My friend Mandy qualified for the marathon Olympic trials after winning the Wineglass Marathon last year with a time of 2:44. Our running group decided to go down to Houston in January 2012 and watch Mandy in the trials and then we thought we would run the Houston half or full marathon the next day. After doing some research we found out that we either needed a qualifying time or risk our luck in the lottery to get into the race. Dave had already established a qualifying time at the National Half Marathon. Technically I had qualified in DC too, but since I was registered for the full marathon, my distance was considered "incomplete" and my time was not verifiable. Surprisingly, with all the races I've done in the last year, none of them were correct distances and times to get me into Houston. I needed another option.
Dave was running the Capital City Half Marathon as his "A" race and I really, really wanted to just support him and cheer him on from the sideline. When I saw, however, that my training plan had a one hour, 40 minute run on the schedule for last week, I thought, "shoot! I might as well sign up for the race and get my qualifying time." So I did.
Dave had his plan and I, well, I just wanted to get in under 1:54. In fact, I had no plan. I would start slower, pick up pace, and see where the cards fell. My friend and teammate Colleen had plans to break her PR, which would get me in under that 1:54, so I thought maybe I could help her do that. I lined up with her. Dave was lined up just in front of us with the 1:45 pace group. Yes, this half marathon is big enough to have pace groups. The gun went off and I started comfortably. The first mile marker was off so I wasn't really sure how slow or fast we were running. Neither Colleen nor I were wearing a Garmin.
Mile 1 - 7:03
It was obvious we weren't running 7:00s because (1) it felt too easy and (2) we hit the second mile mark in 8:54. Let's average that out and call miles 1 and 2 around an 8:30. Perfect. I couldn't believe how well I felt. I had a great week of workouts last week and things were just going my way. Finally!
Mile 3 - 8:08
Mile 4 - 8:10
Mile 5 - 8:05
I was pacing really well, feeling great, and was hoping Colleen was excited about the pace and knowing this would get her the PR she wanted. But I also heard her breathing and knew she was working harder than me. In my head I was feeling conflicted. I didn't need to run as fast as I was to help her out and I wanted to help her out, but I was also feeling terrific and wanted to see what I could do. When we hit the water stop at mile 5, she told me to go ahead. I wished her good luck, bid her farewell, and continued on my way, picking up the pace as we turned downhill.
Mile 6 - 8:01
And then I felt great. I had planned to keep the 1:45 pace group in my sights so I knew I was going to finish in enough time. By miles 7, though, I was moving right along and the 1:45 pace group was right in front of me.
Mile 7 - 7:57
Mile 8 - 7:48
Miles 8 - 9 were back downtown. The 1:45 group was right in front of me and then it happened. I spotted Dave. He was running right in front of the pace group. I picked up the pace just enough to get in front of the group and tapped Dave on the arm. He said "You're moving well. I'm in trouble if you're feeling this good." Yes, we're a little competitive.
Mile 9 - 8:03
I had no need to try to outshine/outrun Dave. This was his race and I wanted to support him. We ran shoulder to shoulder and sometimes shoulder into shoulder for the next three miles. We were both pushing each other and the pace; both of us still feeling really great. I couldn't believe how great I was feeling!
Mile 10 - 7:54
Mile 11 - 7:51
Mile 12 - 7:52
The last mile started uphill through the judicial district downtown. Having spent many miles by myself, talking to Dave for the last couple of miles had brought about a small stitch in my side. Dave wanted to go for it in the last mile and I just couldn't go with him. That's alright. We would see each other after the race. I pushed and pushed and pushed and finally the race was over.
Last 1.1 miles - 8:08 (7:23 pace)
As it turns out, Dave and I finished within 17 seconds of each other: I ran a 1:43:59 and Dave ran a 1:43:42. I easily got my qualifying time and had a terrific race. Even without a plan, I really ran a perfectly planned race. If I ran a great race, Dave ran the race of his life! He PRed by over 6 minutes. SIX FREAKIN' MINUTES!!!!!! Three cheers for Dave. He has worked so hard to do this. Go tell him good job on his blog. For Colleen, however, she had a tough day and was not happy with how she ran. She could use a little love too. Here's her blog.
Dave and I celebrating!
Colleen, me, and our big-ass medals.
There's some big training and big races in the next several weeks. This past week of training, along with this race, really give me a shot of confidence to tackle the big goals. I can't wait to see what's next.