It's official: I can do anything.
I was not looking forward to the race yesterday, I'll admit. I was more than a little annoyed that I was going to miss a dance workshop for it, I hadn't been making the distance suggested by my training runs, and frankly I had given up on the idea of distance running altogether -- preferring the "safety" of a shorter race that could be completed in a half hour or so.
All last week I was in a rather bad mood about it, and that took its toll on my diet and my dancing, which was stupid and juevnile. I promised myself, "Just walk this thing and all you have left to do is the Half. You don't ever have to run beyond 3 miles again." I stomped around all week, and didn't run ONCE. But Friday came, and when I went down for packet pickup, I was a little more inspired, and yeah, even sort of excited. "Just run 3 miles, and walk the rest," I told myself. "In two hours or so it will all be over."
Up at 5 on Saturday to drive to my Mom's so she could take me to the starting line. She braided my hair, tried to feed me some nectarines, and told me she'd be proud of me no matter what my time or place ended up being. Moms rock.
I lined up with the runners, at the very back mind you, but with the runners this time. I actually heard the gun shot go off, which was cool. I shuffled along with the crowd until I crossed the timing mat, and then I settled into my slow (11-minute mile) jog.
The course started where they all start -- at the YMCA -- but then led into a local park, where we made a figure 8 and could see the runners ahead and behind, and eventually took us on a path I'd never been on before, that parallels a creek and was surrounded by lush greenery. It was nice. It was cool out (7 in the morning even this time of year isn't ungodly) and being in the park-like surroundings was really peaceful. I was having fun, despite my attitude.
My plan was to run 5K, then walk the rest. But when I hit the 3-mile marker, I wanted to push it to 4 miles, which is what I'd been aiming for on my short training runs. Well at the 4-mile marker, I was still feeling good, so I thought, "Oh let's just go five miles, just for fun, then walk it."
Somehow I missed the five mile marker. I had Dory from Finding Nemo in my head and she was singing, "Just keep swimming," which I guess distracted me. I saw a water station up ahead and slowed down to take a cup, walking for the one minute allowed by the Galloway plan, then picked up the pace again. Imagine my surprise when I saw the 6-mile marker. I checked my watch -- pace was still almost dead on for an 11-minute mile, and I was feeling great. So I began to wonder, "Can I run this whole thing?"
I fantasized about running to my Mom at the finish line saying "Mom, I RAN the whole race!!" I fantasized about bragging on Spark that I ran the whole thing. It felt good, so I thought, why not go for it?
Allowing myself a one-minute walk break (or less) at the water stations made me realize something important: walking was just as hard on the hips and legs as jogging was! So all the walk "break" did was slow me down!
I hit mile 9 at a slightly faster pace, so I slowed to walk my 60 seconds, but the bystanders at the side of the road were yelling and cheering, so I picked it back up and didn't quite sprint to the finish line. :) I crossed the mat at exactly 1:40, maintaining that consistent 11-minute mile, and not ridiculously exhausted, which made me realize the distance was doable for the Half Marathon. I'm going to RUN that darn thing too!
Final results placed me 26 out of 49 for my age group, and pretty squarely in the middle for all finishers. I'm happy. I think my next running goal is going to get a little faster, especially since I know now that it's the HEAT that's preventing my from finishing my long runs. So yeah, that means I'll be getting up at 5 a few times during the week to run early, at least until Oct - Nov, when it cools off in the afternoons.
And yes, Mom was proud ;)