I’ve officially completed my first half marathon. It’s officially the furthest I have ever ran at one time. I officially thought about quitting around mile 10. But let’s start from the beginning…
Friday after work, Mr. BKL and I drove to St. Cloud to pick up my packet for the Earth Day Half Marathon. As we drove North, the temperature dropped and the winds increased. I hoped it would be better in the morning, but knew I was fooling myself. From there we went to my parents house who live in the area.
Of course I had trouble sleeping and was wide awake at 5:00 am. I decided to stop fighting it and get up and make some coffee. My Dad, who is one of those chronic early risers, was already awake. One of the ways I am not like him. Coffee, toast, and a quick shower, and I was on my way. Well, after the snow was removed from my car of course. Temperature was right about 31 and winds were about 15 mph as I drove to the race. I got to the campus of St. Cloud State University, where the race started and ended, at about 7:30 and met a friend who was running the 20 mile race. It was nice to have someone to chat with nervously before the race started. Luckily we were able to wait inside at the field house to stay warm. (The very same field house I ran countless indoor track meets. Just walking in there made me nervous.)
I had a moment of panic when I couldn't find my Garmin. I found it and headed to the start line. The horn sounded and I slowly shuffled my way across the start line. I was a good distance back from the pacers I intended on catching eventually so I wouldn't start out to fast. The first two miles were basically trying to get around people. I think this is where the extra .14 miles I ran came in.
Considering the first 7 miles were exactly how I wanted to run, I won’t say much about those. Let’s start at where it got interesting. At mile 7, my watch said 57:ish. I thought great, I am pretty sure I can make up that minute in the last 3 miles and get my A goal of 1:45. So I was feeling pretty good. I was starting to have to work hard, but overall still felt okay.
Mile 9 hit and between a couple hills and a turn into the wind, I was stopped nearly dead in my tracks. I started breathing hard and could tell I was hitting a wall. Big time. There was a water station at the top of a hill just before the 10 mile marker. I stopped and walked to catch my breath. I wasn’t sure how I was going to jog it in, let alone keep up my pace. Heading straight into the howling North wind, I tried to duck behind someone in the hopes of using them as a human wind block. It didn’t work very well. A few blocks further and I caught up to a girl who looked to be about my age. We ran side by side for almost a mile. I think we both needed each other at that point. I stayed with her for the most part but she pulled away from me just before mile 12. She was within reach though.
I have run in wind before but something about facing this strong wind at the end of the race sucked the life out of me. I was definitely not prepared. I was getting down on myself for not being able to run 8:00 minute miles at this point. I was thinking lots of negative thoughts. My spirit was slightly renewed when I went past the 12 mile marker. Okay, only 1.1 miles left. You can do anything for 1.1 miles, I told myself. Somehow I found some strength, perhaps from finally turning out of the wind and onto the final downhill of the race. I practically sprinted down that hill because I wanted it to be over so bad.
I saw my A goal of 1:45 slip away, but thought I could still try for my B goal of 1:50. I ended up crossing the line at 1:48:40, official chip time.
My Dad made an interesting observation. He said that watching people cross the finish line of the Twin Cities 10 Mile compared to this race was like night and day. He said almost everyone had a look on their face that said “Please God let this be over soon” compared to the 10 mile, where most people were wearing a smile.
I started to wonder if I had been that unprepared and amazingly unrealistic about my goal of 1:45. I didn't want to blame the weather, but hoped that it made up for my lapse in judgment slightly. Since this race is a big event in St. Cloud, the newspaper had a story on the sports section. I felt a little better when the male and female winners both said that the weather was a big contender, and neither had their best race. Knowing they had struggled with the wind as I did, made me feel slightly better. Part of me still wishes I could have pulled off 1:45. And I can’t help but wonder if conditions had been ideal if I could have achieved it. I also wondered if I hadn’t eaten enough food the night before or the morning of and that caused me to crash. I know it wasn’t dehydration because at a balmy 31 degrees, the risk of that was slim.
Overall, it was a great experience and I learned a lot. Mainly that I put too much pressure on myself and in a month at Fargo, I want to run the same effort and hopefully be rewarded with a slightly faster time. I can’t say I didn’t leave it all out on the course, because I did. I had to dig deep, but I don’t have any regrets.
13/146 of 25-29 Females
74/814 Overall Females
1:48:41, 8:18 pace
1st half split, 51:42
2nd half split, 57:00
Special shout out to my race team support and photo crew. Mr. BKL, my Dad and my little sister. They braved the cold and cheered me on. You guys are the best!
I am sore today, but nothing terrible. I plan on trying out the legs tomorrow for a short 3 miles. But the honeymoon will soon be over. Only 4 more weeks until Fargo, and I plan on starting back up with an 8 miler on Saturday.