I never sleep well the night before races. I think it's a mix of nerves and paranoia that I'll somehow sleep through my two alarms so I was awake long before my planned 5:30 wakeup. I immediately started my pre-race ritual of making coffee and having a small breakfast (an English muffin with pb), took a hot shower, and spent some time on the foam roller.
Getting dressed proved to be a challenge as well. The weather report said the temperature at 8am would be 38 degrees with a wind out of the north at 16mph. Yikes! I had been planning on running in shorts and a long sleeve but decided to whip on my tights at the last minute. I am SO glad I did!
I went to the race by myself since it was miserably cold and the course wasn't very conducive to spectators anyway. I parked a few blocks away and did a slow jog to the start area. There were a lot of people milling about so I put on my race number, found the bathrooms to take my last-minute nervous poop, stripped off my sweats, checked my bag, and found my way to the starting line. The MN Pacers were there and I saw the groups for 1:50 and 1:45. I really wanted to run with the 1:45 group and go for a PR but since I wasn't feeling that great and the weather conditions were sub-par, I settled in near the 1:50 group.
Soon enough we were running. The guy leading our pace team was all about talking to the group (e.g. "When I say mile, you say one! Mile! etc, etc). I knew about a mile and a half into it that there was no way I could listen to this the whole time and set my eyes on the next pace group in the distance.
Mile 1: 8:16
Mile 2: 8:14
As I began to pull away, Pacer Guy of course had to comment on it. "It's still early and some of you are starting to pull away! We have a lot of race left!" That only pushed me on. Already my hip was starting to hurt and I began to worry how I would get through the next 11 miles. Should I slow down and stick with Pacer Guy? Should I quit now?
I had a conversation with a friend of mine the night before who said "There are always a million reasons not to do something." Right now there were a million reasons for me to stop and I knew it. I also knew it was decision time: I resolved right then and there to not worry about the next mile and just concentrate on the one I was on. Don't think, just run became my mantra and whenever I started to worry about what was coming, I repeated this to myself.
Mile 3: 7:57
Mile 4: 7:57
The course moved out of New Prague and into the country and its rolling hills. Around mile 4 we turned to head south and the wind was finally at our backs. There were a few gradual climbs but what goes up must come down. I did my best to keep a steady effort on the inclines and use gravity to my advantage on the downhills. The most substantial drop came right after the half-way point and I used it to my full advantage. However, we had also changed direction again and I was being sideswiped by the wind which posed an interesting challenge.
Mile 5: 7:51
Mile 6: 7:45
Mile 7: 7:41
There was some much needed crowd support at Mile 8 and I also ate two Clif Shot Bloks.
Mile 8: 7:50
Mile 9: 7:49
We again turned another corner and this time we were running straight into the wind. My hip pain had sort of leveled off to a constant dull ache and with the wind working against me, I didn't know how I was going to finish at the pace I was keeping. I knew that the next few miles would be mostly mental and that if I could just get to Mile 11, adrenaline would take over and I'd finish. So I started to think about what I always think about when things get hard: Joel. Since he spent so much of his life in a hospital bed, he didn't develop physically like other kids his age. He did learn to crawl and walk but it was much harder for him. I thought about the nights that I spent next to him on a cot in his room, when he would wake up and say "Na, ow. Rub." and point to his legs. ("Na" is what he called me.)
Mile 10: 7:48
Mile 11: 7:42
I ended up catching the 1:45 pace group right around mile 11. I told the pacer that I'd been trying to catch up with them the entire race. "Well keep going!" he told me. So I did.
Mile 12: 7:46
At the 12 mile marker there was a pretty decent downhill that brought us back into the city of New Prague. I wanted to leave everything out there on there on the course. So I ran. Hard. My legs were screaming, my hip felt like it was going to pop out of the socket, but I ran.
Mile 13: 7:06
Last .1: 6:13 (what?!)
And that was it. They cut my chip off my shoe and I chatted with some people I knew at the finish line. And then I tried to walk. It hurt. Bad.
So since Saturday, I have not run a step. I've biked, taken ibuprofen and arnica, iced, foam rolled, rested, compressed and walk around my house in this:
Awkward icing situation
Average pace: 7:49
Official Results: 1:42:15
Officially crushed my previous half marathon time of 1:51:40 that I ran at the OBX half last November.