Half marathon #11 is done. And there are many, many stories to tell about Sunday's race.
Let's start with the weather. If you live in the Midwest, you know that it was incredibly hot yesterday. I am not sure what the high was, but I could feel the heat radiating off of the pavement. Thanks to no shade on the course, and a change of plans (see marathon #3 comment below), it looks as if someone painted a tank top, shorts, and ever-so-stylish compression sleeve white line on me. Oh, I can't forget the sunglasses tan, too. Someone told me that it reached 94*. Perfect conditions for a PR, right?
PR I did...by 8 seconds. I was hoping to run a 1:35. I had done some math in my head the previous week and 1:35 sounded like an ambitious but good number for me to shoot for. I heard from friend's that it was supposed to be hot on Sunday, but I didn't realize how hot until Saturday night at 11 PM when I decided to check the weather. Low of 73 and high of 87 with nothing but bright, sunny skies. Knowing that I could not kill Mother Nature, I decided to change my plan.
The race started at 7 AM, which was good. I thought that I could run the first 10 quick and run in the last 3 at a comfortable 7:30 pace. It worked, for 1 mile. I felt awesome at mile 1. By mile 2, I was already sweating. I didn't have time to do a warm-up before the race, so mile 1 was it. I don't sweat a whole lot, but I was dripping by mile 2. However, I still felt good and was running sub-goal pace. Miles 3, 4, 5, and 6 went by relatively easily. I attempted to take a GU at mile 7 but the thought of that substance going down my throat was awful. I managed to take 2 little globs of it before throwing it away.
Then, it started to get really hot. It was uncomfortable to run. At mile 9 my goal was to finish. I didn't care about PRing, I wanted to get this run over with as soon as possible. My pace had drastically slowed due to the heat.
At mile 10 and 11, I walked through the water stations. I knew I needed to drink more water. I took 2 cups at each station and made sure I consumed it all. However, to occupy my time I started to do some math in my head. I knew a PR was still possible, so I tried to go fast. But, fast when it is that hot out is really not that fast. At mile 12 I ran next to a guy for a minute before passing him. As I ran by, he called out "Hey, did you run the Illinois Marathon?" I told him yes. He said to me, "I recognize your shoes and your stride." Which, according to my friends, is code for: I looked at your ass during the Illinois Marathon so much that I remember it. Thank you, kind friends.
I finished the half marathon and was so happy to be done. The official stats:
Official Time: 1:40:06 (*PR by 8 seconds)
Overall Place: 30/742
Gender Place: 5/???
Age Group Place: 3/71
After finishing my half marathon, I grabbed some water, ice, and got my camera and some Shot Bloks from my checked bag. I changed into a different tank top and ran to mile 12.5 on the course to take pictures of my friends who were running the full marathon. The original plan was to take pictures at mile 12.5 and then meet them at mile 23 to run in with them.
However, thing didn't go according to plan. I saw my friend S first. He said that my friends J and M were back a little bit and M was struggling. She wanted to quit. When J and M got to me, they took my bag of ice and were so happy for it. J and M were attempting to go for Marathon Maniac status, so this was there 2nd marathon in as many weeks. I told them that I would run a bit with them. I ran and walked with M. We stopped and walked and talked with everyone at the aid stations. We took pictures by the mile signs. We talked about a wide array of topics...everything from college to training for races to marathon bucket-list races to family. J and S were always within sight, if not at our sides. It was a total team effort to finish. The four of us crossed the marathon finish line, holding hands, together.
Even though I had taken my bib off, when I crossed the finish line they tried to give me the full medal. After expelling that I had already run the half and have my medal from that, and was just running the full in support of my friends, the people (and my friends) insisted I get a full medal, too. I tried to give it back, but they wouldn't let me. I'll be getting a 3rd medal in the mail, too, for placing.
I signed up to run a 13.1 mile race. I knew the course and hoped the weather from last year would be the same (cloudy, springing, with the temp. being in the upper 40s.) What I ended up experiencing was record heat, running/walking 27 miles, and helping my friends achieve their goal. I am far more proud that I could help them out, than the PR I got.
Sometimes you just have to be thankful that you can run rather than worry about what the clock says.