Today, my alarm went off at 5:15 am. Suck. After an hour of driving, Head and I arrived at Mackey Arena for packet pickup. Or I should say the no-swag-packet-pickup. This was the inaugural race.
On the ride up we discussed what our goals were for the day. Head was training for the Monumental Marathon in a few weeks. I am and had not been training for anything. Head ran 13 miles a week prior. I ran a 5k 2 weeks ago. I had no idea what my day would bring me. In the past, I’d ran 2:20s, 2:10s, and a sub 2:00 once. We both told each other the congenial “we can run together or you can take off” speech. As you read how my day went, I hope the overwhelming tone of “Just as easily as you can talk yourself out of something, you can talk yourself into keeping going” comes across.
I decided to start in the 8 minute mile slot even though I hadn’t ran a half marathon since 2009. I had only seen the course map this morning. I guess I didn’t really even want to know what I was facing and just wanted to run. But I was aware how hilly the terrain was going to be, so I knew I needed to push early because it was going to be rough at the end (understatement). Off we went! We started on the East side of Ross-Ade Stadium. This mile was about your only good downhill of the day! The rest were very gradual. I had decided that I wanted to stay in the low 8 min mile range and did not want to see a 9 on my watch if at all possible.
The first 5 miles clicked off quickly in the time-elapsed sense. I was only paying attention to my watch at the mile lap marks so I could just run and keep a cadence. I was shocked to see low 8’s on the watch the whole time (except mile 2 which had a gnarly hill) even though I felt like I was running way towards the 9 mark. Head was kind enough to stay with me for the first half of the race, then I was on my own! It was about this time that my hips were getting fatigued and I started to calculate. My PR was a 1:54.51. I was still ahead of that somehow.
Mile 8 was the first time I clocked over a 9 minute mile at 9:01. I justified this against the really fast first mile and promised to not see 9 again. I wasn’t betting on a PR today. It was just a nagging unachievable goal running through my head. The no 9’s worked for the next 2 miles. Then the side stitch came. I was surprised it hadn’t come sooner. I’ve gotten them within running 2 miles before. I was not letting this damn thing stop me at this point. Slowing me down was the only option. It killed me. My only cure for these is to run while clutching it like I’m trying to strangle it. This left me with minimal arm pumping to get me up the last 2 uphill miles of the course. Suck.
I told myself at mile 12, I’d push to the end even to the brink of crawling. Before I hit mile 12, we were directed on to campus. As I played out the rest of course in my head, I started getting jazzed that just thru the Engineering Mall, up the dreaded Ross-Ade hill again, and then I’d be done. Then my excitement was crushed as I saw the runners in front of me take a right turn then head back on to Northwestern. Double suck. Forgot that we were going to finish in a different path then when we started. And Northwestern is a long ass grinding incline. My hips were burning. My stride was down to a pittance. Head got a pic of me using my reserves at the end.
With my (not) blazing speed, he only caught my knee in this shot.
My watch clocked me in a 1:55.12, 21 seconds off my PR from 2008. This picture shows exactly how I felt.
Our last picture as friends, but always my fellow PU alum!
Nah, I was glad Head asked me to do this. It was good for me. As he introduced me to a friend he said “I wanted someone to run with me, so I asked her. She’s always up for a challenge.” Yes, yes I am. I figure that’s my new reasoning behind not training. If I train, where’s the challenge?!
In addition to the memories, we scored a kick ass medal and a sweet dry fit shirt!
GPS map showing our trek around our alma mater.
And, I forgot I helped organize a small race tomorrow morning. Triple suck. Might as well get back out there to burn the burn off!