Exactly a year ago today, I was chasing a sub-2 half-marathon. That goal was achieved on August 2, 2014 at the Catherine Creek Classic Half-Marathon. This year, I ran the same course, but with goals and thoughts completely different from the ones I possessed a year ago. For one, I was no longer seeking a specific finish time. Second, after spending two months on the sidelines due to a plantar fascia rupture, I was grateful for the mere of opportunity of being able to run. Finally I was racing for distance in order to test my endurance and gauge if my foot could sustain the upcoming demands of marathon training for the Marine Corps Marathon.
Last year, I had the opportunity to race with my husband. This year, my friend Kim, whom I ran Bridge of the Goddess Half-Marathon with back in September of 2014 was also running the course. She trekked all the way from Portland, Oregon to savor racing in Eastern Oregon. Unlike last year though, the temperatures were supposed to reach the 100’s for the day. While I personally prefer running in warmer temperatures over cooler temperatures, I’m highly aware how challenging and demanding running in temperatures over 80 degrees can be. The temperature at the starting line was 72 degrees, and for me personally, that was just right. I do not like starting in temperatures where I’m shivering and my muscles are cold. Since the course had water stations every two miles, I only carried Huma energy gels with me (thanks to my mother-in-law, I now have a sweet amount to choose from), and wore sunglasses to protect my eyes from the sun.Because I really did not have any expectations about the race except to measure the endurance and strength of my left foot, I was extremely relaxed and free of anxiety or self-imposed demands. This time around, I was excited for the opportunity to run with the goal of just crossing the finish line. There were no voices of doubt and confidence wrestling back and forth between one another and trying to placate them with visualizations or negotiations. If there was anything my injury taught me was that a number on a race clock does not quantify the will, determination, and struggle of the human spirit. The clock at the finish line is a mere snapshot capturing just that – the finish line; it does not capture what transpired before, during, or after the race. The acceptance that the time clock was by no means a measurement of who I was and what I was capable of doing took away any stresses I had a year ago. I was not worried about the hot temperatures, the elevation, and distance I needed to cover in a specified amount of time. It was genuinely a run that I was going to enjoy. When the clock started and we started racing down the hill (much of the race is a net loss and it is mostly downhill), I was smart enough not to go all out like I did last year. In fact, in comparison to last year’s time, I was almost one minute slower than the first time I ran it (2014 – 25:40, 2015 – 26:39). However unlike last year, I was feeling extremely strong the last four miles of the race and did not feel like my energy was waning. Last year, I was fighting tooth and nail not to let my pace slip to a ten minute mile in fear I would not make it to the finish line under two minutes. This year, I did not bother to look at my Garmin during miles 9-12 because I did not feel like I was struggling at any point either physically or mentally. My foot felt great and I was not experiencing any significant pain at any point. My back and shoulders, when exhausted, begin to hunch forward, but I never felt like I was losing my form. When I only had one mile remaining, I realized that my time on the course had flown by! I had no idea what my time would be, but I knew that I had probably run one of the best races I had ever run in my life. The time on the clock: 1:53:21. My time last year -1:57:46. I shaved four minutes off my time! Would this post had been positive had I finished in 2:07? Absolutely! My goal the entire time was to finish my race and to finish strong. Because I did not place any pressure on myself, I managed to run a very strong race. It is my hope to repeat this performance during the Marine Corps Marathon in October.