It is the illusionthat we can go no faster that holds us back." Kenny Moore
When I did my first half marathon in 2004, it took me almost 3 hours. I was undertrained for that one and walked a lot, so I knew I could get faster. And with each half marathon, I did. Three years ago I ran a half in 2:05 and I knew I was close to breaking the 2 hour mark. I signed up for the 3M Half Marathon in 2008 hoping to break that mark because this race is known as a fast course. That year I came in at 2:00:40. Last year I came in at 2:00:55. It was very frustrating knowing that I was so close, yet couldn't break 2 hours. So once again, I signed up to try again.
This morning, I left the house early so I wouldn't get caught up in the traffic going into the parking garage. I got there early and sat in my car for a while to stay warm. Last night, a "cold" front blew in. The temps really weren't that bad (high 40s or low 50s), but the wind was horrible. Weather.com said the wind was 16mph out of the NNW. The bad part of that is it made it feel a lot colder than it was. The good part is that the wind would be at our back for a good portion of the point-to-point course.
The race was suppose to start at 6:45, so at 6:00 I got out of my car, dropped of my clothing bag with warm clothes for after the race and headed to the port-a-potties. The lines were short at the time, so I still had some time to wait for the start. I was in shorts, a tank, and a long sleeve top. But I was cold. So, I joined some others behind the generator for the lights and kept a little warm. Then one last time I hit the port-a-potties again and got in line for the start. Even among the bodies, I was cold and couldn't wait to get moving.
And then we heard the announcement. The wind was so bad, it was blowing the baricades over which was allowing traffic through on parts of the course. The city would not let us start until the issue could be fixed due to safety concerns. So there we stood. Freezing. Wanting to run but not being able to. The lady next to me said she was leaving if we didn't start in the next 10 minutes. I'm not sure what happened to her. I was thinking the same thing myself, but stayed. I told myself at that point that I didn't care what my time was, I just wanted to get going and get warm.
And finally an hour late, the gun went off and we took off running. At first, my feet felt numb from being so cold and standing on them for an hour. But it felt good to be moving. I had lined up between the 1:50 and 2:00 pacers and just hoped I could keep the 2 hour pacers behind me. But I told myself with the cold and wind that if I didn't break 2 hours today that it just wasn't meant to be.
When I hit the first mile marker I hit my split button and saw 8:43. I was surprised. I felt like I had started slow, but didn't think I could hold that pace for 12 more miles. I slowed a bit to have a 9:24 mile two. That mile was also uphill and into the wind. Then we started back downhill and mile three was 8:54.
Mile 4 was 8:56. Mile 5 was 8:23. Mile 6 was 9:17. It was at this point I was almost wishing I had done the relay of the race so that I would be done, but I told myself to just keep running. No walking.
Mile 7 was 9:04. Mile 8 was 9:10. Mile 9 was 9:11. Mile 10 was 9:12.
Again, I was wishing I was done, but I knew if I kept this pace for the next 3 miles I would break 2 hours. So I told myself what I've been telling myself during my training runs, "You can do this for 30 more minutes. You can do anything for 30 minutes." And I kept going.
Mile 11 was 9:02. I guess I got excited and ready to be done because Mile 12 was 8:55. I knew I was close. I slowed down a bit that last mile, but when I saw the finish I started speeding up. The last 1.1 mile was 9:42.
And just like that I broke the 2 hour mark. Official chip time was 1:57:55. I am very happy with that time and felt good after the race. I got my medal, got some water and gatorade and ate some recovery blocks from Cliff and headed back to get my car.
I guess I no longer have the illusion that I can't go faster.