My "Hilly Half Hustle" came to an end, and the reward was SWEET! I usually have three goals per race, but I only had one this time around...1:50. In the beginning, the goal felt lofty. I really just based it off of a 5k I ran in October. A couple of people even questioned why I would go for that time after having a baby. My response was always some form of "why not?! "
As the weeks went on, and I did more runs with my friends, I was becoming more confident. Doubt started creeping in last week because all of my runs felt so hard (in addition to me being bitten by a dog AND busting my butt on the wet asphalt). After a day of rest and fun enjoying the city of Nashville, I felt refreshed. My body wasn't as sore from falling, and I felt rested (minus the whole sleep aspect! Those darn babies!).
The race was in a suburb of Nashville and didn't start until 10:45. That was actually a perfect time for me. I could sleep a little more, enjoy some coffee, and get ready without rushing. It is so crazy trying to get ready in a hotel room with a toddler and a 4 month old! A parade followed the race start which made for a lot of spectators in the first three miles. After that, it was pretty lonely minus the other runners. I was in a good time range that allowed a lot of my fellow runners to be around me at any given time. I liked that the course had a few turn-around areas in which you could see the runners ahead of you and then the runners behind you. It allowed me to see my friend Joy a couple of times! It also gave me a chance to cheer on the other runners.
I decided the night before I would wear capris, short sleeve shirt, arm warmers, ear warmer, hat and gloves. I wanted the hat to shield the sun (I need some new running sunglasses!!!). I did a two mile warm up and decided it was too hot for the ear warmer. Even though it was in the low 30's, the sun was shining enough to make it feel just right.
Let's talk splits...
I had it in my head that I wanted to average 8:20/mile. I figured that would still give me my 1:50 if the course was a little long (which it was...13.2 miles). I wasn't intentionally trying to start too fast. In fact, I've been a lot better about controlling my pace at the start. I kept remembering what Amanda told me about running MY race and paying no attention to those around me. I felt like I was going an 8:20 pace, but mile 1 beeped in at [7:51]. Oops....that's ok...refocus.
Mile 2 was a gradual incline of approximately 100 feet. I could see it, but didn't feel it. I did intentionally slow down a bit to stick close to my goal pace...[8:23]. The next mile brought us back down 100 feet and gave me my fastest mile at [7:41]. I didn't get mad at myself about it because I knew I had hills ahead of me and wanted to take advantage of any downhill that I had. Legs still feeling good.
Miles 4 and 5 were fairly uneventful and mostly flat. The parade crowd was fading and we were getting onto country roads rather than city streets. The end of mile 5 had a little hill which made the difference in my splits. [8:00, 8:09].
Miles 6-10 were a mix of flat, small hills, and gradual inclines. I don't recall any significant declines to help my cause. It was during this time that I started getting tired. I was good until mile 8 and then I just wanted it to be over with. I spent most of my time trying to figure out why the hell I thought this was a good idea. The good thing was that I never felt lonely. I was always surrounded by runners because we were entering the section of the course with a few turn-arounds. [7:50, 7:51, 8:17, 8:43, 8:21] As you can see, mile 9 was a doozy for me. It was easily the most boring mile. I was also trying to take a gel and will myself up the incline. It was a dumb mile.
Mile 11...holy ish. This was the worst mile in the history of miles. At this point, I conquered the mental part of it. Mile 9 got me down, but I pep talked myself to make it to 10 because I would have only a 5k left to run. Even though I was struggling physically, I had my mind in check to give it my all.
Let's talk about mile 11 [9:09]. Yes, you read that...9:09!!! That's enough to ruin a race plan! This mile was fairly flat the first quarter mile, but it was all up from there. It sucked so bad. I didn't look at my watch. I knew it would mess me up. I just got my ass up that stupid hill and spent that time telling myself I had to make up for it the last two miles. I had no other choice. Fortunately, I had some sub 8 miles to help me out, but I pretended they didn't exist and ran like my goal depended on it.
Also, in that mile, my right calf started cramping. I thought it was my imagination, but it wouldn't stop! I semi-freaked out because I knew there were no more water stops for me to get Gatorade and I had no salt tabs. I mean, who cramps during a half marathon?! Never in my freaking running life has that happened. Halfway through that mile, my foot joined the cramping party. I spent the rest of the race dorsiflexing my foot and extending my toes to help decrease the cramping. UGH. It was the worst.
As promised, I made up for that craptastic mile by pulling out an [8:16] for mile 12. Fortunately, I had a small decline to help me out (but the decline made the cramping increase!). The last mile, of course, was tough. It was an incline, although gradual, I was tired, my cramps were getting worse, and I just wanted it to be over with. I literally gave it all I had left and only managed [8:40]. When I finally spotted the finish line, I developed my running neurological disorder in which I run like a velociraptor. I managed a [7:56] pace for the last 0.20 miles. I really hope they have a picture of that...it felt ugly.
My official time:
I ended up being the 9th overall female and 2nd in my age group.
You guys, I haven't been that proud of a race in a long time. Sure, it's almost 9 minutes more than my PR, but I didn't care! I thought 1:50 was a lofty postpartum goal. I was over the moon happy! It wasn't as much the result as the fact that I literally gave that race all that I had...there's no better feeling!
Thank you to all of my sweet friends who supported me and sent me sweet messages of encouragement! Love y'all!