Months ago I came across this race and was pretty pumped that it was on my birthday. What better way to spend your birthday than running, right? The race was on part of Kenyon College’s campus. I’d never been there before but waking up at 5:15 to get there was no picnic. I arrived about 45 minutes before race time, picked up my race packet and did a little warm up. Surprisingly I wasn’t nervous, I felt relaxed and I was ready to give this race a shot. I saw Molly right before the start and was excited that I’d have a fellow Muskie out there! (She ran awesome btw, finished 1st female overall and PR’d!)
We started the race on the track and ran about a lap before we headed off into town. The path was pretty crowded but I quickly found a pace I felt comfortable with. Unfortunately this pace was 9:00, and I knew I had to slow down if I wanted to make it through the race. Suddenly a “small mountain” appeared and we ran uphill for about the next half mile. Definitely slowed my pace down!
The next couple of miles were rolling hills, which I normally hate, but after my long run in Wooster a few weeks back I felt a lot better. Once we hit mile 4 we started the out and back in the woods. It was a paved course, and very peaceful. At this point in the race I really took time to reflect. I never really set a goal for the race. I honestly didn’t know what to expect. The last time I ran back to back half marathons I felt the pain early in the race, so I was almost expecting to feel the drain in my legs at any moment.
I checked my watch about every five minutes and noticed that my pace was still a little quicker than what I was used to. I bounced around between 9:25-9:40. I came in at mile 6 right around 55 minutes, but I was actually feeling pretty good about it. At this point, I decided to just let my legs do the work, I kept telling myself don’t think, just run. I wasn’t going to let my watch control my race. I kept a pretty steady pace throughout the next four miles and pretty soon I was closing in on the last 5k. By this point my knees were hurting and I could tell I was in need of a major water stop.
I kept checking my time, but I reminded myself that anything could happen. I was still ahead of my current PR, but I tried not to let it get to my head. I was starting to think that all of the hard work I had put in this year could finally be paying off. I made it to mile 12 and I was right around 1:56-1:57. I knew there was no way I’d make it under 2:00, but I felt I could score a big PR. I picked up my pace by a few seconds and just let my mind go blank. I saw the finish line, and knew I was there. I still had a lap on the track to do before I could stop. By this point I had nothing left in me, no kick at the finish, just a steady pace until I crossed that line.
I could not stop smiling. I got a 9 MINUTE PR!!!!!
Words can’t even describe how I was feeling. I couldn’t believe I knocked so much time off of my race. I didn’t expect I would do that well, this early, especially coming off a race the previous weekend. Colorado must have been good for me. It was the perfect race and the perfect day, and I couldn’t be happier.
After this weekend, I feel so much better about the rest of the year. I don’t feel pressure to really knock off the minutes, I can relax, enjoy the races and have fun. But this doesn’t stop me from setting up my next goal, to eventually break 2:00. If I don’t do it this year, it’s ok. I’m proud of my running and all that I’ve accomplished so far. It’s still early in the year and anything could happen. In the meantime I have the Love-A-Stray 5k Fur Fun Run this weekend followed by the Cleveland Half a few weeks later. I’m so excited to see what these next few races will bring, it truly is the year of races!