The last race I ran was the Wineglass Half Marathon in early October. The next race I was planning to run was the Red Baron Half Marathon in early November. In the month in between I was focusing on recovering from some minor nagging injuries and getting over a bad cold. So, my running was not what I would have liked it to be. I was already anxious about running Red Baron because I have never run on terrain like (Hills) that for that long of a distance (13.1 miles). I was very concerned about those hills. With the encouragement of my friends at STRC I lead a group run to practice the first 6 miles of the Red Baron course which is where most of the hills lie. After the practice run I felt like the hills were doable for me. I felt a little relief. In the days before the race doubt began to creep in once again. In the time between the two races I never ran anything longer than 8 miles. I was not sure I would be able to sustain my effort for the whole race. Everything about this race was different for me. Different terrain. Different start time. Different needs for pre-race food consumption. It had me very unsure about just about everything. My mind kept cycling between maybe I could PR or maybe this will be my worst half marathon distance run yet.
On race day I was already a step ahead of the game from my pre Wineglass experience as I had remembered my headphones and remembered my battery for my camera, both of which I forgot at Wineglass. When you are a both a runner and a photographer you try to figure out ways to take photos of your races thus the camera and battery. I was at the race venue and feeling good. The weather was great. I was relaxed and able to meet up with some friends, chat, and feel relaxed. I was recruited to take a few photos pre-race by STRC. Thanks Scott. That helped me take my mind of the race. I was ready to go.
As the race started, I began at the back of the field since I had been taking photos. I found this disconcerting for some reason, even though it’s a fine place for the pace I run. For the first several miles I felt pretty good. Maybe too good. I began to think I went out too fast, so I slowed down some and found a friend to run with and talk to for a little while. The hills rolled by. On the largest hill of the bunch it was tougher on me than I would have liked but I did not succumb. I was able to surmount the obstacle without feeling like I gave too much of myself and depleting my reserves.
The second half of the race was what I was hoping would be the fun part for me. It consists of a lot of downhill which I actually enjoy. To my surprise it was not as easy as I would have liked. By miles 7 and 8 I was feeling pretty tired. I could tell I was slowing down already. Maybe I did go out to fast after all. All the second thoughts and doubts were getting to me. By mile ten I was feeling the pain. My hips were tightening up and I was doing anything I could to just try to stretch them out. I would occasionally check my pace and seeing how much I’d slowed down try to push myself for just a little more speed. I didn’t have any left though. As I was crossing the bridge back the school I could barely lift my feet off the ground. I almost started walking, but I knew I was so close, I knew I could make it. I pushed on at a run, however slow at that point. At the bottom of the bridge my friend from earlier in the race that I ran with caught back up to me, as I thought she might. She pushed me and challenged me to give this last stretch all I had. She challenged me to sprint through to the finish, so we did. Or at least I tried.
I didn’t run the race I had hoped for or finish with the time I hoped for. But I also did not run the race I feared or the time I feared.
The race was a great event put on by a great organization and a stellar bunch of volunteers. I had a great time with the challenge and I will be back next year to take it on again.