On Saturday, I ran in The Middle Half for the fourth year in a row. (I've run in it every year they've had it!) I had SO much fun (and had some interesting moments), and managed to finish with another new half marathon PR of 1:52:16, a little faster than the PR I set three weeks ago of 1:53:57 in the Nashville Women's Half.
I spent the night with my parent's on Friday so that I wouldn't have to get up as early and drive as far on Saturday morning. My sister would be running as well - her very first half marathon! We drove to Murfreesboro, and we found her before heading toward the start line.
I ran into a few friends as soon as I got there.
One of my sister's friends was also running in her first half.
We lined up, and I realized that I felt zero nerves whatsoever. I knew that I wanted to try to run another PR, but I just felt really excited. After a few minutes, the gun fired and they played Lady Antebellum's "I Run to You" as we all started to cross the start line. I LOVED that they chose that song to kick us off.
If you look closely, you can see me smiling and waving.
It's a little crowded for the first mile or so. I just tried to take it easy and allow my legs some time to find a groove. I hadn't run all week due to my work trip, and I could tell that they were well-rested AND a little heavy. I felt them loosen up by the end of mile 2, and I had been hitting around 8:35 for both of the first two miles. I knew this wasn't fast enough to break 1:50 (my ultimate goal), but I also hadn't trained to truly attempt it.
Pretty soon, we were three miles in and I saw my parents and friend Erin cheering me on.
One of the things I love about this race is that it's all around the MTSU campus. It's fun running up there again since it's my college stomping grounds. I also trained for my very first marathon during my last semester of college, so it's neat racing on roads that I once used on training runs.
The first part of the race is really cool because you run down Main Street past all the historic homes, over to the Oaklands Mansion and then also around the square. They had a drum line playing on the square, and I made a note that this was such a cool idea and that maybe I should see about getting one out to the 5K I'm helping to plan.
Pretty soon, we were crossing the 10K mats and waving at my parents and Erin again. I was managing to keep around an 8:35ish pace and had run into my friend Tish. We opted to not talk much since we knew we were pushing the pace, but it was nice to have her near me.
One of the other things I love about this race? There are several opportunities where you go out and back and get to pass the other runners ahead/behind you. I got to see almost everyone I knew running and wave at them.
The only unfortunate thing about this race is that it can get a little dull toward the final miles. There are a lot more long stretches down less than interesting roads, but I just turned on my music and tried to focus on staying steady without overdoing it. The last thing I wanted was to go too hard in these middle miles and fall apart at the end.
Before I knew it, we saw the family again and were heading toward the mile 10 marker. Somewhere around here Tish decided to hang back, and I decided to try to start picking it up.
I managed to pass a lot of people in the last 3 miles. I really picked it up at the mile 12 marker and ran the last mile in 8:10. I didn't have a lot of steam left at this point, but as I entered into the track stadium I saw Wayne (guy I used to work with) and he cheered for me and gave me the boost I needed to sprint the last 200 yards to the finish.
I am totally making my ugly "push it to finish but not so hard that I throw up in front of all these people" face. On the inside, I was so excited because I knew I had a new PR in the bag.
I crossed the line, and I immediately bent over and put my hands on my knees. This was mostly to catch my breath, but it was also because I was questioning whether or not I might vomit.
Apparently, I must have looked a little green. One of the men volunteering zeroed in on me and was immediately at my side insisting I take his arm so he could walk me along. Part of me felt a little silly because I knew that I was fine, but another part of me was kind of glad to have someone to partly hold me up while I finished catching my breath and focused on not throwing up.
I got a water bottle and my medal, and then I thanked him and exited. I walked back to the corner to say hi to Wayne. He killed his PR and ran a 1:39:something. I cheered for a few people I knew and then made my way back around to find my family.
My sister did awesome in her first half, finishing in 2:07:28!
Our high school cross country and track coach also ran (and beat me by like 3 minutes! I had seen his son and wife cheering at one point, and the son told me, "there's an old man up ahead you need to catch!" but I just couldn't do it!). We were glad to grab a photo with him. He's definitely why we both learned to love running.
I was excited to get photos with some other friends who ran or came to watch. It's always fun catching up with people at races.
After hanging out for a bit (and not eating the BBQ because that's the LAST thing I want after a race), we decided to head to IHOP for breakfast. Yum.
I ended up finishing 16 out of 162 in my age group, which I'm pretty excited about. I was 81 out of 929 women, and 346 out of 1781 overall. Not too shabby.
I'm not totally sure when I got fast enough to maintain an 8:35 average for a half. I think part of it is that I haven't been overdoing it in training, and I take a little extra time off here and there. I also haven't really been putting a lot of pressure on myself to reach any certain goals. I've kind of just been running lately to have fun and to keep myself busy. Maybe the speed is coming along now because I'm more relaxed.
I couldn't nap for some reason, so I watched The Blind Side (love that movie) and then went with my family and grandma to Loveless Cafe for my mom's birthday dinner. I crashed HARD at like 10pm last night. All in all, it was a pretty awesome day and a great reminder of the things I love about running... sharing it with family and friends, socializing at races, smiling when I know I reached another goal...
It's a good thing, this running.