I've been thinking a LOT about my running the past few days. Some might ask, "Don't you *always* thinks about running?" Well, not really. I have such busy days that half the time I just zoom around like a chicken with my head cut off. Anyway, I really did have high hopes for the half this past weekend. I ran well in the relay; training has been going smoothly, and I'm getting over the bronchitis from Hates. I was also excited about the race because nearly everyone from my running group participates in some way- marathon, half, or relay. Two of my very best friends were running the full, and another speedy friend was running the half, too. All the guys were doing the relay; so we were pretty much ALL going to be there.
Then came the dreaded forecast. Every day it was looking worse and worse. After consulting with coach on Saturday, we decided that I should NOT play aggressively and just try marathon pace. Ha! That would've been nice. Sunday morning came and it was 70* with 95% humidity before the race even started (and the sun was still down). Brad, another Becca, and I had planned to run together for a little while. We talked Saturday night, and Brad was still going to try 6:30-6:40. Becca and I planned to play it safe with marathon pace.
From the gun Becca and I had the lead. Even in the early miles, marathon pace felt tough. And I was so discouraged! I just wanted to have a good race, and this was not working! It was in the early miles that I convinced myself that I sucked and that I was washed up and that I would never PR again. It was also then that I determined that I didn't even care if I won or not or if I even finished the flipping race. Then at Mile 5 we saw the group. They went CRAZY for us. This was also a relay transition area; so it was crowded, especially filled with our friends. I heard someone refer to us as Badass Becca Girls. Haha. I then had a change of heart and convinced myself of the following points.
* Yes, this sucks, but at least it sucks for everyone. Other Becca ran a 1:27 a few weeks ago, and she was struggling, too.
*I still had a very good chance of winning this thing. BUT, I had to forget about my pace and focus more on strategy. The benefit of racing with someone you know is that you know their tendencies. You can pick up on their racing moves.
Here comes the tricky part. In all honestly, I haven't raced for place in a VERY long time. There was an actual transition in my brain for this to occur. In all the races over the past year or so, I raced only myself, only my watch. I didn't care if I got first, second, or third. I totally measured my success on the clock. (Hi, I'm an idiot.) So, back to the race.
Other Becca passed me after the 5 mile marker. I was REALLY feeling the heat, and my pace was barely below 7. I wanted to conserve a little bit and not blow it before the half. I let her go, but kept her in sight. The next few miles I just tried to tell myself to relax and stay even distance behind her. However, as the next 2 miles went by, I caught her again. We ran together Miles 7-9. Then I did some more thinking.
I have no kick. I mean, I seriously have NO finish line kick. Therefore, if I am in a close race, I will LOSE if it comes down to the last two tenths. I decided that I would need to wear her down, if I wanted to win. Her family was at the 9 mile marker, offering us drinks. She slowed to grab something, and I kept going. I decided to go ahead and try to open the gap. My pace had slowed to over 7, but not by much. I passed her, and she didn't try to stay with me. At this point, I had to do enough to keep the gap, but not *too* much and bonk. I cursed the Gulf Coast and its ridiculous weather. Why, or WHY is it this hot in January?????? It is what is, and I'm going to win this dang half, sucky time and all.
So, I plugged on, nothing fancy, just worked the pace back down below 7. I passed a guy that usually beats me by 2 minutes in the 5K, haha. Poor thing had hit Bonk City. I caught up to another guy. He and I worked together all the way to Dauphin Street. At this point, I was pretty sure I had it in the bag. I kicked it in (lol, marathon pace).
I am not one for publicity. I have been quoted in news articles and on t.v. after races and always look/sound like a complete idiot. So when finishing, I basically made a beeline for my car. I had a marathon to pace! I heard them calling my name on the loud speaker, but oh well...
I drove to the 20 mile marker and then had the REAL highlight of the day- helping 2 of my best friends reach the finish line of the marathon. I waited for Sam at the 20 and ran with her for 3 miles. She was in 2nd place. At Mile 23 (where her husband would be filling in), I waited for Speedy Anna. Anna, 3rd place, and I ran together 2 miles until I decided to bail. (I didn't want to steal anyone's thunder or for spectators to think I was finishing the marathon.)
*Side note: This race was especially special for Anna because it was her first marathon "back." She has recovered from an eating disorder, and this is her first marathon in over 2 years. If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you know how special she is to me. She and I have had LOTS of memories- running and friendship. It's been a long and hard road, but she's BACK! I am so proud of her, and it was so special to spend yesterday with her. She's amazing- such a fighter!
I have lots to take away from this race. Coach and I had a talk after the race, and he was able to talk me out of a lot of frustration. I have been putting in the work, and it IS time for payoff. But, like anything else, life is not fair, and we cannot control everything. Each day when we lace up, we can only do what we can do. I am reminded of this so many times in my teaching. I work, work, work and beat my head against the wall to get kids to understand certain concepts. Sometimes they get it and sometimes they don't. It just IS what it IS. Sometimes you're the bird; sometimes you're the windshield. What to do? Keep fighting, keep pushing, keep training. I will take the WIN and hold my head up. I will know that even know it wasn't my best; it was my best for that day. And THAT is all you can do. So, I train on.
Run Happy, friends!