The week leading up to the Gazelle Girl Half Marathon was a roller coaster in more ways than one. Weather reports fluctuated from sunny to rain to three inches of snow. My mom entered the hospital after a serious stroke and her condition improved and declined daily. My goals for the event wandered from going all out to just running to finish.
I entered the race as a check on my bucket list. With my sister-in-law running her first half marathon, this seemed to be the year to do it. My sister and niece also signed up for races. It would be a fun girls’ day.
My training goal is the Bayshore Full Marathon on May 25. I didn’t want to mess up my training by racing too hard and burning out before that race. Twenty-six miles is even longer when you start out on dead legs. My original goal was to use the race as a tempo run. I’d run a warm-up mile, then nine miles at marathon pace, and slow down for the last three miles. When my mom’s condition worsened and the snow predictions increased, I prepared for a miserable experience and switched my goal to finishing or not running at all.
The morning of the race, Mom was doing well and my spirits buoyed. The weather still threatened snow, but I felt more confident about the event. I decided to stick with the marathon pace and see how it felt. I programmed my watch to help me stay on pace.
At the start, when my niece stripped down to shorts, I questioned the multiple layers I wore. Did I really need a jacket, ear-warmer, and gloves? Too late to change. She would be done much quicker than I would, so she wouldn’t be cold for as long.
A mile into the race, I realized that I couldn’t hear my watch’s prompts through my jacket, so that plan wouldn’t work. Luckily, I had caught up to a pace group. They were a little faster than my intended pace, but if I could keep them in sight I would be close to my goal.
After a few miles, things were going well. The pace group was excellent and encouraging. My stride felt smooth, the pace felt manageable. The sleet at miles four and five made me thankful for my covered skin (and that I wasn’t the man in the grass skirt and coconut bra at the spirit station), but the inches of snow held off.
At the turn around, I saw my niece flying through the course. She looked fantastic.
I stayed with the pace group until ten miles. It felt good. I decided to finish hard. I dropped to my 5k pace. As the finish approached, I passed the 10k and 5k racers.
My sister and my niece found me, and we waited for my sister-in-law to finish. We could definitely tell that the temperature was dropping. She came across the finish line with a huge smile on her face. We all ran our best times for our distances.
Running well is a great experience, but watching someone discover the joy in a run is the best.
Other notes: I wore Altra Torins and my feet didn’t get as tired as they usually go. I am hoping they aren’t the cause of the arch problem I am having because they felt really good during the event and during my long runs.