I have raced two half marathons in my life: one was the last race I ran before mysteriously developing blood clots in both of my lungs in August 2011, and the second was just before Christmas this year.
My hopes were high going into this race. Although I never expected to PR again after the PE (pulmonary emboli), this past year has probably been the best running year of my life thus far. And this distance race was the ultimate test. If I could PR in this race, beating the time I ran right before the PE, I could finally say with absolute assurance that I am 100% better, that even if there is some kind of long term damage to my lungs, my body has compensated and it doesn’t matter.
Given the previous paragraph, one would think that I would be quite nervous for the race. However, the combination of decent training, a successful 9-mile tempo run and a very busy night before race day made me feel fairly confident, though not overly excited.
“A” Goal: 6:45 pace through first 10 miles, cut down from there (1:27:00)
“B” Goal: Sub- 1:30:00
“C” Goal: PR (Sub 1:35:20)
Pre-Race: After a lively late night playing trumpet with a show on Livewire Radio I was feeling less than psyched up for my race, but I went through the routine (shower, layers and race number, oatmeal and black tea) and headed out. The weather was cold, but not raining and not overly windy (a minor miracle). I knew my goals going in and had decided that (per my training runs and the cold weather) I would be okay without eating/drinking during the race. I didn’t practice with nutrition and I didn’t want to experiment on race day.
Race: The race began basically on time (only about 5 minutes late) and I started off running
beside the friend with whom I ran the epic 9-mile tempo. The first mile wound through neighborhoods and I’m pretty sure that it was marked long. After two miles we emerged onto Willamette Blvd. which threads along the edge of a bluff over the Willamette River. My running friend sped up at about mile 6 and I let her go as we were already running a bit faster than goal pace and I HAD A PLAN. The turn around was at about mile 7.5 and I noticed immediately that the route to the finish was uphill. My pace dropped off accordingly and I was a bit disheartened. But I slogged onward through thick fog. At mile 11 I looked at my watch, and while my “A” goal was out of reach, my “B” goal was maybe attainable. I tried to pick up the pace a bit and as I passed 12 miles I knew that it was going to be very close. I thundered down the last hill into the finish as the clock ticked 1:29:54, 1:29:55, 1:29:56 and I made it!
Overall Splits were. . .6:50, 6:39, 6:46, 6:46, 6:38, 6:37, 6:48, 6:56, 7:01, 7:07, 7:06, 7:06, 6:59 = 1:29:52 (chip time)
I finished, drank some water, took a picture and headed out to shower and then brunch with my mom. I was 10th for women, my tempo-run friend was 9th (finishing 21 seconds ahead of me) and two of the other friends I’ve trained with came in 2nd and 7th. It was a good race with shockingly great weather and a gigantic medal which I hung on the Christmas tree.
I am so thankful that I both PR’d and broke 1:30:00. I wish that current-me could go back in time and reassure past-me, who never thought I would be able to run a 7-minute mile, let alone PR again, that it would all work out. But that’s not how life goes, and for a lot of people, it doesn’t all work out. Going through the experience of not knowing one way or the other, but deciding that running is something I love and want to do either way grew me as a person and gave me insight into things I never thought I would experience. I hope it will continue to help me in the future to be a good friend to those who are dealing with illness or injury and to never take running for granted.
Have you had a “comeback” race? What’s the most meaningful race that you’ve run?