The weather forecast was perfect so by Thursday I was almost positive I was going to run. That evening, I received a text from a friend (who got me involved with the rescue that Miles and Mutts runs dogs from and was instrumental in getting the program rolling), asking if I thought she could run it. Earlier in the year, it was her goal to run her this as her first half marathon but as with anything, life sometimes gets in the way and she wasn't sure if she was ready yet. She was also really looking for something to boost her confidence. The longest she had ever run was 8.5 miles the week before at the rail trail with one of the shelter dogs. My outlook on running is sometimes a different perspective and others may not agree with it but I know she is strong and knew she'd be able to run it. I encouraged her to sign up and said I'd be happy to run it with her urging her to run it with the purpose of finishing her first half marathon.
Saturday morning at 8:30 AM, we were at the start line. I could tell Amy was a bundle of nerves, I tried introducing her to local people to give her some encouragement. Unfortunately, some of the words of advice were, "If you can run this one, you can run any half". Don't tell her that!! This race is known for its hills. I've never thought it is bad, it's just fairly continuous rolling hills so I continued to tell she'd be fine.
My plan was to keep the pace easy for at least the first eight miles. I figured the key for Amy was not going too fast and not burn out. I didn't wear a watch and ran by feel. Both of us had headphones but I kept the volume really low figuring I could take cues from Amy to make sure it was feeling somewhat sustainable for her, both listening to breathing and every once in awhile saying something to her to see how easy it was for both of us to talk. The plan seemed to work well. My uncanny skills of helping people run slowly (like I did for the first half of Freedom's Run last year) were at it again. My neighbor also ran the race and made a comment on Facebook that he didn't see a watch but my pace seemed so steady and he didn't know how I do it. Guess I've slogged through enough long, slow miles by now that I'm a pro!
Around 11.5 miles, I was starting to feel a little tired but I could tell Amy looked strong and the race adrenaline was starting to kick in for her. I urged her to go ahead of me. I slowed down a bit, my stomach was not feeling happy but when I finally saw the school in the distance picked it up a little passing a couple of people. I'll also admit that my competitive spark came back because I saw the clock had already clicked over to 2 hours. Damn, should have picked it up a bit because if I would've known we were that close, I would have tried for under 2 hours myself! I had no idea where we were as far as time all morning and really thought we were already over 2 hours.
The best part, Amy came in under 2 hours! How's that for a first half marathon? I was about a minute behind her at 2:00:46.
The day was humbling since I was 8 minutes slower than last year and I didn't have much more to give at the end. The day was rewarding because I was able to help a friend finish her first half and earn herself a 13.1 magnet. The race was motivating because completing a race again was incredibly fun and we still finished faster than I expected us to. The race was difficult because I was feeling it at the end and my stomach was messed up. It opened my eyes to how terrible I've been eating lately because I know that is a direct relationship to that issue. And, finally, it was easy because I feel great today with very little soreness and was able to get out for a short little recovery jog with the dog. I'm ready to sign up for another race!