Since it was my first half-marathon, I had no idea what to expect from myself. My longest training run was 12 miles and it took me 2 hours and 21 minutes to complete, so I estimated 2:30 for the entire 13.1 miles. Since my knee was still hurting when I ran 3 miles on Saturday, the day before the race, I thought I might not even make the 2:30, but would be happy just to finish.
The morning of the race was kind of weird. I'm used to being at a triathlon, setting up transition, around 6:30am. This race didn't start until 10:00am. We had to be at the buses that would take us to the half-marathon start (the full marathon is a loop around the lake) by 9:00am. The buses were waiting less than a mile from my house. My husband drove me over at 8:50am. I didn't know what to do with myself all morning.
I warmed up by alternately jogging and walking for about 15 minutes before the race started. My knee was stiff and sore. When the gun went off and I started running, my knee hurt. Knowing this was the last race this year, I decided to let it hurt and I kept running.
Sometime between miles 3 and 4 my knee stopped hurting. I didn't feel it at all. I have no idea why. Maybe the running gods thought I deserved a break. I was checking my time at the mile markers and was running just over 10 minute miles, which is faster than I expected. All I had to do was keep that pace and I would come in before 2:30.
When we made the turn onto Route 9 I really started to have fun. I logged many miles up and down this road while I was training. I knew all the hills and where the potholes and bumps were. People I knew were watching from lawn chairs at the bottom of their driveways or side streets or volunteering at water stations, so I got to hear my name and cheers often. There were bands and musicians along the route and Mark Piper, our infamous local singer-songwriter, managed to get out "Go Debbie" in the middle of a song. I ran past my parents' house and was greeted by my family and some of the neighbors. My aunt gave me water at the next water stop. It was like having the home field advantage.
When I reached mile 12, I still felt great. I knew I had more than a mile left in me, and couldn't help thinking that I needed a swim and a bike ride to go with this run. My pace hadn't slowed at all. I was loving every step.
To get to the finish line we had to make a right turn, run past the church where I teach my yoga classes, then go another block to the town beach. As the time on the finish chute got close enough to read, I realized that I could finish under 2:15 if I hustled. I had plenty left to go faster, so I sprinted and finished with a time of 2 hours, 14 minutes and 21 seconds.
I came in 257th out of the 526 runners who finished the half-marathon (22nd out of 52 in my age group), which puts me squarely in the middle of the pack and - I can't believe I get to write this - in the top half of the finishers. I've never gotten to use the word "top" in any of my race reports, so you can imagine how excited I am.
Next year, I'm trying the full marathon. But for now I'm putting my running shoes in the closet to focus on my yoga practice, put a new knitting project on my needles and spend more time writing. And I plan to spend some time in another pair of shoes. Stay tuned...