The B&A Half Marathon has been on my to-do list for….well, forever. Growing up ON the race course, I have memories of going outside to cheer on the runners just prior to Mile 1. I always said I’d do the race myself, but for one reason or another I never actually got around to it. This year seemed like the perfect timing – the only downside being it was only a week after Club Challenge. But, the low entry-fee plus the promise of my dad making post-race omlettes, was enough to get me on the entrants list! And lucky for me, Carly was going to run the Club Challenge-B&A Double with me….having someone to share that with would certainly make it hurt a little less, right? Last week after Club Challenge I texted Hillary my result and got the following back: YES! 1:30 or bust next weekend!
Oh dear. Initially I thought this goal was way too high, but as the week went on I talked to Hillary more, we made a plan, and I got myself pumped to go for it.
Race morning came and we made the drive down to Severna Park. With the start/finish located at a high school it’s great because there is plenty of parking and bathrooms. This race is also a huge draw for the Navy marathon team and they were there in full force – with 85 runners! Having run on this team myself when I was at USNA, it’s always great to see them out there. Plus, I have an on-going rivalry with the coach. Since I left Navy, Nate and I have run into each other at countless running events. Usually he would finish ahead of me, but in the past couple years he has added some triathlons to his schedule and to his dismay when it comes to tri’s I keep finding my way to the finish ahead of him:) With these events on the record, most recently IM AZ, I would say we’re just about tied in our little competition. Toeing the line on Sunday I tried to get a feel for his fitness and he said he had a bit of a calf issue lately so he wasn’t sure. Uh, huh. Likely story 🙂
Carly’s plan was to start with me and we were going to go out in 6:45s….I would do this for as long as I possibly could, she would see how she was feeling at mile 6ish if I was still with her and decide to go. Thanks to the Garmin, we avoided my usual too fast first mile, and you can see from my Garmin data here that this was a very well executed race for me. All my first miles were exactly what I wanted. Around mile 3 Carly and I were sitting in the top handful of women and another girl came up – looking very good. I told Carly to go with her if she wanted, I was going to keep the pace strictly 6:45-6:50 because I was beginning to feel the hurt. I am still working on trying to distinguish between “hurt that will equal a blow up” and just “hurt that I can sustain” in a running race. I wanted to err on the side of caution to be able to hold up for the second half of the race.
When Carly went ahead I still had plenty of company thanks to the Navy team. And I had the added benefit of surprise support on the course – a HUGE shout out to Christa and Joel who popped out at a bunch of places along the out and back, and also Becky who was out there supporting! There really is nothing like a familiar face being out there cheering you on.
At the turnaround there is a big hill, and that sucked a little bit of the life out of me. Luckily, the crowd in general slows for a few miles between 7-9, so it wasn’t too much of a setback. However, as I hit the turn-around I saw Nate wasn’t too far behind and he made it no secret he was coming for me! True to his word, he came flying by me about a mile later.
At mile 8, just as I started to drop off the Navy guys’ pace, I had my next huge boost – Ryan! He was planning to run the last 5 in with me as a portion of his run for the day. This was a tremendous help because by this time I wasn’t even looking at the Garmin – I knew here the point was to just be going as hard as I could. Ryan helped me keep the pace and more importantly helped me keep my head by assuring me that I wasn’t, in fact, slowing down. The wind had started to pick up and the cold was setting in, so I needed to get everything out of my head and just run. I hit mile 10 in 1:08:48(?) and I knew that 1:30 mark was looming. Honestly though, it didn’t really matter anymore – I was giving everything I had.
I turned off the bike path and towards the finish to the cheers of my friends. One final turn, and with the finish about 20 meters away I was hit with a feeling that almost made me stop dead in my tracks short of the finish: I was going to puke.
I made the final few steps in with my mouth tightly sealed, my shoulders heaving as the vomit kept trying to make its way out. I finally hit the timing mats (1:30:24), bent over, and let it out. Gross.
Nate was waiting at the finish line and assured the volunteers that the vomit didn’t indicate a need for real medical attention and that I was, in fact, a-okay. He got me steered in the direction of Ryan and my friends, as well as the warm school, and let me know that he was planning on racing me in an Ironman again….in 5 years 🙂 I’ll be waiting!
Carly went on to run a blazing 1:26 which was good enough for second place! And she did it all racing in a skirt for the first time!
I couldn’t have been happier with this result. Though I fell 24 seconds shy of my goal, this was over a 6 minute PR for me! I am so excited to see some speed in my legs and I think this is just another great sign that Coach Hillary and I are on the right track 🙂 And the best part of the day? Well, finishing is probably tied with the omlette-hot-tubbing post-race combo that Carly, Ryan and I got to enjoy at the casa de Godesky!!