Oh what a difference a year can make! This Saturday I ran my second half marathon. It was the same course but a completely different race for me. Last year was about proving I could do the (seemingly) impossible. This year was about knowing I’m so much stronger and mentally tougher.
My main goal was to run the entire thing – no walking. Last year things got rough in the last few miles and I walked a couple times on Meridian Street. I didn’t have a set time in mind, outside of beating my 2:26:18 finish last year. If you read my training update, you know my confidence was through the roof and I was hungry for race day.
I got in the corral for my pace and tried to get focused. I might be alone in this, but I kind of hate the start line chatter. Everyone is working out their nerves and I get that. But I have to tune it all out and go through my pre-race pep talk in my head.
At mile 1 my watch read 10:30 and I was worried I was going out too fast. Around that same spot, I got passed by my friends Meggie, Meghan, Jake and Chad (pictured post-race below). It was awesome to see them but they are all faster than me so I was worried about pacing again. They took off and I was feeling good at the 10:30 pace so I settled into it.
When I got to Mass Ave, I was excited. This is my street. This is my home. We turned onto Central, part of my regular 3-mile route I’ve done so many times. It was such a different feeling than last year when I mainly trained on a treadmill. Training entirely outside helped me learn to listen to my body and know what different paces felt like. And I ran in all sorts of weather so I was ready for anything.
At the split (mile 7), I was feeling really good and maintaining a 10:30 – 10:45 pace. I don’t have a fancy watch so I did the math in my head at each mile marker. The next three miles were all about getting to Meridian Street. I wanted it so bad. I couldn’t wait to get to that last stretch where I walked last year and just kill it.
When I turned onto Meridian at The Children’s Museum, I got a huge grin on my face and I just knew. I knew I was getting it done with no walking. My time at mile 10 was faster than my training run and I realized I was on track to crush my time from last year if I kept up my pace.
I had to negotiate heavy traffic as I rounded onto West Street and kicked into high gear going into the chute. My parents were at the finish line but I didn’t even hear their awesome cheers (on display in the video my dad captured below) since I was super focused on finishing strong.
My final chip time was 2:18:46, almost eight minutes faster than last year! There are no words to describe how I felt. You train so hard and log so many miles hoping it all comes together on race day. And it totally did for me. My legs were strong and my mindset was solid. I felt like I ran smart and even managed a negative split.
I found my parents and when they asked how it went, I started crying. I’m not a big fan of emotions but I couldn’t help it. I was so proud of myself. I felt like I graduated from “runner” to runner during the race, if that makes sense.
In last year’s recap, I talked about maintaining my base during the winter but I failed at that. This year, I’m already looking at spring races and thinking about a goal time to train for. I am riding a serious runner’s high right now and don’t want to lose this feeling. And watching so many of my friends finish with PRs or run their first full marathon this weekend has me amped up to get out there again.
One difference from last year that might help me stay accountable is my assimilation into Indy’s running community. Through crossfit, volunteering with Back on My Feet and Twitter, I’ve gotten to know a lot more runners (a few pictured below). They are much more legit than me, but they’ve all been incredibly supportive and celebrate my personal bests with the same enthusiasm as their badass performances. I know they’ll be out there running through the winter and it will help motivate me to do the same.
Did you run the Monumental half or full? How was your race? What keeps you motivated to train during the winter? What spring half should I sign up for?