it being such a new race, the number of competitors would be small and I thought I may have a chance at placing in my age group.
I did my usual prep the night before, set out my clothes, packed a bag of everything but the kitchen sink lol, and had a pasta dinner. Since it is fairly close to home, I opted not to stay over down there, so that meant an earlier wake up. I was up and out of the house before 6:30am on the road. The temperature outside wasn’t too bad, warmer than it had been in the last two or three days. The yucky part was the rain. It had been raining for at least three days prior and that morning I woke up to misting rain.
By the time I arrived in Hanover, the mist had stopped but the gray skies were still abounding. The good thing was the lack of rain and the lower temps. As we all lined up for the start, I realized it was a small number of runners, only 168, to be exact. I found a friend who is a part of the Fleet Feet Training program and we decided to run together since we both have about the same pace. I had no major goal/plan for this race, just to go out, have fun and maybe try to place in my age group.
We started out easy, at least that’s how it felt! lol 🙂 I had overheard prior to the start that the first 2-3 miles were hilly and then after that things evened out. That was pretty much the case. The “biggest” hill was in the third mile and after that it was fairly flat or downhill. My slowest mile was that hill (9:09). Around the hill, is when my friend and I grew some distance between us and we eventually separated. The rain held off for the whole race, I felt the best I have in all the times I’ve raced half marathons. Like clockwork, at some point in every race, I have the thought, “This is horrible, I hate this. It hurts. I can’t do this.” That thought NEVER came to me during this race. I really wasn’t looking at my watch either to check on pace or distance. Occasionally, I looked down to see what my splits were and noticed that every time I did look, my splits were in the 8s!!
It really wasn’t until about mile 11 that I realized I was on my way to completely SMASHING the PR I only made three weeks prior!! Here I was running a race for fun and just because, about to finish like a beast! I apologize for the over the top terms, but I’m still shocked. I did say to a friend afterwards that it was completely unexpected and I never thought I could do something like that. His response, ‘I did. I always had the faith you could do it.’ All I could say in return was, ‘I guess I didn’t!’ 🙂
Once I realized this, I pushed myself harder and kept my pace at full throttle until I crossed that finish line. My last mile was 8:18 (which was only 6 seconds slower than my first mile!). Whaaaa??!!?? I crossed the finish line at 1:52.51, my personal best, averaging a 8:35/mile. Something I’ve never done in a race longer than a 10K. I finished 46th out of 168 and placed 5th in my age group. I was super, super stoked. The best part of it all was………I did it alone, I did it all by myself. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved and appreciated the support of my friends and coach during the Harrisburg Half Marathon. Their support and encouragement helped to push me through to the finish. This race was special because I didn’t have anyone cheering me on (other than the volunteers along the course) or helping me through to the finish. All I had was myself and I DID IT! 🙂 It was a nice boost and reminder to myself of what I am capable of. It was also a reminder to not put so much pressure on myself and perhaps I will perform better!?! 🙂 😉