On Saturday May 3rd I ran the 2008 Grand Island Half Marathon.
Based on recent training runs and my love of the half marathon distance I felt confident that I could get a new PR. This race provided different medals based on your finishing time. For men if you finished at 1:30 or below you were awarded a gold medal. For 1:30 to 1:45 you were awarded a silver medal. All other finish times were awarded a bronze medal. I really wanted a silver medal, not for the medal of course, and I knew I could do it. I set my sights on a finish time of 1:43.
I was shocked when I finished in 1:38:07! I crushed my half marathon PR by more than 6 minutes. My average pace was a 7:30. At this point in my running “career” I didn’t think that I could run a pace like that for 13.1 miles. I’ve been getting better but I didn’t think I’d progress that far.
Even more shocking to me was that I placed third in my age group! This was a small race of around 330 runners. There were approximately 14 runners in my age group. I actually came in fourth but because the overall winner was in my age group I was bumped to third place. This was the first time I’d placed in any race. I hope it’s not the last time but the truth is that I care more about competing against the clock than other runners.
I started the race running quickly but making sure I wasn’t running too quickly. By that I mean that I wasn’t letting myself run so fast that I would get winded. I checked my watch at the mile markers and I get seeing the same pattern, every mile 7 minutes and 30 seconds had passed (give or take a few seconds). I ran the fourth mile of the race in 7 minutes! Normally this sort of speed would worry me that I couldn’t keep the pace for the entire race. This time I wasn’t worried because I felt great. It didn’t feel like I was running fast.
It was an out-and-back course. At the turn around all of the runners were shocked to be greeted by a rather strong wind coming off of the river. It felt like running with rubber bands holding me back. I knew the second half would be slower. I did the best I could; I even tried drafting. The drafting technique seemed to help.
When I got to the finish I gave it everything I had left — almost nothing. I really wasn’t able to sprint like I often do at the end of races. I guess that means that I’m becoming a better runner and spending my energy through the entire run instead of all at the end. A runner came up along side me and passed me. I told him “you’ve got this one” because my legs wouldn’t let me run any faster. Then I dug in and found a little bit of energy and pushed. I passed him, but barely. As I ran by he said “Oh no you don’t!”
Overall it was a great day. John ran too but had issues. Even with his issues he earned a new PR. That just goes to show how much he’s progressed. It was great having Mary, Cassie, and John there to celebrate with. The race was well organized and I had a blast. I’ll likely run it again next year.