My last installment was speaking to my love for trail running, how it helps me on so many levels, and that I was curious how I would do in a half marathon I was considering to run in February. Two months later I’ve made time to write about that run, and what I learned from it.
I purposefully didn’t sign up for the half marathon ahead of time because I really wasn’t sure if I wanted to try it. I also have issues with commitment, and prefer my weekends to be open for adventures. The Saturday morning of the race I woke up early and decided it was worth a $50 last-minute sign up fee to at least try it, even if just to say I did. It wasn’t raining, and I was familiar with the course at Soaring Eagle Park. What the hell?
I pulled up and started walking towards the sign up booth. I notice a man that also noticed me, and we stared at each other for a moment trying to figure out how we knew each other. Quickly we realize it was from a local run group and we start up typical runner chit chat. I shared that this is my first half marathon, and I figured it would be good for me since there wasn’t much elevation gain or loss. I felt like I was slapped upside the head when he said “Yeah, that’s why these are hardest! You have to work the whole time! No downhill reprieve!” I laughed it off, but certainly had an “oh crap!” moment on the inside… I really should have thought of that aspect!
I started off strong, even with the dozens of runners passing me right off the bat. Quickly I realized I needed to focus on “slow and steady” or I would bonk out too quickly. By mile 3 most everyone had spread out along the trail, and I only had the occational runner passing me. By mile 6.5, and the first of two loops on the course, I was super proud of myself. All I could think was “Ok! Let’s just do that one more time!” Mile 8 I was wondering what the hell I was thinking… then I had a little rebound on mile 10 and was able to keep up a good pace. Miles 11 and 12 hurt… my knees hurt, and I had to walk up a few of the little hills. I can’t tell you how happy I was to see a few other people walking as well. By this point everyone was so spread out, I felt like I must be last, or close to it! I really had no clue what a “good” time was for a half marathon on that terrain, but I was just happy that I hadn’t quit. I think I recall actually saying out loud “Oh thank God!” when I came around that last corner and saw the finish line! I crossed at 2 hours 28 minutes, and turns out I wasn’t even last!! Almost smack dab in the middle of my age group and gender.
I think I waited so long to write about this experience because I have been reflecting on it for some time. What did I learn? Will I want to complete more runs like this?
I learned that I am stronger than I thought, and I am very proud of myself for accomplishing a run like this. I only really started to trail run over distances more than a few miles this past summer. When I’m running, often people will ask me what I’m training for, and I never have an answer. I just love to run, and want to be active, healthy, and explore!
I learned that I really don’t care about free swag. After the run, there were booths set up, people talking on microphones, and raffles to enter in. Everyone was crowded around the booths trying to see, and I glanced over with no peaked interest at all… I felt that took away from the beautiful trail I was just on for the past 2.5 hours.
I learned that I love to run distances, but I don’t care if I win or lose in a race. I prefer to race against myself and break personal records. I’d rather go run with friends and explore new places without worrying about time, sharing the trail, or having time to pee. 🙂
Will I run a race again? Probably. If it’s to support a good cause or be social with friends. Do I feel the need to run a race every month and make a wall covered with race bibs? Nah… I’ll fill that space with photos of the amazing scenery from my adventure runs!
Cheers to adventures in 2016!