Last weekend I ran my first race in almost two months. It wasn’t that I wanted to avoid races. However, races haven’t happened near me. They have gotten canceled due to storms or just don’t exist. Or the limited that have occurred haven’t fit in my schedule.
Last weekend, I drove to visit my parents. I knew the Distance Series was happening, but I decided to play it by ear. I’ve run several before, however, not in the last few years. When I lived in VA, I was a member of Tidewater Striders…now I just call myself a Satelite Strider.
I decided if the weather was decent (above 10), I would sign up. As the days drew closer, the weather was looking amazing. It was dreamy.
My dad and I got to the race a lot earlier than we anticipated. We found ourselves at Fort Monroe a solid 75 minutes before race start. I had no plans to do a warm-up and was able to catch up with friends the entire time. I rarely do a warmup before half marathons, and since 15 miles was my longest run in a while, I didn’t find it necessary. I was just going to use the first few miles to warm up.
At 8:55, racers made our way to the start. There was both a 10 miler and a 15 miler. I chose the 15 miler. Even though 15 miles would be my longest run in over a year and my longest race since my marathon 3 years ago. I thought it would be a good challenge for me. I had no goals and told anyone who asked it was a half marathon with a bonus round. I had zero clue how the race would go. I knew I was in decent shape, but how decent was the question.
The course itself is 3 loops around Fort Monroe. If the weather is ideal (like it was when we raced), then it’s beautiful. If there is a lot of wind, then it can be extremely unpleasant. If you asked me to race there in the 20s and a windy day, I would laugh. I might get blown into the River. You would never escape the wind since you are running the outer loop of an island. Luckily, the weather was ideal.
I started the race in a large pack consisting of myself, legend Steve, good friend Andrew, and a couple of other local runners. All of them had workouts, and my goal was to finish strong. I knew based on their respected plans, I wouldn’t have people to run with the entire time, but I was going to make the best of the pack while it lasted.
Ultimately we ran the first four miles together. We were talking, catching up and hanging out. Let it be known this is probably the only time I will “hang out” with those guys, as Steve is tapering for the Rocky Racoon and Andrew is getting ready for another marathon. I’ll take it. The miles went 6:50, 6:46, 6:42, and 6:46. They felt effortless, and by the time I knew it, Steve and Andrew said they were going into their workout.
The other woman and I left the pack. She was doing running the 10 miler and doing a marathon paced workout. She asked if I wanted to join her and I said sure. We ran a 6:36, 6:38, and 6:46 mile. I could tell I was beginning to get antsy and I was raring to go.
So I kicked it into the next gear. I hit mile 8 in 6:33 and felt good. I was surprised and thought, today is the day you need. I ran mile 9 in 6:29 and mile 10 in 6:33. At mile 10 they directed 10 Milers to the finish, and I went into lap 3.
I chuckled to myself because I’ve done a few workouts in my neighborhood doing several laps around the same loop. My 70-year neighbors comment “it’s like watching “real life Nascar” and that’s how I felt.
Between mile 10-11, I began passing people who were on a previous lap. There was some weaving but nothing unmanageable and I thrive off of seeing other runners. I ran mile 10 in 6:31 and mile 11 in 6:25. I couldn’t believe how good I felt.
At mile 12, I grabbed Gatorade and told myself 3 more miles. I knew after 13.1 anything could happen. The half is the longest distance I’ve raced in several years. I’ve run 14 miles in the last few months but not 15 and no races above 13.1. I just hoped I would continue to feel good. I tried to remind myself it’s unnecessary to run 26.2 miles while training for a marathon and this was the same mentality.
I hit the half around 1:27. I felt strong, and I also felt weird. The last half I ran, the Philadelphia Half marathon I ran in 1:27.57. I felt like utter garbage and even stopped. Granted I was coming off food poisoning. At 13.1 at the Distance Series, I felt like a million bucks and I was excited.
I passed a few friends on their second loop and gave a couple of high fives. I reminded myself, you now have less than 12 minutes. You can do it. For some reason, when I feel as though I have 12 minutes left in a race, I tend to get over whatever mid miles mental block I have.
I focused on the guy in front of me who was about 30 seconds ahead. I wanted so badly to catch him. In 2017, I gave up a lot of races because I didn’t have a kick or energy towards the finish. I wanted to start 2018 racing with a new year, new me mentality.
I began cranking, and I ran mile 14 in 6:33. There was a little cross breeze. The final mile faces the finish line. You can see the building in the distance although it doesn’t feel as though it ever gets much closer.
I just ran. I ran as hard as my legs would turn over. I didn’t waste extra energy. I put all of the energy towards the forward motion of what I was there to do. I passed a lot of people on their second loop as well as the guy I had. Even watching. My last mile was my fastest by far, and I ran a 6:06.
I crossed the finish as the first woman in 1:39.45 and 6:34 overall pace. I was extremely pleased. I hadn’t expected to feel that good, but I have no complaints. It feels good to start 2018 on a good racing foot. I feel as though I gained a lot of my running confidence back. A couple people have asked but I am not training for a marathon. It was fun to get out of my comfort zone for a longer race and I felt good doing it, but there is a lot more running, training, and commitment involved with a marathon.
Questions for you:
What is the longest race distance you’ve run?
What are some fun “nontraditional” distances you’ve run?