Oh were to begin………
Let’s talk logistics first. This was, hands down, the best race course I have ever run. Beautiful course. Lots of changes in direction to keep things fresh and new. A few bridge crossings to mix things up with a little elevation (a rare treat at flat sea level Virginia Beach). Perfect size. It sells out at 5000. Great start/finish line. It was so nice that the convention center was open before the start so we could use their bathrooms. Easy parking right by the start/finish line. I will run this race every year if I can.
And now the good stuff…..
I PR’d. I PR’d. I PR’d. by six minutes and thirty-five seconds. And I broke 2:15. Did you hear me? I did it! I broke 2:15. And I did it with a smile on my face all the way up until mile 9. I can not even begin to tell you (but I suspect you already know) how good it feels for everything to come together the way I had hoped. All my summer training, all the hot long summer runs where 11 minute miles felt hard, my 2:35 half-marathon five weeks ago, it all finally paid off today.
I woke up this morning at 5am to stumble through my morning routine. I had hoped for a better night sleep, but I know better. Good nights of sleep are far and few between in our household (if they exist at all). Chet was up at 11:15, 2:45, and 5:45am. In spite of my lack of sleep, I woke up ready to run. A blueberry muffin and a banana later, my friends picked me up and we were off to the start line. We got to the race around 7:00am, one hour prior to race start. The convention center was open, so we were able to use the bathroom inside. Considering it was SO COLD outside. And raining. And Windy. This was a nice treat.
At 8:00am corral 1 was off. We were a few minutes behind them in Corral 3 (yes. I snuck up a corral to avoid being in the walkers corral and to start with Heidi.).
The first few miles were all about warming up and settling into the run.
Mile 1: 10:28
Mile 2: 10:06
Mile 3: 10:10
Heidi and I were running together, and although we settled into a comfortable silence between the two of us, it was so nice to not run solo. Because of the weather (and perhaps since this was the first year for the run), spectator support was hard to find. There were very few people out on the course. It was also very quiet.
One of my goals for this race was to ignore my garmin. I set it to just show mileage, but when it beeps to signify the completion of a mile, the pace will pop up for a few seconds. At mile 2, I am guilty of looking down. I wanted a reference point. I was feeling great. I felt like I was running, but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t too comfortable. When I saw 10:06, I was thrilled. I also reminded myself that I did not want the number determining how I ran. I made a mental note of how I was feeling, worked hard at holding on to that feeling, and didn’t look at my watch again until Mile 8.
Mile 4: 10:23
Mile 5: 10:18
Mile 6: 10:37
I started the race off with a long sleeve layer on top of my tank top. Mile 5 was my checkpoint to allow myself to take it off. So much of running is mental. I try to set tiny milestones along the course to keep me motivation. Mile 5 was designated as shed a layer of clothing checkpoint. It felt amazing to take it off. I had anticipated seeing Christian at mile 6 to hand of my jacket, but he was no were in sight. Heidi and I kept on running.
Mile 7: 10:49
Mile 8: 10:16
Mile 9: 10:23
At the next water stop, Heidi needed a moment to apply ointment to her knee that had been giving her grief. I took this as an oppurtunity to text Christian. I didn’t want him coming out to cheer me on in the rain and missing me. I let know we our mile marker.
As we made the turn after the water stop, the Chesapeake Bay opened up in front of us. It was beautiful. We had a completely unobstructed view of the bay for the next few miles. It was gorgeous. I lost count of how many times I said to Heidi how pretty the course was.
These miles were may favorite miles of the whole race. It felt so good to be at mile 7, mile 8, and mile 9 feeling good. We laughed. We high-fived the few people we saw. We sang along with the local radio station. We cheered with the band. At this point, I knew I would PR. I had no idea of my overall time, but I knew I was going sub 2:20.
Mile 10: 10:16
This was my toughest mental mile. I really wanted to get to 10. I wanted to get to the point where we could say “only a 5k left”. Thank goodness for running partners. I think I may have crumbled a little if Heidi hadn’t been running by my side. My hips started to ache. I could feel a clicking in my knee. I just wanted to get to double digits.
Mile 11: 10:25
This mile felt tough too, but I really felt like I was running fast. When I looked at my watch to check out our pace, I was slightly disappointed to see 10:25. That disappointment lasted for a few seconds. I reminded myself that a number did not define my success in the race. I felt strong. I felt fast. Mission accomplished.
At mile 11, the 2:15 pacer caught up to Heidi and I as we said hello to Christian again. I knew they started in the corral behind me. Based on this information, I guessed we were running a 2:17/2:18 half marathon. I was okay with that. As we settled in behind the pace group, my legs wanted more so we quickly passed them and kept running.
Mile 12: 9:53
Mile 13: 9:32
Final Stretch: 8:30 pace
Somewhere between mile 11 and mile 12, I lost Heidi. She was next to me, and then she was gone. As much as I wanted us to finish together, I knew I had to keep running. I needed to run my race. I had two miles to go. I can run 2 miles. At mile 12.5, I saw Christian again. He gave me a few words of encouragement (Get your ass moving!) and a sweet smile. I ran. I ran hard. I ran until my stomach started to hurt. As soon as I passed Christian, I felt like I was out of steam. I kept reminding myself that I did not just run 12.5 miles to slow down now. Run. Run. Run. Run fast. Finish strong. As I made the final turn to the finish line, I knew I gave it my all on the course. I wanted to fall over, or throw up, or never move again.
As ran under the finish line and hit stop on my garmin, I didn’t care what my watch said. I just ran my perfect race for that day. I loved every single second on the course.
After collecting my medal, my water, a banana, and many other snacks, I looked at my watch.
13.16 miles. 2:14:49. (10:15 pace)
Sub 2:15 (but close). I wanted to celebrate, but I wanted official results. Did I really break 2:15? Did I really meet my best case scenario goal?
After sharing a beer (or two) and a bowl of soup with Christian and Heidi – while shivering under a tent because it was now pouring and freezing – Christian and I head home. Official results posted while I was taking a nice hot shower.
Official time. 2:14:45 (10:17 pace)
I might have a smile on my face all week!
Other fun race superlatives:
My run included my fast 10k post-baby! The last 6.2 miles of the race!!!
My fastest mile was the last mile of the race!
Out of 2240 woman, I was 671.
In my age group, I finished 94th out of 232.
Although I plan on enjoying this race success, I already know I can find more in me. Next goal: a half-marathon with an overall pace of 9:xx.