I knew there would come a day when I wouldn't reach a new PR while working with Coach. Today was that day.
Being a marathoner, as I'm sure with all endurance sports, is weird. You train for months and months for one event, putting all eggs in one basket. My training for this half marathon was awesome. I put tons of energy and effort into my training, hitting paces I had never had before, and was ready to set a new PR. But three weeks ago I got sick and I'm still coughing a ton even though I feel pretty good. I missed some good training during that time and it was well know, though unspoken, that I wasn't 100% for this race. But due to my wedding schedule, this was really the only half marathon I could run. Plus with a price of $20 it couldn't be beat.
Dave used to never attend my races, but since I got him into triathlon last year he hasn't missed one of my races. I've gotten used to him being there. He's on vacation with his dad and brother right now so when I showed up at the race course this morning I was already feeling a little off. I wondered who was going to hold my racing shoes while I warmed up? Who would take pictures? Who would cheer me on? I wound up warming up in my racing flats and leaving everything else in my car. No pictures, sorry. And I was my own cheerleader by wearing my iPod for the first (and hopefully last) time in a race.
I started out just right in the first mile--7:13--but at the end of that mile I developed a stitch under my ribs that would not go away. It stayed around for 4 miles. I sped up; I slowed down; I changed my breathing patterns; I stretched my hands above my head; and finally I had to walk to finally get it gone. This was the first of many walks during the day.
By the end of mile 4 things were going so poorly that I actually thought about dropping out at the half way point. I thought about what I would say to Coach and Dave and knew that I could just slow down and gut it out. Plus, I missed the turn to get back to the beginning.
The race spotlighted organ and tissue donation and had a huge contingent of hundreds of people whose lives had been affected by donation. The race also featured a 5K in addition to the half marathon. Unlike most races that start the shorter race just a few minutes after the longer race, this race started the 5K 45 minutes after the half marathon. Here's the bad part: the half marathon is a two loop course that shares the course with the 5K. So, do the math...I came through the half way point around 45-50 minutes, which means I was right in the mix of all the 5K walkers. I weaved and got myself up to the sidewalk to avoid all the walkers. When the 5Kers got to their first water stop, around 7-1/2 miles for me, I ran smack into the back of some dude. I yelled at him to move. Come on! Finally I reached their turn-around and then I was all alone. There was no one behind me and no one in front of me. This is when things got dark.
My head kept yelling GO GO GO but my body just wouldn't move. People would catch me, pass me, and leave me in the dust. I did math in my head thinking I could go 8:00/miles and still make 1:40. I just wanted to be done. At the second turn I tried to count thinking I was in the top 10-15 women. Things got so bad I even walked at the 12 mile mark. Seriously, Meredith, there's one mile left.
Finally I made it up that last hill and chugged my way past the walkers again and up to the finish holding off the girl behind me.
Final time (unofficially)--1:41:51
According to my previous races, this is my third best time by one whole second. Up until this past February I would have been ecstatic with this time, but because I had worked so hard and knew I could get a new PR, I have to admit I'm disappointed. I know people would give their right arm for a 1:41 half marathon but I'm just not satisfied. After talking to Coach and realizing what I should have been able to run had I been healthy I was even more disappointed. The facts are the weather sucked (it was in the 70s with like 85% humidity--summer has finally come to the Midwest) and I just wasn't 100%. And those two combined to the perfect storm. Let's be honest I'm a much better runner than I was a year ago. Working with Coach and do all my training by myself has allowed me to focus fully on me and my goals. Had this race happened a few weeks early I would have crushed my PR. And that PR will come. Now it's time to look towards October and the Nike Women's Marathon.