This race almost did not happen. I pondered for a week whether to run it or not. I was worried about how I would do and full of “what ifs?”
“What if I do terrible?”
“What if I’m thinking I’m training hard, but my race performance shows otherwise?”
“What if I just skip the race and not worry about it?”
“What if I do great?”
“What if I do better than I did at Catherine Creek Half Marathon?”
On Friday, the day before the race, I had a really bad four mile run. My body felt so heavy and I was short on breathing. The run furthered fueled my insecurities, but I knew that if I wanted to gauge whether my training was working or not, I needed to run it. I needed to give it all I’ve got and use it as another training tool for my marathon goal of 4:20. I decided I needed to show up and not allow my fears to interfere with all of the hard work I have been doing the last nine weeks. The only way to answer the “What ifs” was to run the race.
Let me preface my post by stating that because of the what if’s, this race recap had the possibility of going a different direction. I could have given you a plethora of reasons why I didn’t race, or why my race was terrible. Fortunately, I am giving you six reasons why this race was not only worth running, but necessary for my marathon training.
Reason 1: Price
I paid $14 to enter the race. Yes, $14. This has been the least expensive race entry out of all the races I’ve ever done. When I received an e-mail last fall indicating that the entry fee would only be $14 for one day, I figured that if I didn’t end up running it, my loss would not be as great of a loss.
Reason 2: Start Time
The start time for the race was 11:00 am. This meant that I could wake up at a decent time, eat a nutritious breakfast, and have plenty of time to digest my dinner in a flushable toilet and not in a portable toilet. Furthermore, a later start time meant the opportunity for warmer weather (I prefer warmer running temperatures).
Since the race took place in a city that is three hours away from where I live, the family and I drove up on Friday night and we were able to have a nice dinner where I loaded on a plate full of carbohydrates.
Because of the latter start time, I wasn’t worried about sleeping in, which made it easy for me to sleep through the night. In all, if not 99% of the races I’ve run, I’ve lost good amounts sleep throughout the night for fear of oversleeping. Or I’ve had to wake at the crack of down because of early start times. In the morning, we actually sat down to eat breakfast at the hotel without feeling rushed. We all walked back to our hotel room and the extra time allowed me to do something I rarely do on race day – I braided my hair. An 11:00 am start time was absolutely perfect for me.
Reason 3: Temperature in the 50’s
I don’t like cold weather. I don’t like wind. I don’t like rain (although I’d prefer rain over cold and wind). The sun was shining, and even though it was a chilly morning, the temperature had risen to the high 40’s/low 50’s by the time 11 am rolled in.
The 50’s was perfect enough to keep cool during the run without worrying about overheating as the race progressed. Of course, perfect temperature meant not having to worry about how many layers of clothing I needed to wear. Thus, I did not need to peel off any layers during my run. It is important to note that the temperature for this time of year was an anomaly. Last year, this race saw snow and sub-freezing temperatures. Needless to say, I was very grateful I was spared the Winter weather.
Reason 4: The Course
The race took place in Ann Morrison Park. The park is a greenbelt course with scenic views. It is relatively flat (if you are from Florida, you’d disagree) and even though you share the course with the public, it was not an issue due to the fact the paths had ample room to accommodate pedestrians, runners, and cyclists. The park has distance marked on the floor, so it was a no brainer how far out I had gone and how much was left of the race after reaching the turnaround point. Incredibly, my Garmin and the course were in sync. For me, it’s mind-boggling to hit mile markers before my Garmin does or vice versa, because you never know if the course is going to be short or if you are going to be running extra.
Reason 5: Number of Participants
While it’s fun to run with the masses, it’s no fun to be elbow-to-elbow with the masses. This was the case last year when I ran the Rock n Roll San Diego half-marathon last summer. Because we (husband and I) were weaving in and out of people, we ended up running almost a half mile extra. In all honesty, it wasn’t fun, but since I had never experienced what running was like with 30,000 plus runners, I did not know what to expect. I’ve learned to enjoy and now prefer smaller races. This 1/2 marathon had 317 runners, giving me plenty of elbow room to move without worrying about being crammed and searching for an opening to make a move when the person in front of you is going at a different pace. A smaller group of runners means there isn’t crowding at the aid stations. I was able to grab a cup of water and go without bumping or weaving around anyone. I managed to stay hydrated and loss very few seconds because of how smooth it went.
Reason 6: PR
Little did I know that reasons 1-5 were going to help me attain a Personal Record! I was in complete shock when my pace was still in the low 8’s at mile eight. When mile 10 rolled in, and I wasn’t feeling any kind of physical pain anywhere in my body, I started getting excited about the possibility that I might be able to run every single of my 13 miles in under 9 minutes. And then, when I saw the finish line and my Garmin indicated I had just run 13.1 miles in 1:50:25, I simply couldn’t believe it! In fact, I’m still in a state of disbelief. As lame as it sounds, I may have just experienced what winning a gold medal in the Olympics feels like! In the end, I was thrilled I did not allow my fears and insecurities to prevent me from racing.