So it's been a while since my last blog post, but it's also been a while since my last race (New Year's Eve, to be exact). So, 11+ weeks after my last race, I took to the streets of Virgnia Beach for the Yuengling Shamrock Half Marathon.
The morning started out ominously; 21 mph winds howling out of the northeast. When I checked the weather forecast on Friday night, it said that it would be 45 at the 7 AM race start. They nailed that exactly, but didn't mention that the wind chill would be around 33. I had only brought shorts, a long sleeved tech shirt, and a tee, so that's what I had to go with. I was shivering in the corral waiting for the race to start, but once we got underway, it was manageable.
My plan was to run about a 9:30 pace for the first 5 miles; speed up to a 9:20 pace for the next 5, then judge where I was and how I felt before I tackled the final 3.1 miles. I started out right, about a 9:30 pace in the first mile as I navigated slower runners. I sped up to about a 9:22 in mile 2, just running easy. Mile 3, still not breathing hard, and ran a 9:05. Mile 4, easy, 9 minutes. Mile 5 I ran an easy 8:58, so my pace for the first 5 miles was 9:06 - way faster than my plan, but I wasn't even breathing heavily; it was a very easy run to that point.
From miles 6 to 10, I was still running comfortably, and I hit the 10-mile mark in 1:31:03, still around a 9:07 pace, so I was running very steadily, and not breathing excessively hard. Hill training for 11 weeks was paying off on this flat course. Breaking 2 hours was becoming a distinct possibility.
By mile 11, though, I was starting to feel it, but I was also feeling the possibility of breaking 2 hours, an elusive goal of mine since I started running 2 1/2 years ago. I eased up slightly before mile 12 to conserve some energy. When I hit the 12 mile marker, I started pushing it, and that's also when I began to feel it in my legs. We made the turn on to the promenade/boardwalk, and there it was: the finish chute, within eyesight. I found myself right behind the 2:00 pace runners, but passed them anyway.
As I approached my hotel, I knew I was only 3 blocks from the finish line. It seemed like an eternity trying to reach the mat, but I did, crossing in 1:59:09, achieving my goal with 51 seconds to spare. I can't describe the feeling I had when I looked at my Garmin and saw those numbers.
I beat myself up for the good portion of 11 weeks getting ready for this race; my body is very sore, not from the race, but from the training. I'm going to shelve doing any more half marathons for the time being, to give myself time to recover. I'll stick with 10K's and 10-milers for now.
And for all the soreness and weather and traffic driving home and whatever else I put up with this weekend, in the end, it was all well worth it.