See, because the race was the Best Damn Race. It’s clever!
I had no plans to do a bunch of races after the Disney half marathon, but remember back in December when I met a few people from Run Tampa? Yeah, well, I’ve met even more of them and they’ve become my extended family and I’m now running more than ever. Also racing more than ever, and it’s really been a lot of fun. In addition to the fun, our coach gave us a challenge – run 13 half marathons in 2013 (13×13 in 13).
I’m so in.
Suffice it to say, my no-racing plans have gone out the window.
In order to even come close to 13 for the year, I had to start signing up for races. I ran the Clearwater 5-miler in mid-January with a few of my new RT friends. I didn’t do the half because it was a week after Disney and I didn’t think I’d be ready. I did very well, especially when you consider that those 5 miles included traversing a big Clearwater bridge. Twice. I finished in 55 minutes and some change. I ran in brand new shoes, which is frowned upon. The shoes happened to be Newtons, which I’d never worn before. This is even more frowned upon to the point of being scold-worthy. I was out of commission for a few days following that race and worked carefully to undo the damage I had done to myself.
As my group has a very active Facebook presence, people began talking about upcoming races. I didn’t want to travel across the state to go to Melbourne, but there were several of my friends doing the Best Damn Race half marathon in Safety Harbor, so I thought “why not?” I signed up and began focusing on long runs.
I was never a fan of long training runs because I always did them alone, and it’s boring. And lonely.
It is an entirely new experience to do long training runs with friends. 8, 10, 11 miles fly by in no time because it’s FUN the whole time. I began training harder and noticing my times dropping slowly, but surely. I felt ready.
On race morning, wearing my non-Newton shoes, I kept noticing that my right shin, and to a lesser degree, my left shin was really hurting. I kept telling myself that it was early, I needed to stretch, it was really cold outside, and it was all going to be fine. I stretched, and it didn’t get better. And I jogged and it didn’t get better. I bounced on my toes and it didn’t get better. I was really starting to worry – what if it just didn’t get better? What if I couldn’t run??
The race started and I hung with one of my friends who tends to run faster than I do. At the first mile, I said I was really hurting. She commented that I was wearing my good shoes, so why was I hurting? I wasn’t sure. At the mile 2 water stop, I threw back some ibuprofen and told her to go without me, that I was going to slow down. I did slow a little, but I did not start walking. The more I ran, the more the pain lessened. By mile 4, I noticed that it was all but gone and I was making really good time. I changed my water strategy and only took every other stop, walking quickly through the ones I did take. At the mile 6 turn, I saw Michele again and realized that I wasn’t very far behind her. She shouted words of encouragement and it really helped. After I went around the turn, I saw some of my other friends behind me and behind them, the 2:30 pace team.
Wait, what? The 2:30 pace team is behind me? Who is that pace team just ahead? The 2:15 pace team?? How fast was I running??
Much of the course was the same as the Pretty in Pink 15K, so I was very familiar with it. I also knew there were going to be a lot of hills. I wondered if that was going to kill my hip, and thus my time. I wasn’t feeling any soreness in my hip, so I stopped thinking about it and pushed on. I did the hills the way I’ve been taught. I fought through my mind telling me that it was time to walk. My legs and my heart were saying there was no need to walk – we got this. Push on! So I pushed.
I didn’t walk until I started to ascend the last overpass around mile 9.5. Once I was up, I resumed running. Around 10.5, I had to start adding short walks because the hills had finally taken their toll on me. My heart was still on board with pushing on, but my legs were begging for a break. As well as they had been serving me this race, I complied. I walked briefly, and started to notice my hip beginning to twinge, as well as my right shin starting to whine a little. At the 12 mile water stop, I threw back some more ibuprofen and picked it up again. The course flattened back out once back in Safety Harbor, and the marina, while in the distance, was visible. I was almost there. I knew that if I could just last a little longer, I was going to beat my best time. By a lot. I wanted that more than anything. I thought to myself “It would be so cool if my song came on right toward the end”
And then it happened.
Right before the 13 mile marker, my song came on. I wanted so badly to sprint, so I gave it what I had. I saw Run Tampa people that I didn’t know lining the end of the course, cheering. I saw my friend Michael yelling for me and giving me a high five. I heard several runners cheering, saying it was just around the corner! I rounded the corner, and there it was. Right as Gerard sang the final line “let this world explode”, I did. I crossed the finish, arms raised and screaming because I hadn’t just broken my record – I had shattered it.
Forget shaving time off. I had lopped nine minutes off of my best time. I had not only broken my own record, I had hit my goal of getting below 2:30. I was a very happy girl.
Previous PR: 2:32:22
NEW PR: 2:23:07