The St. Louis Half Marathon was Sunday and it was awesome!
My pace team leader hosted a pasta party the night before and everyone was talking about how nervous they were. I wasn’t – but only because I had no goals for the race. I had been injured for the past month and had run very little as a result over the past two weeks. I figured if I could do 10 minute miles I would be happy. Plus, you know, no goals = no pressure.
The team was supposed to meet Sunday morning in front of the courthouse, but I got the time wrong and missed them. While I wanted to see everyone, I actually was a little glad that I wouldn’t have to run with anyone I knew. Again, avoiding all pressure to perform.
The start is divided up by your expected pace and I positioned myself just in front of the sign for a 10 minute pace. When we started running, I realized that my honesty put me in the minority, because I spent the first 5 miles passing people left and right. I was darting around people, jumping up onto the sidewalk, trying not to get boxed in. Granted, I ran faster than a 10 minute pace, but some of these people were walking before the first mile marker. And I was tripping over them – it really messes with the flow of the runner to have liars running the race (do I sound bitter? You should have read my mind during the race – now those were bitter thoughts…) And it wasn’t just the walkers – I passed people who obviously could not have really thought they were going to run 8 or 9 minute miles. Which means they, for some reason, thought it was to their advantage (screw the rest of us) to position themselves in the 8 to 9 minute pace sections even though they were running/walking a 11 to 14 minute paces. Go figure.
By the 8th mile I was hurting. My feet were numb and burning and my body was exhausted. This was where the lack of training due to injuries caught up with me. I swore I would never do this again. Several times. But I kept at it, and though I know I slowed down, I don’t think it was too bad.
At 9.5 miles the half marathon turns around and heads back to the start/finish area. The marathoners branch off for the extra 13.1 miles they have to run. I felt sorry for them.
I stopped seeing the mile markers after mile 9. I only had eyes for the water stations as I had decided after the first one that I had to stop if I wanted to actually get any water or Gatorade in my stomach. Apparently the art of drinking and running is something I have yet to perfect. While I only walked for maybe 10 seconds – enough time to drink 6 ounces or so – it was enough to keep me going and keep me dreaming of the next water station.
I was getting really discouraged that I didn’t seem to be making any progress. As I said above, my quest for water stations apparently made me blind to mile markers and I didn’t think I was ever going to get to mile 10. Then all of a sudden I heard a volunteer call out that this was the last mile. I was pleasantly surprised (if anything about a half marathon can be described as pleasant, that is) and picked up my pace a little. I started to hear the announcer encouraging people across the finish line, the spectators started to get thicker and, finally, the gigantic US flag signaling the start/finish area was in sight.
I couldn’t believe how much my body hurt at the end. But, honestly, it was a good hurt. Today, I’m on continuous Ibuprofin, as the hip pain that kept me from a solid training schedule for the past month is still present and really, really mad at me for not listening.
Next up: St. Louis Track Club’s half marathon in October. Under 2 hours. See ya there!