Monday, September 24, 2012

Zooma Cape Cod Half Marathon: Redemption

On June 3rd, I ran the hardest race of my life.

It was likely a combination of factors.  I was experimenting with my diet to try & reduce the inflammation in my leg.  I was physically tired due to various factors.  I didn't sleep well.  I started too fast and pushed too hard.

Who knows exactly what happened.  All I know is it was a half marathon, and it was awful.  Hard. Horrible.  Wretched.

I cried. Literally cried I felt so awful.  Do you know how hard it is to run when you are crying?  I only kept running because it meant it would be over sooner.

Needless to say, I had mixed feelings when I won an entry to the Zooma Cape Cod half marathon through the running club I'm in.

We drove down Friday afternoon to stay in a place my husband vacationed at as a child.

A few miles away, we came upon this:

Do you see that rainbow off in the distance?  It almost looked like a reflection from one of those prisms you hang in a window.  Soon it became this:

And then this:

A double rainbow.

I couldn't help but wonder: would this race bring a redemption of sorts?  Would it restore my confidence in my body's ability to run a race?

Everyone told me not to race. Treat it as a training run, they said.  The marathon is only 3 weeks away, and you should be tapering.

So I had no expectations.  I was hoping to run a 2:05 half, but hadn't even done the math to figure out what pace that would be.  My previous half marathon times were 2:12-ish, 2:00:00.0 on the dot, and 2:09-ish (the hardest race of my life).  I figured I could likely do 2:05 without pushing myself too hard.

I got to connect with Colleen Fit Bee before the race (love that woman), and we hung around and chatted for a few.

Before we knew it, it was time to run.

So I ran.

My legs felt heavy the whole time.  They usually do.  Running does not come naturally to me; it never has. It has always been hard work.  I've never had that "light" or "fresh" feeling that runners talk about. I keep running because I can & others can't.

So I wasn't concerned that my legs felt heavy.  I was maintaining about a 9:05 pace initially.  Then the hills set in and my mapping app sort of lost me.

This race was hilly.  Very, very hilly.  We didn't have a serious downhill until after mile 6. And then we went right back uphill.

Around that time, I decided I felt good enough to push myself a little harder.  I kept telling myself I could slow down if I needed to.  At about mile 7 or 8, my phone said I was running a 9:14 pace.  It was more like 9:20 based on the difference between the course markers and the miles my phone thought we were running (i.e. much shorter miles!).

I just kept running.  I ran fast up the hills, even though it was hard.  I ran & ran & ran.

At mile 10, I timed a mile.  8:35.  Not bad at all.  At mile 12, my phone said I'd been running somewhere around an hour and 50-51 minutes.  I couldn't quite read it.  I did the math and figured out I was pretty close to getting a personal best.

So I really, really ran.  I figured if nothing else, I could get in really close to 2:01 or 2:02, which would be amazing on such a difficult course.

I was near the end and rounded the corner.  The big clock said. 1:59.  1:59?????  Would half marathon #4 finally break the 2 hour barrier?

I sprinted and gave it my all.

Almost done - check out that joy!

The clock read 1:59:24.  I gave all the glory to God.


My official time was 1:59:13.  Amazing!

You can see my dear friend Colleen in the reflection! She's so speedy she PR'ed with 1:39 AND placed 2nd for her age group! And did I mention she has lost over 100 lbs?  An inspiration!

Thanks, Zooma ladies, for contacting Parkway Running Club & giving me this amazing opportunity!  The race was unique in so many ways.  It was almost all women.  There were pacers!  I've never seen pacers in a race before.  In fact, after mile 12, we did a little out & back down a side street. Seeing the 2:00 pacers let me know I was close!  Instead of a race medal, we got a cool running necklace that said "Run" on one side and "Zooma 12" on the other.  There was food, music, and lots of fun!

I run because I can.

If you haven't yet read about why I will run a marathon in 19 days, please do.  I will be running 26.2 miles to raise awareness & funds in order to trample on child sex trafficking.  Please consider giving to this great cause.