The 2016 race season is officially OVER for this girl! I ran the Philly 1/2 Marathon on Saturday and am now excited for a bit of physical recovery and mental rejuvenation.
Saturday's race was a tough one for me. I didn't go into race day all-in like I typically do. After running the MCM 3 weeks ago, I didn't do much running at all. My body wasn't prepared to continue training and neither was my mind. I basically did two runs (4 & 5 miles) prior to the Philly 1/2. I felt ok on both runs, but could definitely tell my legs needed a lot more time to fully recover.
Mentally, I wasn't excited to race again so soon after the MCM. I know there are a lot of people who run multiple marathons in a row during the year and never get injured. I'm not one of them! I knew that my body needed more recovery time, but that wasn't an option. If it wasn't for the fact that I had raised a significant amount of money for DetermiNation, for this race, I would have considered deferring. But running for DetermiNation means so much more to me than a good run or a PR.
I ran the Philly 1/2 last year and really enjoyed the course. This year was a different story. With the split of the 1/2 and full into 2 days, came a new 1/2 course. While it's great to run through the streets of Philly, along the Schuylkill River, and next to Boathouse Row, the hills... THE HILLS of Fairmont Park and Strawberry Mansion are anything but great. Heading into the park, I was on pace to crush my 1/2 PR. I hadn't intended to bother looking at my pace, but after seeing my 10k split, I knew I was having a great race. I felt strong. The nagging pain in my hamstring wasn't even an issue. Then came the hills... for what seemed like the next 5 miles! I knew I had to make a decision. Go all out, risk injuring myself more, but possibly running a PR, or pull back and just shoot to finish the race. I chose the later.
While walking during a race isn't something I ever want to do, I decided that rather than burn out my legs on the climbs, I would walk the inclines and then gain the time back on the downhills. This ended up being a really smart strategy for me. Don't get me wrong, I walked as fast as my short legs would carry me. I really feel like the little time I lost walking up the hills served my legs well in the rest of the race, allowing me to cross the finish line instead of recording my first DNF.
Coming into the final mile of the race, my body was done. My legs and feet hurt and I was tired. But seeing the crowd support pick back up and knowing that the finish line was so close, I pushed. I pushed and I struggled. I pushed and I powered through. I felt like I was pushing but not going anywhere. With about 100 yards to go, I heard my name shouted from the other side of the course. I looked back to see a member of DetermiNation cheering me on to the finish. I don't know how she spotted me through all the other runners. I don't know how she knew my name, having never met her. But her support is what propelled me over the finish line. Her voice reminded me why I run, why I have the ability to cross the finish line, why I was there. I'm so grateful for the ability to support the American Cancer Society through a sport I have grown to love. Speaking of love, I have the best family! Having them with me for races means everything!
I didn't finish with a PR, but missing it by less than two minutes gives me encouragement. Not to mention the fact that I ran this year's Philly 1/2 three minutes faster than last year's race - even with the hills! If I can achieve 1:55:08 on tired legs, I can definitely set some loftier goals for 2017!
Funny how I started this running journey two years ago as a means of coping with losing my mom, and now running has grown to be a significant part of my life. Had anyone told me that I would be building training and race calendars for the upcoming year, I would have laughed. I didn't consider myself to be a runner, despite reading over and over again that anyone who runs is a runner. But here I am, after a full year of dedication to the sport, and I'm already mapping out 2017!
I can't wait to see what the new running year holds!