No need to have set my alarm – the cats woke me up around 4:15am. The 1.45 power hour of hydration, coffee, hydration, fuel went off without a hitch. I felt a slight ache in my left thigh/hip, but I knew that I would finish, no matter what. Even if I didn’t make my goal time or needed to walk – I was there to enjoy the morning, complete my third half-marathon, and then relax into the remainder of the weekend.
We arrived at 6:30am for the 7am start time. Aaron, my beloved sherpa, waiting with me in the ridiculous line to use the facilities. Made our way over to the start line – you know the drill: announcements, clapping and then – we are off!
My first mile was good but below my ideal pace: closer to 8:20 – 8:30 (I was wearing a watch but apparently after not training with one, I have no idea how to use such advanced technology.) Around the two-mile mark, I was approaching a woman wearing her phone on her arm, and her running program announced her pace: 8:06 minutes/mile. Hmmmm…I liked it! So, I asked her: “Do you mind if I run with you?” She did not, and we continued to run silently next each other for the next couple of miles. Eventually, we chatted a bit, enough to get to know each other’s name (Charlotte), where we lived (Clayton; recently moved from Indianpolis); the weather (holy cow it was humid!) and our training. But, for the most part, we kept each other accountable with our bodies, moving fairly effortlessly in motion next to each other through miles five, six, seven.
One of the potential drawbacks from pacing with someone: our pace began to increase. We were pulling out 7:50 min/miles in the center, which both of us at the end realized could have been our downfall. Fortunately, we kept ourselves motivated. By the time we hit the Raleigh Greenway system around mile eight, we were feeling the slight grades more, feeling the final few miles ahead of us more in our muscles, minds.
I ended up shifting up from Charlotte around mile 9, focusing back on my internal processes: how was my body feeling? How was my left thigh feeling? Was I hungry? Was I thirsty? WHY IS IT SO HUMID? [It did cool off a bit once we hit the Greenway section.]
Then, at mile 12, there was a hill. By that point, it seemed as steep as Mt. Everest. Cheered on by a familiar face (thanks Kevin!), I ascended the hill, huffing and puffing (channeling my inner Al Buehler as well), and cranked out the final 1.1 miles. I checked my watch and saw that if I wanted to beat the 1:45:00 mark, I had 90 seconds to achieve my goal. Fortunately, it was a descent into the finish line, and I went into my last gear.