With the Krispy Kreme Challenge successfully completed & my love for donuts still intact, its time to get back to some serious training and the next goal on the training schedule. When I ran my last half in February, I rolled with a pace group the whole way, chatting and taking in the scenes, and finished right on target at 2:15. Typically, I roll with pace groups when I enter longer races. I enjoy not having to look at my watch, chatting with others in the same wave, and getting tips from the pace leader. In a race with 500+ people, there are plenty of great stories and fun individuals to help entertain myself until the finish line.
Well, the Hooters half made that decision easy by advertising pace groups, then not providing any on the morning of the race. So, with my new GPS watch strapped on I set out with a goal of just taking it mile by mile and seeing what the clock said when I finished. Fort Myers had some great sights along the course, including a out and back climb over a Gulf bridge, huge houses along the coast and a decent number of spectators. By mile 11, I had kept a pretty good pace the whole time and knew I was well on my way to a new personal record. So with a mile or so to go, I briefly considered taking a walk break. But I hadn’t stopped the entire race and thought, I’ve ran longer races than this and after all that running so far, why not just finish strong now? The one thing that jumped out in my mind was a rule I taught my niece when we’d run 5ks. She’s only 12 and really only likes Halloween races, but I always tell her that no matter how fast we run the race, the most important thing is finishing strong. As soon as we’re nearing the finish, or if we can see or hear the crowd, its time to go, no more rest until we cross the finish line, and that stuck with me so I just kept going. Once you can fix your eyes on the finish line, its over, the rest is gravy, it’s a victory stroll. I’d end up finishing the half in 2:02, a new personal record by about 7 minutes. Now had I walked a minute or two, my time would have reflected that and while anything under 2:09 would’ve been a new PR, when I say 2:02, it feels a whole lot better knowing how I got it done. I really feel like that mental victory down the stretch will help pay dividends in the near future. I can’t remember the last time I felt so good after a race, and it wasn’t all due to the free beer and Hooters’ hot wings.
While I recently read that its not healthy to schedule a lot of races during your training, its a little late to go back on my plan, so we’re off to the Walgreens Half Marathon in Miami this weekend. Technically, this will be my fifth organized race in the last 14 weeks and I can’t honestly say I’m displeased by the way my training has been going. Like I mentioned in an earlier post, I really struggle with getting after my training runs and I still think this is the best plan for me. I haven’t ran the Walgreens half before, so this will be interesting, however, I fully expect that running in the shadows of Joe Robbie Stadium will provide me with some extra fuel and propel me to a great time. The park where I train in Pasco County is about a half mile from my house. So I tend to just use that half mile to warm up, stretch out and then really get into it. Over the last couple years, I’ve gotten to know an older man who walks, sometimes runs, in the park in the wee hours of the morning. We’ve passed each other countless times out there, always chatting or joking bout other walkers, the weather or the cute runner girl that I can never keep up with to strike up a chat. When I’d miss a day, my man would get on me about it, which always made me not want to skip a day. If I didn’t see him in the park, he’ll give me a shout from his garage as I ran home, just to say what’s up. Well, when I ran my last marathon in December, I took a couple weeks off and hadn’t seen the guy since, going on 4 months. Luckily, he saw me running this week and pulled his car over to chat. Turns out he was fine, but he lost his wife in December and is having a terrible time with it and hasn’t been out on the trail since. We chatted and he said he’d be back, not sure when though. It was a little tough to finish my run that day and after that, I decided I was going to go out and run a great race with him and his family on my mind. I think we sometimes take for granted that we are blessed to have strong bodies and minds that can do some pretty cool things when pushed, and I’ve been reminding myself that each morning when I want to just roll over and go back to bed instead of lacing them up for a run.