I bet you though I was never going to get around to talking about it, huh? This week has been all kinds of crazy, and I just now had the chance to sit down and write out my thoughts on my last half-marathon.
Months ago our little town was abuzz with the news that we would be hosting the first annual Vike Hike Half-Marathon. Our local junior college (they’re the Vikings!) was the main sponsor, and everyone was really excited about it. In the last few years, we have developed quite a running community for a town so small so the opportunity to have a half in our own backyard was a pretty big deal.
I honestly did not give this race much thought in the beginning. I knew that the Cowtown half was the first one I would be running so all of my time, energy, and focus was spent on that. The Vike Hike was just a concept in the back of my head.
I spent a few weeks after the Cowtown riding the high of having completed my first ever half-marathon, and I still wasn’t thinking too much about my next one. As I came down off that high and really turned my attention to the race, I suddenly found myself the victim of some serious mental games.
It started with two less than stellar long runs that made me begin to doubt my abilities. ”Maybe finishing the first one was just a fluke?” ”Besides that was a pretty flat course. The Vike Hike won’t be that way.” ”Half the fun of running these races is going and see new things. I’ll be looking at the same stuff I see everyday!” These were just a few of the gems I had running through my head, but I managed to push them all to the back of my mind largely due to a very busy week before the race!
Before I knew it, the alarm was going off Saturday morning. Despite the 7 AM start time, I didn’t have to get up too early since the start line was two miles away. Gotta love local races for that reason alone!
Dad had driven up for the race, and we decided to jog those two miles as a warm-up. We covered the distance easily, and made it to the race site with about twenty minutes to spare. I spent that time chatting with a ton of people I know. It really felt like one big party, and it was especially exciting because this was the first half for so many people.
The gun went off right at 7 o’clock, and we took off down a short hill. Dad is much faster than me so I told him he didn’t have to worry about staying with me on this race. I saw him look behind him a few times in the first couple hundred yards, and I waved at him to go ahead.
I didn’t have to worry about running alone though. I spotted my running buddy, Jessica, and I fell into pace beside her.
The first part of the course wound us around the cemetery, through a stoplight, and up on to the highway that bypasses town. They had shut down the entire northbound lane for the race so luckily we didn’t have to worry about traffic.
This was the part of the race I was concerned about. The course had us running four miles down and then four miles back on a road that is extremely hilly. It is up and down the whole way, and most of them are fairly steep.
Despite my worries, I felt great through the turn around. My legs felt strong and, once we made the turn, Jessica and I spent the next two miles giving high fives and cheers to the other people we knew along the way.
Around mile 7, my feet began to hurt it what felt like a repeat of the Cowtown race. On a side note, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m wearing the wrong shoes, but that’s another post for another time.
I began to concentrate hard on my foot strike ensuring that I didn’t get lazy and begin landing on my heels. I knew if I did that, knee pain wouldn’t be far behind.
We left the bypass at mile eight and ran back toward the college. From mile ten through the finish, the course was the old familiar 5K route, and around this time Jess and I realized that we were on course for a PR if we could keep it up.
These were the leaders. The top guy finished in 1:22!
At that point, the race became a complete mental game, and I’m so thankful I had a partner to encourage me along the way. We took turns picking each other up when we felt the other flagging, and those three miles flew by relatively quickly.
We entered the college oval that would take us to the finish line. Jessica saw the clock first, and yelled that we were going to make it under 2:13. I was starting to gas out just a bit, but she told me to step it up because we were crossing together! Sure enough we both finished with a time of 2:12:40 which was good enough for a PR!
John, Dad, and a ton of friends were waiting at the finish line. Dad finished in 1:58-I told you he was fast! I had actually seen John several times during the race. He was able to drive around town pretty quickly, and catch me at several different points. He’s responsible for all the great photos!
This ended up being a really great race, and my worries unfounded. I’m already looking forward to next year!
Do you psych yourself out for races? Does anyone really LIKE hills?