Part one of my race recap can be found here.
The race was scheduled to start at 7:00am, so we woke up at the ungodly hour of 4:30am to eat breakfast and get ready. Last year transportation was a total clusterfuck so this year we avoided the buses and biked downtown to our friend’s apartment, where we stored our bikes to pick up after the race. The bike ride there was fine--4 miles, downhill all the way--but the best part was after the race when I realized we still had to bike all the way home, uphill. HAHAHAH just kidding, I almost cried. Luckily we’d had to the foresight to bring our bus passes and the transit authority had gotten their shit together and provided enough buses for everyone to get home. I have never before been so happy to ride a bus.
We got downtown around 6am, met up with our friend, stowed the bikes, and then headed to the start line and into the 2-hour goal finish time corral. It was freezing, of course, since the sun was hardly even up, but we knew it was going to get much warmer very quickly. We stood around and chatted for a little bit and then before we knew it the race had started...and ten minutes later we crossed the start line and were off.
D and I ran together for the first six miles, and during those six miles I felt fine. Not amazing--I was running faster than is comfortable for me in hopes of improving my time--but fine. I told D to run ahead of me because I could tell I was holding him back. He took off around mile 7, and then things started going downhill. Or should I say uphill. Here’s the elevation chart, just to give you some context.
This is one hilly race. I’d done it once before, but this year felt so much harder, and I was really pushing myself to run faster and improve my time. For most of the second half of the race I was kind of running by myself, between the 3:50 marathon and 3:55 marathon pace groups, which felt like a pace I could maintain. Then all of the sudden this whole swarm of people engulfed me, and I realized that the 3:55 pace group had caught up to and were passing me. After a few moments of blind panic I sprinted ahead of them and shuffled through my ipod to find a song whose tempo would maintain me. I put that song on repeat for the remaining five miles, and as a result never, ever want to hear it again.
Once we finally turned off Carson Street and onto the last bridge, I knew the end was in sight. I also knew that bridge was really effing hard, and I think a little part of me died out there that day, being blown around in the wind and inhaling the grit from the road and going up, up, uphill the whole way. That was lowest point of the race for me, and knowing that I was running toward D, who was waiting for me at the finish line, is the reason I didn’t stop and take a nap out there on that awful bridge.
After we crossed the bridge it was a steep uphill and about another mile and a half to the finish. I didn’t know how close to my goal time I was at this point--I started way after the gun and it’s hard to do math when you’re that tired--but I had a feeling I was approaching 2 hours. My mind sharply narrowed into one thing: beat two hours. I didn’t look out at the amazing view on the top of the hill that my legs had just propelled me up, I didn’t look around at my fellow runners and marvel at the spirit of human achievement, I didn’t even look down at the road to see myself put one foot in front of the other. I stared straight ahead and repeated to myself over and over again “2 hours 2 hours 2 hours.” I crossed the finish line at 1:54:55 and nearly collapsed into D’s waiting arms.
Here are my splits, if you're interested in that kind of thing:
8:46 (that effing bridge)
I'm really glad I did the race again this year, and that D and I had the chance to train and run together for his first half marathon, but I'm not going to lie: it was hard. It was so hard that it wasn't really that much fun. I had been battling knee and quad issues so I kind of slacked off the last two weeks of training, thinking that my prior work would carry me through the race. We had a really cold winter and spring this year, and then were blasted with a very warm race day, which I'm sure had something to do with how we all felt during the race (hot and tired is how we felt, ugh). Still, I don't know that I will ever run that fast again. At least for me, sub-two hours hurts. Although we are already signed up for a fall half marathon. Some people never learn...