I can’t recall the last time I was this nervous about racing a half marathon. Usually it is racing a marathon that freaks me out. But Saturday I was freaking out. Race morning could not come soon enough.
Race morning dawned cool and wet. I had triple checked my gear bag and planned out my race day outfit. All good to go, or so I thought.
I awoke before 6:30am and had time to make breakfast, check my gear bag again before I headed to the bus. Shortly after boarding the bus, I realized with horror, that I had forgotten my race bib. I rifled through the bag. No bib. I disembarked the bus. And rifled through the bag again. The rain started to pelt. And I started to panic. I have forgotten many things in my life, but a race bib on race morning is NOT one of them.
So, I called a poor family member at the crack of dawn (no doubt awakening them during a deep slumber) and asked them to drive me home. There, flipped over on my bedroom floor was the bib. Mini crisis averted. At this point, all I wanted to do was to make it to the race.
I arrived to the roundhouse with 35 minutes to go before race time (20 minutes of which was spent in the washroom line up?!). Plenty of familiar faces and racers jammed the community centre. I was wearing shorts, and decided that shorts were was a bad idea. So off came the shorts, and on came the tights.
With less than 10 minute to spare I made my way into the throngs of people crowded into the start area. I started to inch my way up, trying to figure out where to seed myself. When I had jammed my way up as far as I could without starting a riot, I settled in. I just wanted to go. All race strategies had gone out the door.
I knew what my goal pace was. I figured as long as I started slow the first few km, I could ease into around goal pace. The gun went off. It took fifteen seconds for me to cross the start line, and people ran like bats out of hell. No way – although I panicked when I looked and saw a 3:56 second km. Way too fast. I managed to reign it in, and the first few kms were above goal pace.
I soon settled into a rhythm, glancing at the garmin just to make sure I wasn’t deviating too much. Made it through five km in about 23min and 10km in about 46 minutes give or take. I hit half way in about 48 minutes and thought I would settle for a sub 1:38 at best.
Soon, I began to see familar faces. Found people to er, draft off of. I was trying to do math the whole way. Heard my name being yelled several times along the course. Crowd support and volunteers were amazing.
All I kept thinking about was the next mile marker. After about 14-15km, I let myself go. At 18-19km I started to feel a little fatigued so I just focussed on catching the person ahead of me, or at the very least keeping them in sight. Some guy behind me was yelling and high fiving all the volunteers. Gee, if he had that much energy, he should be racing harder. Hah.
Then came the nasty, nasty hill from Beach to Pacific. It was “only” 10 meters, but that late into a race, it hurt. I would not have run as hard, if there hadn’t been a guy next to me that I just couldn’t let beat me. We rounded the corner onto Pacific. I tried not to trip on the orange pylons. He pulled ahead. I could smell the finish line. So I picked up the pace to pass the guy. Rounding the corner, I could make out the finish line, but not the clock I sprinted to the finish line.
Official chip time 1:35:12. A PB from last year’s race by 10 minutes (though I was thinking about the 13 seconds that got away). My “pie in the sky” goal for this race was sub 1:35, but I couldn’t be too unhappy as this is relatively early in the racing season and I’ve not done any formal track work since October.
Part of me couldn’t really believe I had done it. Coming into the race, I was skeptical that I could maintain the pace I did for 21km. My training partners and friends seemed to have more faith in me than I did. Pre -race I’d been asked for my goals, so I said sub 1:40. (But secretly I definitely wanted more than sub -1:40). I received “the look” from a certain someone, so I hastily amended my answer to sub 1:35. Not so secret anymore.
Maybe my original”pie in the sky” goal was not so unattainable and I can set my sights higher for the next race. And I need to learn how to set higher reach goals for myself, and even if I come a little shy of them, it’s better then setting the bar too low.
Gotta dream a little if I want to reach my own potential, whatever that may be.