We’re always hinting at the mental game that fitness can become; sometimes we have to dig deep in the mind to convince our muscles that they can keep moving. Saturday’s race flipped the coin on me, my legs spoke loud and clear.
Thanks, D, for trekking to the Starting line with us, playing photographer and being there at the finish!
Our 7 a.m. arrival left barely enough time to get wander around, settle for the outdoor bathrooms (aka, port-a-potties), give our extra layer to D (left photo) and loop around to Corral 2 (right photo). Crowded? Of course. But it didn’t quite feel like we were surrounded by 24,000 people. Kudos, RnR! You’re tricky, with your planning.
Mind memo: it may have been a huge mistake to actually race on Sunday, just six days ago. I may not have the speed today that I’ll really need to push that 1:39 barrier. I may just have to play it by ear.
Legs: Excited! Jittery! Nervous! I remember every single one of the hills we’re about to hit, every step. 1:39? Gotcha covered.
Miles 1 – 4(ish): Flat, partially downhill and everything I love about running in DC! We head toward the regal Capitol dome, sneak by Union Station and head onto Constitution Avenue (with a few course adjustments this year, we didn’t spend as much time on Constitution).
To the left? The monument (photo below actually taken from the other side – say hello to the Cherry blossoms!). To the right? The Obamas! Good morning!
I paid some attention to my splits, and was trying not to back things up too much. Mile 3 clocked in at “6:54”, which was my first clue that Garmin was goin’ rogue for the day. Otherwise, things were right where they needed to be. My mind talked to itself from each side – I can maintain this vs. eh, we’ll see how it goes…
The brain is a fickle friend sometimes. Loyalty rests in muscle memory.
Miles 5 – 8: THE HILL(s). We start the climb at the bottom of 18th Street (hey Emily!) on the Mall. It doesn’t really stop until we reach Adam’s Morgan, and every time I run this course I’m grateful that I run hills more often than not. At the turn onto Columbia Rd my heart rate was quick to remind me that we were racing today, not “just” running.
Oh, you’re done for the day, G? I see how it is.
My watch switched back to the “Time/Date” screen, and stayed there for the rest of the race. Mile splits still popped up on the screen, but generally I was doing the math in my head every time I saw a race clock at the mile markers*.
From here we enter the tunnel of rolling hills – you think you’re done, then you’re not. Then you think you might be….but you’re not! Distraction came in the form of the best spectators in DC – festive costumes, signs, yard-parties, tailgates & rockin’ bands.
Miles 9-11: Are we there yet? Am I done? Did the sun just get 20* hotter in 5 seconds?! I remembered feeling like I was flying last year – going about this same pace, but having had no intention of doing so. I was back home, and it felt so good. My mind finally did me a favor, trusting that if that PR was possible one year ago, this one would be, too.
*Math be damned! I know I’ve got this, and I can do it without staring at the timer on my wrist.
Turning onto H street meant I finally got to see the Back on My Feet crew – they rock. Screaming & cheering and genuinely SO EXCITED for all of out there. You guys are amazing – thanks for the needed boost!
….Miles 12 & 13: Not fun, not euphoric, not enjoyable. All I know is that I was closing in that goal, my mind was anxious and my muscles just seemed to calmly take over. They knew exactly what to do and how to do it. The last few splits (starting at mile 9) were the most consistent I had all day – 7:17, 7:15, 7:17, 7:30, 7:17.
13 – 13.1 taught me exactly what that puke threshold feels like. It’s totally worth it to check that Goal box.
2012 Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Half-Marathon Official Results:
1:38:56 – avg. 7;33
Gender: 164 / 10,707
Age Group (25-29): 51 / 3025
Overall: 664 / 16291
Congrats to all who finished,
and a huge kudos to those who tackled the FULL on a very warm, sunny spring day!