Although this wasn’t my first half marathon and I’ve been training for a full marathon, I was nervous. If I did well on this race then I could use it as proof of time for the Disney marathon to get into a better starting corral. I’ve been putting in the work but I was counting on cooler weather. It’s been unseasonably warm which is excellent for riding but not that great for running.
I’ve been following my form on TrainingPeaks and mostly following my training plan to make sure I’d be prime for race day. I did my pre race run as instructed by my coach. Directly after my run I visited the chiropractor. He asked how I was doing and I informed him that I was freaking out. It was the eve of the race and I had a lot of discomfort in my right calf and hamstring. After doing a routine exam he escorted me into the only room I’ve never been in. He did RPT therapy in the areas that I had discomfort. He explained that it would help break up the adhesions in those areas and improve circulation to my muscles. It helped me tremendously. I felt a world better almost immediately.
After my visit I had my pre race pasta dinner and then started getting ready for the morning. The drive to the race was an hour and ten minutes and I had to be there before 7:00am to pick up my race bib. Parking wouldn’t be an issue because I paid a little extra for on site parking rather than having to find a parking spot in the village. I would have to wake up at 4:40 and leave home by 5:30. I spoke with my coach about strategy and wardrobe before going to bed early. I didn’t sleep soundly due to my nerves but I did get enough sleep.
My morning went as planned. When I left home it was pitch dark out and I watched the sunrise as I drove out east. The sky slowly lit up with vibrant hues of pink and orange. It was a beautiful sunrise. If I wasn’t driving I would have taken a picture of it. I sipped my coffee during the drive.
I arrived at the race, picked up my race bib, and then went back to the car to have my breakfast. I put on my hydration pack which was filled with Cytomax, my sunglasses, and my bluetooth headphones. I had bought plastic bib fasteners so I wouldn’t ruin my clothes with safety pins. The clips came in a pack of four with “Finish Strong” written on them for inspiration. I pinned my bib on with them and then made my way towards the starting line. I had planned on using the porto potty closer to the start of the race but the line was getting long so I went sooner rather than later. After that I had about fifteen minutes before the start of the race which pretty much flew by.
I started out a little bit faster than I had planned but still very reasonable. I was hanging with a few guys that were running the full marathon but, when I saw how high my heart rate was, I wished them luck and backed it down. Many people passed me but I knew that, further along, I’d be passing some of them. Although I was being conservative with my pace, my heart rate remained high.
I passed the first drink station around mile 3 without taking anything because the water was self service and I refused to come to a full stop. A few people did stop for water and that marked the start of me moving up in the race. The next drink station was around mile five and was being handed out. I took a cup and poured it on my head wishing I’d have poured some down my shirt. I had half of my nutrition bar. Shortly after that a lady that had been going strong started to walk. The heat was starting to break people down. At mile 6 I had an energy gel. The next drink station wasn’t far from the previous one and had water on the table so I snatched it up while barely slowing down and poured it down my shirt and over my head. I continued dumping water on myself throughout the race.
About halfway through the race I saw people lined up at the porto potties on the side of the road. These people couldn’t go without peeing for a couple of hours?! Around mile 8 I started picking up the pace and was passing a good amount of people. Shortly before mile 10 I consumed the other half of my nutrition bar. At mile 10 I went into my race pace. I passed even more people. I kept going strong. I told myself that it was ok if I slowed down a bit at that point, but I managed to go faster. At mile 13.1 there was no sign of the finish line but I knew it would be there eventually. At mile 13.2 I rounded a corner and there it was! I thought of the “Finish Strong” clips I was wearing and I went into a full on sprint passing about 3 more people. Before I knew it I was over the timing mat and being handed a finisher’s medal. I did it! I completed my first warm weather race with a personal record! I grabbed a bottle of water and sat down for a few minutes before stretching and making my way back to the car.
I had a great time at this race. The course was very scenic and the event was well run. The volunteers worked very hard to keep the water flowing. Police officers and volunteers worked hard in the sun to block the roads and call out the various turns. The spectators were jubilant and encouraging. The swag bag was high quality and the medals were very decorative. It is more than likely that I will be returning to this race next year. I highly recommend doing this event.
Running is sometimes more of a mental challenge than a physical one. I entertained thoughts of slowing down, walking, or stopping but I willed myself to run on. There was nothing wrong with my legs but the challenge of racing in the heat was uncomfortable at times. The people cheering me on along the way helped me so much. They yelled out “you can do it!”. I truly could and I did! I thank them and all of you for all of the support. Thank you so much for reading!