I try not to litter the blog with too many posts detailing my fitness endeavors (if you're ever interested, you can follow along with my work outs over on DailyMile), but this weekend I accomplished something I've had on my mind since my first half marathon in September 2010: I finished 13.1 miles in under an hour and 55 minutes!
That's a PR (personal record) by four minutes, and I've kept this super-secret goal (finish in 1:55) in the back of my mind in both my previous half marathons, but never quite got there. On Saturday, I was finally able to cross that nagging goal off my list!
The Wisconsin Half Marathon is in Kenosha, just about 45 minute south of Milwaukee, right on Lake Michigan. I fell in love with the course last year - you run through a beautiful neighborhood filled with stately homes, through the cute little shops in the downtown area and then along the shores of Lake Michigan. It's mostly flat, and my favorite part of the course is that there's a turn-around near mile 8, so before the turn-around you're able to see all the speedy runners before you (you start running a little faster when you see all those elite runners speeding by before you) and then once you hit the turn-around, you're running against all the runners coming after you - eliciting plenty of high fives and "way to go"s and smiles (I was even able to pick out and high five my friend Abby from the sea of nearly 2500 runners!).
Photo courtesy of my friend Abby, post race. Not our most glamorous photo ever, but we look about as cute as two girls who ran 13.1 miles could!
The day didn't start out so great, as I awoke to rain, and it was raining fairly hard the entire drive down to Kenosha. I was certain I'd be slogging through the run in soggy shoes, but as luck would have it, the rain let up about 10 minutes before start time! Speaking of 10 minutes before start time, I just so happened to still be in the car at that point. There was a detour coming into the city so traffic was completely backed up miles from the start. As we inched closer, I got so worried I was going to miss the start! Finally, we got within about a quarter mile from the start, and I hopped out of the car to run to the corral. I spent the national anthem waiting in line for the Port-a-Potty, and made it to the corral just as they were counting down 10 seconds to race time. No time to stretch, do any strides or mentally prepare. I didn't think it would fare well for me.
But I felt great the entire time. Often on long runs, my left leg gives me the most grief, either with quad soreness or hamstring tenderness. I felt barely any discomfort in my legs until the last couple of miles when I kicked in some more speed. I don't know if I was zoned out or in the zone or what, but this race flew by. By the time I glanced at my watch and realized I had already run 9.5 miles, I couldn't believe it - I barely felt fatigued, and it seemed like I'd only been running less than an hour at that point!
All that fatigue waited to hit until the last two miles of the race. My legs went from feeling A-okay to toasty toast around the eleventh mile. The finish of my race wasn't pretty - I'm sure I was hunched over, and my breathing was super labored at this point, but I pushed as hard as I could because I knew I was so close to reaching my goal. When I crossed the finish line, I knew I'd set a new PR, but knew I was cutting it close to the 1:55 goal.
After the race I found Eric, drank some chocolate milk and shivered in the super cold, damp wind. I was absolutely freezing out there, so I changed into warmer, drier clothes. I ran into Abby again and got my one photo of the day (I'd removed the memory card from our camera earlier in the week, so Eric wasn't able to take any pictures of me during the race! What a bummer - especially on a PR race day!!). It was so cold out there I didn't even stick around for my free beer and brat. It wasn't worth waiting in line at that point!
I kept checking for race results on my phone the entire drive home. But it wasn't until I got home and was snacking on a banana that I saw the results: 1:54:34!!! I screamed, jumped up and down and did a happy dance in the living room. I'd done it! I'd finally done it! Out of 2,418 runners, I finished 605th overall, was the 199th girl, and 38th finisher in the women's 25-29 division. My average pace was 8:44/mile. I'm not the fastest runner in the world and won't be qualifying for Boston anytime soon, but I'll be proud about finishing in the top 25 percent!
I was pretty sore yesterday (my cool-down was nonexistent and I barely did any stretching after the race - such a no-no), mostly in my quads, but my left hamstring was in rough shape, too. Today I'm better but still not feeling 100 percent. We celebrated my PR by eating some delicious Mexican and enjoying a few beverages at some local bars in our neighborhood. Despite the gloomy weather, it was a fantastic day, and I'm so happy I was able to meet that goal that I've been chasing for nearly 20 months now.
I've got another half in September, and because I PRed on Saturday, this next one is going to be a no-pressure, just-enjoy-yourself run - and one that's sponsored by the Milwaukee Brewers! The finish is running around the warning track at Miller Park, so it will be the perfect race to just kick back and enjoy the run and the sights.
An incredible sense of accomplishment: I haz it.