This morning doubts and excuses flooded my mind as I got ready and drove over to the race site. The Blue Moon Half & 5K were put on by the Premier Racing Institute and the end of the Aces are Wild series that included a 5K, 10K, 15K, and 13.1 about a month a part all for $115 (plus tech t-shirts and food for each race). The series is local and low-key and a fun progression to push you towards longer distances as running season picks up. I really like switching between the stressful larger races and fun local ones.
Since I only have a handful of long runs in the past month I had no clue if my goals for the race were realistic. My first half was in 2008 at the Philadelphia ING Half Marathon and I surprised myself by running a 1:41:54. I’ve only run one true half marathon since and that wasn’t a fun experience. Yesterday, I put in 12 hours on my feet at the hospital and didn’t really sit down with the exception of lunch. Wasn’t sure how this was going to effect my race. Normally, I might brush it off and just race but I’ve been consistently working at running since Beijing and really cared about beating my time to prove I’ve gotten even slightly faster in the past 3 years.
We arrived with plenty of time to pick up our packets and warm up. While warming up though, legs felt tired and heavy. Slowly, I started to calculate a more realistic goal than a PR but tried not to think too much because adrenaline sometimes overcomes fatigue.
Florida is known as a flat state which means training usually takes place on flat ground. I wasn’t too happy at first when I found out the course changed from last year as a flat out and back trail run to a series of 3 loops with multiple turnarounds and dreaded inclines. It was, however, a fun challenge and made for an interesting course.
The course started off with a nice sized hill that I cursed knowing I’d run up it again two more times. With the turnarounds and hills, I figured my pace was right at 7:30/mile. My legs didn’t feel as tired and my breathing felt steady. At mile 1 my watch read 7:00. Shit. Slow down. Don’t race this like an idiot. It was difficult not getting caught up with the 5K runners so I was thankful when we finally split off. Somehow I missed mile marker 2 and wasn’t sure how well I adjusted my speed. A women pulled up next too me and I contemplated trying to keep pace with her until we passed mile 3 at 20:59. Come on Courtney, you really need to slow down. I backed off slightly to give her a lead because it was too soon in the race for me to push myself and I was already a minute and half faster than my goal time. She took off and kept about a minute or two lead for most of the race.
Finally, I started to slow down and settle into a better pace around mile 6. At this point in the race my feet were hitting the pavement harder (they do that when I’m tired) but I still felt strong. At the half way point, I tried taking a gel but almost gagged since my body wasn’t craving anything. Around mile 9 right after finishing the second loop, I started to fear the consequences of taking the race out so fast. Faster than a responsible and experienced runner would have. I was in 3rd place by this point about a minute behind 2nd and a minute in front of 4th place (1st place female was crazy fast and finished in 1:22….gotta love the drastic difference in speed you find at local races). Despite really wanting to drop back and give into fatigue, I decided disappointment from not trying my best would be worse than pain for 30 more minutes. Besides, there was a small cash prize for finishing in the top 3 .
Thankfully, I stuck it out and crossed the finish line at 1:38:59 according to my watch and a 1:39:04 for the gun time. It felt great knowing I pushed myself as hard as possible. Now I just have to focus on mature racing because I can’t pull that during my marathon in January.
My friend, Colleen, had a great half especially considering she’s been a biking maniac lately. And I’m really proud of a few friends that ran their first 5K today. So it was fun hanging out enjoying the post-race food and beer. Since we were still hungry and “thirsty” we headed over to a local pub that opened up early. Overall, it was a great day and now I’m off to study and work on school projects/papers. One month until I graduate!!!!!
Did anybody have a race this weekend?