I woke up at 5am to a gorgeous day. I made my prerace oatmeal (oats and hot water), grabbed my already packed bag and headed out to pick up my friend Trevor who was running his first half marathon to celebrate his 25th birthday. The two of us drove the 20 miles to Fairfield, where my car was left at the train station and we were bussed to the beach. We met some familiar faces at the Fleet Feet tent and I walked along the beach to warm up and then waited on a 25 minute bathroom line. I ran into my friend Ryan and then the three of us headed over the start. We were split up men and women to make the 5000 person start a little less overwhelming, but I snuck in with the men. After running the same 13.1 mile race the previous year in 90 degree weather with humidity like I had ever experienced, I was confident I could beat my time. As the gun went off and we trudged through the crowd, I asked Ryan for a race strategy hoping to calm some internal butterflies. His joke was actually quite soothing, “left foot, right foot, left foot right foot”. Okay, I could do that! Ryan pulled ahead and after a few minutes of running with Trevor he informed me of our race pace according to his Garmin watch. I hate knowing my pace so I pulled ahead to speed it up and avoid any future slips on his part. I was feeling good but I was struggling to find a balance (of course!) between wanting that faster time but not at the expense of feeling awful. I kept telling myself to enjoy the race. I wasn’t about to break any records so it wasn’t worth pushing past my limit, feeling like puking and being sore for the week. (plus I had a date that night that I wanted to be functioning for). Instead of a GPS watch I wore my $20 ten year old sports watch from Target. AKA my lucky race watch. The race started at 8:15 so I checked my watch every few miles to make sure I wasn’t doing something crazy. I liked the method of listening to your body. I pushed hard on the hills because I felt I could and then slowed down on some straightaways. The Fairfield-ians, all outside their homes cheering us on helped me during some of the low points. Distance running is a funny thing. You fluctuate from feeling like there is no other purpose in the world than doing this thing right here, right now…to….I hate running, I’m never doing this again, I want to die. And then everything in between. Clearly the highs outweigh the lows because somehow most people don’t stop after just one race.
As I hit the 10 mile mark I knew I could break my 1:54 PR. I was hoping to break 1:50, but didn’t want to push way beyond my comfort zone. I sped up to what felt like 7 minute miles for the last 15 minutes and crossed the finish line at 1:50:17. So close. Yes, had I known I was only off by 18 seconds I would have pushed the last .3 miles. But that’s the beauty of not wearing a GPS watch, I got to the final stretch, recover quickly and enjoy my day!