To be honest, I wasn’t sure I was going to run this race. I saw the t-shirt and medal a while ago and that was my single motivation, I’m a sucker for race swag. But as the day got closer, I knew I had to run the race, not just for the shirt, but because I knew I had to get my long run in. I ran it last year and I felt good most of the way. The end wasn’t my best shot, but I really enjoyed the race. I really didn’t know what was in store for me this year, but I’m glad I signed up. I was in the same boat as last year, coming back from an injury with limited training. I had hopes that the slight down hill of the race would be to my benefit and allow me to finish in one piece.
The day started off chilly and rainy, almost perfect weather. I tried to stay warm in my car as I mentally prepared myself for my longest run in 5 weeks. Even after a Clif Bar and some sport beans, I was still starving, so naturally I tried something new on race day with a Honey Stinger Waffle. It was delish, and lemon of course. My only hope was that it wouldn’t come back to haunt me later on. About 10 minutes before the race started it stopped raining, and I headed to the start line. I wasn’t nervous, just ready to run.
The first couple of miles felt pretty good. I started off at a slower pace, mostly because it was crowded. I made my way through the familiar path and was excited to head into the park. (Sidenote: I actually lived in Berea for a short time, I was right off the parkway, so running this course was a daily thing for me.) I was hitting the miles in a 9:30 pace and was feeling pretty confident that I could keep it up for a while. The sun was starting to peak through the clouds, and the views were beautiful. I’m a sucker for the bridges and leaves of the parkway, so anytime I run through it I make sure to take advantage of the sights.
I was coming up on mile 6 at 56 minutes. My time was much quicker than I thought it would be. I quickly starting counting miles and tried to figure out my estimated finish time. As quickly as I thought about it, I shoved it out of my mind. I wasn’t going to stress about my finish time, I hadn’t run more than 8 miles for quite some time. Who knew what would happened once I made it past that mark.
Soon enough I started to feel the effects of the winding path. I had tried to run along the center line, but with the course still pretty full I ended up all over the road. The biggest downfall of this race is that even though it’s pretty flat, the road is never even. Most of the way you’re putting stress on one leg or another and I was feeling it pretty bad. However, it didn’t slow down my pace too much yet. I was able to get to an 8:50 pace, but kept myself between 9:05-9:20. No idea where this speed came from.
Right around mile 7 I heard my name being called, it was Heather! Seeing her for a few minutes helped to keep me motivated to continue on and hopefully make it past that 8 mile mark. And once I got to mile 8, I took a break. Not a short one, but I walked while I took some sport beans, and tried to shake out my legs. I was at 1:18 (I think) so I had some time that I could use to make sure I’d have enough energy to get to the end. I knew the hill was coming up, and it would be tough. My strategy going in was to attempt to run as much as I could and walk what I couldn’t run. I’m not sure if it was the fear of the hill or all the hills I have to run in Medina, but I made it up didn’t have to walk a step.
But once I got up the hill, it all went down hill from there. My legs started to really hurt and my pace slowed down. I took advantage of the water stops, and I even walked a bit in mile 11. I swear that is the longest mile of the entire race. I knew my time was somewhat still decent, but had no idea how well I had done until I crossed that finish line. I finished at 2:08, just three minutes off my PR and 13 minutes faster than last year. I honestly didn’t think I had it in me, and I’m still surprised with Sunday’s results.
River Run was by far not my best work, but I don’t think I’ve ever worked that hard for a race. I had a strong start and got my pace down to where it should be to go sub 2. Even with limited training and sore legs, I know that I can still bounce back and prepare for Columbus. Racing this past weekend gave me the confidence I needed for marathon training. And maybe that sub 2 isn’t that far off…