Monday, April 11, 2016

But what if you fly?

I ran the El Dorado half marathon a little over a week ago. I didn't have great expectations going into it because I had been training for a 50K, but then decided not to do that, and hadn't done much speedwork. I had the fast 5K, but I didn't know how my new speed would translate to a half marathon. I was so scared going into it. I knew I wanted to run it in under 2:20. In the back of my head somewhere, I thought that 2:15 would be really cool. I tried that in September though, and it was a massive failure.

Leading up to the race I came up with a pacing plan. I knew if I had a great day it would work. I was afraid I was going to fail though. I knew how bad going out too fast could blow up on me, and I didn't want that to happen. Race morning I felt pretty good, and the weather was perfect. Sunny, not too windy, and chilly. My mom came with me, so that was exciting. We rode over with Cristy because she was running the 5K. The plan was for her to watch me start, then run her race, then come find me on the course to cheer for me. She was very encouraging when I was nervous. It was a pretty small field of runners, so I thought there was a decent chance they'd all pass me pretty early on and I'd be at the back. That didn't really happen. What happened is that very early on, the field separated into three groups. There were the fast runners out front, then just a few of us in the middle, and then way behind me was another big group. This meant I was running alone most of the race. I think as the race went on people spread out more, but in the beginning it seemed like they were bunched together.

To hit a 2:20 finish, my average pace needed to be 10:41. I wanted to stay between 10:15 and 10:30 for the first 5 miles. Mile 1 was was really fast. Too fast, but I felt good. Mile 2, same story. By mile 3 I could feel that I was going too fast, so I slowed down but stayed within my goal. Same for mile 4. Mile 5 felt great, until the end. I looked ahead and could see the mile 5 sign, and it was partway up a hill. It was a big hill, but I thought surely it wasn't too bad. The problem was that I couldn't see all of it. I think mile 6 was almost completely uphill. Then we turned into the wind, which had picked up. Miles 6-8 were really windy and really hilly, and I hit a low spot. My stomach was cramping, the wind and hills were awful, and every ache and pain I have felt the last few months reappeared. I kept pushing and thought that no matter what, I'm just doing the best I can. I stopped looking at my watch.

At the end of mile 8, we turned and had a nice long downhill. We were also no longer running into the wind. I started perking up. I looked at my watch, realized I had less than 5 miles to go, and that I was on pace for 2:15, and that I felt great. I knew I had suffered through a lot of 5 mile runs, so unless something happened, I was probably going to do it. This is when I thought of a quote I love.

Here it is:

I was still afraid I might fall. I might run one more mile at this pace and blow up and have to walk the rest of the way. Should I keep pushing? What if I fail? Oh, but what if I fly? What if I just give it all I've got, and I succeed? I decided that sink or swim, I was going for it. 

I was almost to mile 10, and turned, and saw a big hill. There were some volunteers there and I said "oh, well that sucks" and they laughed and told me I get to turn halfway up. I got to the turn, and I saw my mom, Cristy, Danielle, and her friend Alyssa. I cried, because it's what I do. I was so happy to see them. I asked Cristy what her time was, and she had killed it, so that pumped me up. I grabbed a gel from Danielle and kept running. I turned around to yell that I was on target to finish in 2:15. I seriously felt like I was flying at that point. I don't think I have ever felt so good in a race. I had gone a little ways when I realize that the girls had been holding up signs, and they had something on their head. I realized it was unicorn horns, but I was thoroughly confused. With the highs come lows, and shortly after I saw them came another crash. I ate a gel, and that perked me up. We also started seeing a lot of crowd support the last few miles. I love it when people set up in their driveways to cheer for runners! It helps so much. My favorite are the little kids that give high 5's. I think I had about 2 miles to go and I saw Mom, Cristy and the girls again. I was getting pretty tired at that point. I finally read the signs and one said "It's a unicorn day." I had posted on my last blog that to hit my goal I needed to have a unicorn day. It was so cute and funny that it cheered me right back up. The other sign said something about donuts. Danielle thinks it's pretty cool that I eat donuts when I run. 

Mile 12 was a struggle, but was ok. Mile 13 was rough. I knew I only had 1 mile to go though, and I needed to push to make it. The last little section of the race was a bit confusing, because they had part of the road blocked off, but the volunteers were directing us to run on sidewalks. Since I was alone I really had no idea what I was supposed to be doing. I wanted to be on the road, but stayed where I was told to be. When I got back close to the finish the sidewalk was full of people, so I went back onto the road. When I tuned the last corner I could see the sign and could see how close I was to 2:15. I feel like I sprinted through here, but it was probably only a jog. In my head I forgot that the race is chip timed and what is on the clock wasn't my real time. I was determined to finish before 2:15! 

I crossed the finish line and looked at my watch, and it said 2:14:47. WOW!! I cried. I hugged my mom. I posed for pictures with the girls and their sign. I felt like I was flying again! I don't know how I did it. I think lifting is helping. I'm running shorter and faster, and man is it fun. I can't keep having huge PR's, but I'll take it while it lasts! 

This was a great race and I would highly recommend it! My only complaints are that the cups of water were tiny and didn't have much in them, and the end was a little confusing. They had so many volunteers though, and it's an excellent course. I'd love to do it again someday. 

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