On a whim, just to see what I could do by myself, I signed up for a half-marathon. We all trekked down to the beach for a relaxing time. The reality of having two days of lounging before a race has been unheard of because I usually work the day before. I was never and excited all at the same time. The one thing that I was mainly concerned with was running a flat course. Living in Elgin, there is an abundance of hills in the area so the thought of running only a flat course actually made me nervous. As I expressed my nervousness to man of my friends, the chuckles that followed were priceless. I felt my trepidation was justified. In my mind I had to run a sub two hour half again. I had done it at Sandhills and I expected no less of myself this time either.
With the pressure of a sub two half which I placed on myself, I knew I had to have a game plan, one that was made while in my rational mind, not in the throws of the race where all rational goes out the window. I figured out through much reading that I could squish the water cups at the stops and make a spout to be able to drink on the run. I realized that I could bite the tops off my gels to keep my hands from being sticky and to be able to keep running at the same time I was downing it. I figured out the splits I needed to be able to achieve my goal. Those splits haunted me for nights on end before the race. I was running numbers in my head all night long. I would wake up staring at the ceiling while repeating I need to be at this time at the 10K mark. I was not obsessed, well yes I was and am, I had and have a goal and I expect nothing less of myself, ridiculous as it may seem anything less is unacceptable to me. The last and most important element of my game plan was not to walk at all. The mind is a mighty powerful thing. It can make or break the game plan.
I discussed with my family if they would be upset if I just rode the shuttle to the start line. I needed to focus, get in my zone (as cheesy as that sounds) but on race day there is no room for worrying about making it the start line on time, less stress is better. They were pretty excited that they didn't have to wake up quite as early as I did, so there was no argument there.
I brought my own alarm clock to the hotel, a fear of mine is that the hotel alarm clock won't work, so even the smallest of things help me sleep, a security blanket of sorts. I slept pretty well the night before.
Beep. Beep. Beep. (alarm clock sound effects) It's 4:00 am on race day. Coffee pot started, check. Oatmeal made, check. Protein shake consumed, check. Bath drawn, check. Number on shirt, check. Turn on the news to catch the weather, check and oh god, the temperature is 65 with 100% humidity, check. Thankful to have run all summer in the heat and for hill work, check, check, check! Well my shuttle left at 5:45 so at 5:30 Nik walked downstairs with me to see me off.
I boarded the shuttle with a group of women who were running their first half-marathon. I just listened. The majority of them were nervous, excited and forty that day, celebrating their birthdays by running the race. I wasn't sure how it would be to line up by myself. This race was my first solo half. I got off the shuttle and walked forward to the start line, it was dark of course. I scouted out where I wanted to line up. There were corrals, 6-7 minute pace, 7-8 minute pace, 8-9 minute pace and 10 minute and over were grouped together. I decided to line up in 7-8 minute pace.
As I was standing there anticipating my start, I was approached by a girl. She was really tall and thin. She was alone too. Her name, Michelle. She asked me what my goal was and she and I discussed a few things. I asked her what her goal was and she told me sub 1:30.