Race day. I love those two words. But, for years, those two words brought me a lot of fear and nerves. You know, it’s the culmination of months of training for a half marathon, into one morning of 13.1 miles. What if I hit an early wall? What if my nutrition is off? What if?
I’ve changed my thinking from ‘what if’ to ‘trust my training’. For months, I have rehearsed this race in my mind. But now, it’s time to take rehearsal, to the “13.1 mile stage”.
Race day happened to be the Mercy Health Seaway Run Half Marathon. As I lined up, the weather was fantastic. It was cool, and somewhat cloud covered. I got to the starting area of the 8:30 pace group, and I was not sure if I was going to race it, or run it. There is a difference. Racing it means going ALL OUT and shooting for a P.R. (personal record). Running it means to enjoy the miles. Take a few pics, enjoy the scenery, not worry too much about time.
I got into the groove of the race and held a steady 8:30 pace for the first mile. It is VERY easy to race Seaway AND enjoy the beauty of the water, and feel the summerbreeze, (sing along) ‘which makes me feel fine’.
By mile 4, I was still on that 8:30 pace. I was thinking, ‘I feel good at this pace’. My half way point, which is by the amazing view of the submarine, I crossed the timing mat at 55:51:93. Wow! If I could hold that pace, I might set a P.R.
As I passed through Pere Marquette Beach, which has a simply amazing view, I didn’t really focus on my time. I took in the breeze off of Lake Michigan, the sound of the water, and the change of footing as I ran on the boardwalk. (Was this Michigan? Yeah baby!!)
At mile 8, I was starting to feel it. I walked through an aid station, got my nutrition and got back at it. The run through the neighborhood provided cheers, a water hose, and much needed shade!
At about mile 10.5, I asked my running friend, Amber, what our total time was. She said 1:30 and change. I remember thinking, ‘if we keep this pace, maybe I will P.R.. That said, I knew we had the challenge of a hill near the 11.5 mile mark. So, I just kept my pace.
At the dreaded hill, I put my head down, leaned into the hill, swung my arms a bit more and tackled it. I maintained my pace and knew I only had about 1.3 miles to go.
I took in one more water from the aid station, and headed for the finish line. As I heard the cheers, I knew my finishing time would be close. ‘I don’t have much more I the tank to push it for the finish’, said Amber. I was gassed too, but when I saw the timing clock, if I was close to my P.R., I was going for it.
With about 100 yards left, I saw the clock. It said 1:51:something. I couldn’t quite make it out. I sprinted to the finish, gave it all I had, and crossed.
As I crossed, I saw my wife, Patty. She was handing out medals to all of the finishers. As I saw her, another great volunteer began to the medal around my neck. “Can I have my wife put my medal around me?” The volunteer smiled, “Oh my gosh, yes!” I turned to Patty. She put the medal around my neck,l as I sunk into her arms. “I’m so proud of you. You ok?”, Patty said. I was good. Just exhausted.
My second half of the race was 55:38, for a total time of 1:51:30. I missed my P.R. by 20 seconds. Ugh!!!!
After collecting my thoughts and realizing I was THAT close, I had nothing to be upset about. I ran my heart out on a beautiful, yet very challenging, Half Marathon.
I gathered my things and headed to Pigeon Hill for the after party. I met up with several runner friends, and, met some new friends, too. It’s funny, with all of the agony and sweat and tired legs, everyone kind of forgets about it at the after party. And let me tell ya, Seaway throws a heck of an after party!
Sweat. Swag. Seaway. That is the beauty of race day!