I ran my fourth half marathon. Two last year, two this year (and a half half, six wee miles, wearing a bib that wasn’t mine – sorry Rock N’ Sole). I’ve got my first full in about a month (oh, country theme, I cannot wait), so it goes without saying that’s what I’ve been focusing on.
I was bummed about this race, though. My PR, from the Door County Half this past May, is 1:56:33. I was hoping to pound that time into the ground with my increased endurance and overall awesomeness (since I’d already logged my 19-miler the week before). Such was not the case. 1:57:42.
I know it’s still a good time, and I know I should be pleased that I kept it under two hours, especially since I started way slower than I usually do in races. My running buddy, Nicky, has the pace watch, but she didn’t run the Brewers Half. And my other buddy, Ali, who ran it with me, doesn’t have a pace watch, and neither do I. So we started with the 2:10 group, not realizing that meant 10-minute miles. Not thinking we wanted to finish with an average pace of about 8:30 miles. Which meant hauling some serious ass to try to catch up to where we needed to be to get the time we wanted.
It was less than pleasant. But not impossible. In the past I struggled to keep up with my running cohorts after mile six, not necessarily because they are in better shape than me, but maybe because they’re more adept at running, built better for it, wanted it more. Who knows? In the past we started out faster, maybe too fast, and maybe that’s why I wound up lagging behind (no more than a few minutes, but still, every single second in a race counts). This time was too easy, and I think we knew it. By the time we hit mile five there was no real sense of fatigue, so I knew we were in target-time trouble.
Then we took off. And although I don’t know exactly how fast we were going, I do know that we overtook the 2:05 pacer, with our sights still set on the 2:00 pacer (whom we didn’t find until right at the end). My legs were independent of my body by mile 12. I wanted to slow down, wanted to stop, wanted to barf, but I didn’t. Ali makes it look so easy, you can never tell if she’s tired (which she probably isn’t. Bitch). So I tried my damndest to keep up with her. I wasn’t going to lose her. Not this time.
The wind turned in on us as we turned into the parking lot. An array of unpleasantries entered my mind and numerous guttural sounds escaped my throat. I was pissed. Nothing irritates me more than wind on race day. We had suffered a 30-minute start delay thanks to an early morning thunderstorm, I had had to send my boyfriend back home after dropping us off in the rain to fetch my ipod and some extra layers, my ipod was dying. And now wind? At the very end? Were we being tested? Punished? Was Mother Nature playing games? If I wasn’t concerned with time, or the general appeal of public, human decency, I would have stopped right there and had the full blown hissy fit I was concealing so well under my breath as I prayed to everything holy it would just. end. already. Sometimes the weather’s a real C U Next Tuesday.
It inevitably did end, and we didn’t face plant, didn’t poop our pants, didn’t break anything, didn’t hurt ourselves or anybody else, didn’t collapse. I’d say, disappointing time and all, it was a success. Minus the shit weather, slow start and rain delay…
The route was good – we ran around the Harley Davidson Museum’s parking lot, down through Miller Valley, high fived some sausages along the way, enjoyed some live tunes here and there, finished it strong running on the field of Miller Park (well, foul ball territory, but holy crap, is that what it’s like to be on the field, cheered on by so many people?!). Then got a free, frosty beer we justly enjoyed. In the security and warmth of the car.
Our spectator, my amazing and supportive bf (who gets up at 5am for every race without complaint, drives us, fetches things we need last minute, runs, yes, runs, from point A to point B just to make sure he can wave to us and catch a photo opp, and tells me how awesome I am each and every time I finish) held his head high as he trudged who-knows-how-many miles to see us three times throughout the race. I am so thankful for him.
Ali’s hubs couldn’t make it/didn’t want to come. When we talked about it over our 20-miler yesterday (ah!), Ali told Nicky and I how upset she gets that her husband isn’t always as supportive as she’d like. The three of us agreed that most people don’t really get the magnitude of running. The training, the stress, the fatigue, the hours and hours and hours spent researching, working out, running. It’s not just another hobby, not just another way to improve your body or blow off steam. It’s a commitment. It takes immense dedication and discipline to set a goal (such as a half or full marathon, or even a 5k) and see to it you succeed. High fives all around to any and everyone who has ever run anything. Ever. For real. You rock.
So, we had a good time at this race. And that’s all that really matters. And we will for sure have fun at the next. Cowboy hats and cowbells, here we come.