When I came to Mile 11 I was livid, because in my bleary exhaustion, I asked a volunteer where we were. He said I was about to see the 12-mile marker. He was off by a mile.
At Mile 12, I refused water because I knew if I stopped to drink, I wouldn't start again.
At Mile 13, I gave up on my goal of under two hours. I just wanted to finish, to survive really.
As I approached the finish, I raised my hand to some clapping and couldn't focus on much else. I crossed the finish line, took 10 steps and collapsed on a patch of grass and dirt.
It was there, at the finish of the 2009 Capital City River Run, that I swore I would never run a half-marathon again.
I lied. Well, I actually changed my mind.
The reason I changed it was how my body responded to running this year. To give you a little background, I have been running on a very amateur level for about six years. I've run a few dozen 5Ks and improved my time in almost every single one, getting down from 29 minutes to 23. I haven't run competitively much until the last two years where I've run a bunch of 5Ks, a 10K, two 10-mile races and a 10-mile trail run.
After last year's finish, I began this year at the Ronald McDonald Run for the House and ran a personal record and I was trying to take it easy. It was that race that I learned how important pacing myself at the beginning of a race was. From then on, I ran easier out of the gate and have not only improved my times, but had so much more energy to finish strong. It's allowed me to train this year much better than last. I had some knee pain last year that made long runs difficult. It's not as bad this year and I enjoy the longer runs of seven, nine, 10 miles.
It didn't take long for me to realize, I want to run the CCRR again. And maybe even another half before the year is over! Last year I ran one 10-mile race leading up to the CCRR and as many four and five-mile runs as my knee could handle. I finished, like I said, and even accomplished my goal, running in 1:59:15, but struggled mightily. I'm much more confident this year in my pacing and my overall fitness so I'm shooting for something much better. I've improved from 1:24 to 1:21 in two 10-mile races and ran the trail run in 1:23, so I think a three-minute improvement is automatic.
But I want to improve by 10 minutes!
I think it's a pipe dream, but what the hell, right? If I can run the CCRR in 1:50, I will do back flips (not right after the race). If I train a little harder the last few weeks, I think I have a shot, only because I faded so much down the stretch last year, taking about 35 minutes to run the last 3 miles. If I can have good energy from start to finish, I can do it.
In my next blog I'll talk about how, when I tell you about my training. Let's just say, when I train, I go to therapy... and I know a lot of you understand that completely.