Happy Medal Monday, and boy do I have a beauty from the Rock Hall Half Marathon yesterday. This was one of the hardest races I have done in a while because of the terrible weather we had. It was a battle from start to finish just to earn a medal in this race. I had a game plan going in and was aiming for a big PR, but that was quickly abandoned when the weather began to affect me really early on. I was aiming for 7:30s to 7:45s. The forecast called for light rain, high humidity, and temps in the high 70s. I arrived early and got to the bathroom before the massive line formed and then waited for my friend Rachel from who I won a free entry into this race. When she got there, we snapped a quick pic and then made our way over to the start line. I jumped in between the 1:40 pacer and the 1:45 pacer, as I was aiming for a 1:42-1:43.
Start to 5k
I took off at about a 7:30-7:40 for the first mile, right on track with my goals. I was sweating like crazy by the time we hit mile 1 and it was hard to breathe. I finished the first mile at a 7:35, but could tell that I would not be able to keep that up. I backed off to a 7:45 and people we already starting to drop off and then walk. About a mile and a half in, my friend Kati tapped my shoulder and ran by me. Knowing we were shooting for probably the same pace, I wasn't thrilled with my performance early on. When I saw my mom slightly before the 2 mile mark, I told her to be ready because I might DNF. I felt uncomfortable and a little dizzy. I told myself to push to the 5k mark and then consider going back and seeing if I could just pick up the 5k medal instead. I backed way off on the pace and just decided to take it mile by mile.
5k to 10k
After I made it to the 5k mark, I told myself to just get to the 10k mark. If I could do that, I knew I could finish the race. I settled into a comfortable 9 minute mile and just pushed on. Runners around me were dropping off and starting to walk. Everyone looked miserable and it was a long straight stretch of road. I kept myself in it by focusing on my music and thanking every police officer I passed. Once I got over the 6 mile mark, something changed. I felt reborn and was able to kick up the pace. I passed my mom a little after the 10k mark and then we headed down into MLK park, which I knew was mostly downhill. I took a couple gummy blocks and some Nuun and kicked it up to 7:55 as I logged a downhill mile.
10k to 11 Miles
I felt great as I pushed through the park. Runners who had passed me earlier were starting to drop off and I began to pass more people. At about 8.5 miles, I caught back up to Kati which was great because we ran together to about the 11 mile mark talking to each other and pushing each other on. At 9.5 we came out of the mark and onto Marginal road, right along the lake. There was a slight headwind which cooled it off slightly. The Marginal road strecth is terrible though because it is almost a 4 mile stretch where you can see the Cleveland Skyline and how far you are away as you travel the straight road all the way back to the Rock Hall. I ran with Kati until the 11 mile water stop where we both walked through the stop, but she took off right after and I slowed up to take another gummy block. I was happy that this was my first stop given I felt that I would DNF back before 2 miles.
11 to the Finish
I took back off, keeping Kati in my sights and staying around an 8:30. I stopped and walked at 11.75 to quickly take off my shirt because it was completely soaked and I was uncomfortable. After that I kicked it up to an 8:20 for my last 1.25 miles. I pushed on and could see the final hill with a little over a quarter of a mile to go. I grabbed the guy next to me and said "let's go!" and asked him to sprint the last bit with me. We pushed hard up the last hill and sprinted down the last stretch. The crowd went nuts for our kick to the end and the someone yelled at me to "beat him!". We crossed together and exchanged a high five and thank yous. I realized then that we had actually met at the hat trick race earlier this year.
I met up with my mom after and hung out around the finish, waiting for my friends to come in. Everyone seemed to agree that this was one of the roughest races we've faced in a while. The humidity took its toll on everyone as times overall were slower than expected. I finished with a 1:52 which is about 7:30 off of my PR. However, to put it in perspective, it is also about 17:30 better than my slowest half marathon. I also was really happy to have put in a very solid negative split in this half, which is something I haven't done in a couple years. This was also a very good mental victory day for me today in learning to push through the pain and against my doubts and to come out with a solid finish overall. While it wasn't the race I was hoping for, and I'm still slightly displeased with not at least breaking 1:50, I'm still mostly happy with how this worked on and ready to focus back in on my final few weeks of marathon training.