I know it’s been a long time coming…the actual race recap itself! ‘Twas a good one, friends. ‘Twas a good one. Now that I’ve highlighted everything else from the weekend we can jump right to Sunday early morning. Race morning!
I ended up rocking some new Oakley gear thanks to the wonderful Amanda. She works as an ambassador for them and offered to outfit some of us for the races. I’m down for a) helping out a friend, b) supporting a campaign like Oakley’s Perform Beautifully Campaign, and c) sporting some pink for Breast Cancer Awareness. So, I got brave and wore something new on race day. No worries. It all worked out wonderfully. And I learned for the first time that I really like running in tanks! Thank you Oakley and Amanda!
Back to the race morning….
Instead of catching the 6:15 am shuttle for the 8:30 am start, Katherine graciously offered to drive a group of us over to the race start at 7:30 am. It was perfect timing as we had just enough time to hit up the port-a-potties, gear check our stuff, and make it to the start.
I headed into the start corral for the 8:30 minute pace group with my energy high and my spirits higher.
I reminded myself of my goals – to run a good feeling race and finish happy and strong. I knew that a mental boost for my running and training would mean the most to me from this experience. I didn’t want a PR…I wanted something to set the tone for my upcoming marathon training.
Bart Yasso announced the start, the gun went off, and we slowly made our way across the start line. I think next year a wave start would work a bit better, but this start still went relatively smoothly.
From there, I settled into a steady pace that felt comfortable. I did as planned to “sit back and enjoy the scenery”, if you will.
I wanted to take it all in and bask in the fact that I was running for Runner’s World! In a beautiful town, no less!
The first three miles flew by. When I checked my pace I saw that I had hit a pretty steady 8:40-8:50 minute per mile pace. I didn’t think much of it and kept going along, trusting my body to guide me. The miles continued to fly by…even with the numerous hills. I think the gorgeous scenery of fall foliage along with the cheering, supportive spectators helped the miles to pass quickly and easily.
We even ran through a quaint little neighborhood with the nicest supporters…and Runner’s World editor John Atwood chilling in his driveway cheering everyone on!
At this point we had reached around mile 8-9 and I checked my time again. I could not believe the paces I was holding – about 8:20 – 8:30 minute miles. It even occurred to me that I could possibly come close to a PR on the race! I figured why not see what I can do and truly race the last 4 or so miles. I took a Gu and then started picking things up. I was hitting around 8:00 minute miles and my body kept feeling stronger and stronger. I think getting a high five from Dean Karnazes (ultra marathon icon) along the course helped.
There were a few unexpected hills toward the end, but a lot of downhills too. I could not contain the excitement that coursed through me at finally having a good feeling race. Each mile, although tougher and tougher in a physically demanding way, felt better and better mentally. I was doing this.
It ended up that I had too much time to make-up for over the distance in order to PR (especially with the unexpected hills at the end), but I could care less. I crossed that finish line in a STRONG feeling 1:52:28 – a great deal faster than I expected to do and only 2:20 minutes off my PR.
After battling injury and mental frustration with running a good deal of this year, I had zero complaints about that time. Heck – it felt better than any PR could have because I got what I came for…a strong race and in an even greater atmosphere than I could have expected.
Runner’s World knows how to put on a killer race. They had a stellar course boasting the the kindest volunteers, the best race scenery throughout an entire course that I have ever witnessed, and some of the most energetic spectators who seemed to really want to be there cheering us all along.
The course and after the finish line had ample aid, water, and food. They had music. They had entertainment. They had The Steel Stacks (still neat to look at even after 3 days).
And my favorite part? They had FitFluential in full force. Nothing like crossing the finish line and getting greeted by a ton of your friends.
I now have half marathon #4 in the books…and I don’t know how any future race will ever beat that experience. Whether on your own or through the Runner’s World Challenge (which includes training plans, loads of support from Runner’s World professionals, special race day treatment, and more), if you have the chance to do this race next year – DO IT! You won’t regret it and will likely leave a more inspired person than when you came. It was the experience of a lifetime.
Thank you #RWHalf! I got my mojo BACK!
Your Turn – What do you look for in a race? Have you ever experienced a particular event or moment where you felt your “mojo” return after a hiatus?
Disclaimer: I participated in the Runner’s World Half & Festival weekend as a FitFluential Ambassador. I received a free entry to the race and participation in the events. All opinions expressed are my own.