Yesterday I ran my 13th Half Marathon.
As soon as I walked out of the house to get in my car, I had a feeling it was going to be a tough day. The last 3 years the weather for the Montgomery Half has been absolutely perfect. A cold front has come through on the very day of the race and made the reward for training through the hot and humid summer that much sweeter.
This year was not the same.
The humidity hung so thick in the air you could literally see it. It was a warm thick mess. The fog was so dense driving to the race that I could barely see ahead of my car.
I met up with all The Usuals about an hour before the race for picture taking and chit-chat. We ran a short warm-up together and then found our places at the starting line. The race was a gun start and a chip finish, so I lined up close to the front as to not lose time getting caught up at the back of the pack.
I know this race course like the back of my hand, having literally run it hundreds of times. I know every incline and decline, every turn, every tangent. I’ve run the race through my mind thinking of where I can push hard and where I needed to hold back. I know that the entire first mile and a half is a steady incline and one of the hardest portions of the race. Thinking through it and knowing all this … I still messed up.
I went out entirely too fast, I ran the first mile in 7:28.
My legs were tight from the beginning, but I held fairly steady for several miles … 7:28, 7:52, 7:38, 7:46, 7:48, 7:43 …
The race course was quiet. There were few spots with cheering stations and the band through Alabama State University at mile 4-ish was amazing as usual, but other than those few spots it was lonely and boring. It has been a very long time since I’ve run a race with my iPod, but I wished I had it yesterday.
I also made the mistake of wearing new shoes to the race. I underestimated the distance, having run 13 miles week after week after week for quite some time now. I had major blisters forming.
At about mile 6, I saw my friend Drew standing at a water station waiting for me. Such a welcomed sight at that point! Of course his presence didn’t help me feel any better physically, but it was definitely a mental boost.
7:49, 8:05, 8:12 …
I have this thing about being whiny. When I start feeling whiny on a run, I honestly don’t want anyone around me. But I really do … I want to bitch and complain, but I don’t want to feel like I’m ruining someone else’s good time because I’m bitching and complaining. Thankfully I think Drew knows this about me. I all but begged him to leave me. I even tried to trick him into leaving me a couple of times so that I could sulk. “I’m not leaving you no matter how much you slow down”.
8:07, 8:23 … One foot in front of the other at this point. Total survival mode. No more “math-ing” out what my finish time could be. Just effing finish.
Finally the amazing Dexter Avenue down hill. … 7:54.
Less than 2 miles to go, caught up with another of The Usuals, Janie. I could tell she was having a tough time as well and fighting hard. … 1 mile to go … another mental boost knowing its almost over. And then it was.
Drew and I finished in 1:44:06 with Janie right behind us at 1:44:09.
I think this picture of Janie and I right as we passed the finish line sums up everything perfectly …
I started to freak out a little shortly after the race … my vision started fading in and out and my right arm seized up where I couldn’t lift it. My head started pounding. It took over an hour of hydrating, taking in salt, Ibuprofen and Tylenol before I started to feel better. Thankfully the headache eventually went away and with it the weird arm pain. I was able to return to the awards ceremony to collect my 1st place Age Group award and spend more time with my friends.
Next up is Sylaward Trail Half Marathon in 2 weeks, which will just be a fun run for me.