Today I ran the BAA Half. This has always been my favorite half marathon and I look forward to it every fall. What set today apart from past years (this was my 3rd time running it) was that I ran the Maine Half- Marathon last weekend. I’ve never run races back to back weekends and I’ll be honest I didn’t really know what to expect and was a little bit nervous.
This past week was kind of crazy with work and things going on home so it wasn’t as restful as I’d hoped it would be. I slept in a few mornings to get some extra rest and my only workouts were yoga on Tuesday morning and an easy 3 mile run on Thursday. I did try to stretch as much as possible as my hips and hamstrings have been incredibly tight and uncomfortable. I knew going into today that my legs didn’t feel as fresh as last week but still hoped for a good race!
Michael and I headed out this morning around 7am, I brought my oatmeal to go and fueled up on the way there. I was cautious to not drink too much water and Gatorade as I over did last week and had to stop and use the bathroom. We scored a great parking spot and were at the field very easily, I picked up my shirt and then waited. The line for the Porta Pottie is really long at this half so I didn’t ever bother to try to go. In the past I’ve always just made a quick stop in the first mile or so and since I’m running for fun I don’t mind losing 45 seconds. We headed to the start and I got into Wave 2, the 8 to 8:59 pace per mile corral.
The B.A.A. did a really nice job with the speaking portion before the start and the National Anthem was gorgeous. They certainly touched on the events of the Boston Marathon but they didn’t dwell on it and recognized how many people came out to run and show their support. Before I knew it Wave 1 was off and we were making our way to the start. I crossed the line and started running. I knew right away I was going to have a challenging race. My legs felt a bit tired and achy. At the half-mile mark I tried to quick run in and use the bathroom but there was a line so I kept going. At mile 1 I decided I’d just wait for the guy in front of me. He took longer than expected and by the time I was back out running I’d lost about 2 minutes. I was pretty bummed but told myself I was running for fun and my time wouldn’t matter in the end.
The course was VERY crowded the first few miles and it was really hard to navigate your way through people, there was a lot of weaving on my part! One of my mental tricks for running a half is to not pay attention to the mile markers until mile 4, and by then it’s less than 10 miles to go. So today that’s exactly what I did. I focused on the people around me and scenery and truly felt thankful to be out running on a gorgeous fall morning. Just before mile 5 was a u-turn and I knew the course would start to get hilly then. I took my first shot blok and some Gatorade and tried to relax and enjoy the easy terrain.
Mile 6 is where the hills start and mile 7 has some real good ones. I love hills (a product of being a nordic skier) so I just pushed my way up and over them. My legs started to feel really heavy and the hills were definitely a challenge but I just stayed mentally tough and told myself I was over half way there. Mile 8 is pretty flat and it was a welcome break to my legs. It gave me a chance to rest before we’d go back up again.
At mile 9 I saw Michael which gave me an extra jolt of energy, he’s the best cheerleader! I grabbed some Gatorade right after I saw him and took another shot blok. I knew the challenging part of the course was coming so I started to mentally prepare. Mile 9 to 10 is pretty much uphill the entire way, it’s long and gradual and it does a number on your legs. I set my pace, stayed mentally tough and pushed through. Right after the 10 mile mark is another u-turn before you head back down. I welcomed the downhill but was getting frustrated as the course really narrowed and became congested. It was so hard to pass people and run freely.
Once you pass the 11 mile mark you hit another challenging uphill. It’s again long but steeper than the hill at mile 9. I was ready for it and I knew it’d bring me closer to the end. Thankfully the course opened up a bit and I had a little more room. I set my pace and chugged along. Almost to mile 12, I saw Michael again and was thankful for his enthusiasm and encouragement. His sister was volunteering at the water stop and was full of energy! The two of them gave me the push I needed to get up and over the hill.
Mile 12 is my favorite. It’s winds through the Franklin Park Zoo. I passed an aviary and wound through some narrow paths. Before I came back to the road I saw the camel taking it all in! There is only a half mile to go after the zoo so I started to pick up my pace. The crowd was cheering and I knew I was almost there! As I entered the stadium and saw the finish line I pushed the pace and crossed with a strong finish and a time of 1 hour 52 minutes.
It certainly wasn’t my fastest half marathon but it was worth it! I’m bummed I lost almost 2 minutes going to the bathroom but it happens. I am proud of myself for making it through two half marathons, two weekends in a row. My legs felt it today and it’s quiet obvious I need some more yoga.
I learned a good lesson today when it comes to running…I’m more about quality than quantity. I realized that running two races didn’t make me feel better about all my training or the time I put in, it’s just that I ran 2 races not one. I definitely think I’d rather run one race…feel good, have fresh legs and give it my all than say I ran 2. I don’t run for the medals or the swag or to say I did a certain race. I run races because it gives meaning to my 5 am runs and it gives me a reason to go run 10 miles before work on Friday mornings. To me, races are a celebration of months of training and I’m content with one really awesome celebration.
I also learned that I really love the smaller races. Today 8,000 people were out running. Last weekend there was 3,000. I have to say I’d rather run with 3,000. I don’t want to wait in line for the bathroom, or give my warm clothes to Michael 30 minutes before the start so I can get in the corral and I don’t want to worry about the course being crowded or how I’m going to get around all the people in front of me. I just want to run my 13.1 miles, and have some fun!
All in all, I’m happy and proud of my races and the lessons I’ve learned. These races have certainly made my months of training complete worth it.