I guess it’s been a while. Oops. Anyway, last time I mentioned that I was doubting my goals for the Houston Half Marathon, and my December races, though completed in respectable times, weren’t exactly confidence boosters since I was not quite as speedy as I’d been a year earlier.
However, things started picking up toward the end of the month, and I started to think that maybe, just maybe, a tiny PR (sub-1:44) wasn’t completely out of the question.
And then. I kicked off 2013 with a nasty cold that I just could not shake, so this, coupled with a forecast of pouring rain on race day, was making me lean more and more toward treating Houston as a long run for my next goal race, the New York City Half Marathon. Miraculously, race day was the first day I felt 100% better, but the weather conditions clearly weren’t going to be PR-friendly, and I just could not get into a positive state of mind about spending nearly two hours outside fighting the storm. I knew I could sub-2 it no problem, but I didn’t have any sort of strategy beyond that. As we stood in our corral in the rain, anxious to just get going already, Emilia asked me what kind of pace I’d be doing. I shrugged and responded, “Run fast to be done fast.”
When the gun went off at 7 a.m., Emilia and I quickly settled into a manageable 8:20 pace for the first 5K, much of which I ran with closed eyes as hard raindrops stabbed me in face. Thissucksthissucksthissucks sums up what was going through my mind at the time.
When I raced Houston in 2012, it was so easy to just zone out and run. I dropped several 7:40 miles and managed to average a sub-8 pace for the whole thing. I must have been so far off in my own little running world that I didn’t register any of the hills, so I was very surprised when I returned this year to find that the course was not in fact 100% flat. The inclines were all baby Texas hills of course, not difficult to scale by any means, but definitely more noticeable as part of a slippery race course on a rainy day, and I could tell early on that I was going to be a whole different kind of sore from being tense about making it through 13.1 miles without falling.
Around miles 4-5, my muscles had loosened up a bit, so I was able to briefly bring the pace down to around 8:10 before the rain started up again. I spotted my dad at mile 8, exactly where he said he’d be, and he snapped a couple of pictures as I cruised by.
Emilia and I got separated back at the 5K mark, so at the mile-9 turnaround I kept my eyes peeled to spot her coming in the other direction. We waved at each other (too far away for high fives!) and I tried to keep the pace steady for the last few miles, though some headwinds made it tough. Finally, around mile 12.5, I was rewarded with a great tailwind that helped me fly to the finish. Since I didn’t have a real game plan or goal time anymore, my end result didn’t start to matter until I made the last turn and saw 1:51:XX on the finish clock. I ran my slowest half of 2012 in 1:52 and change, so at the last minute I decided I’d be happy with sub-1:52 and sprinted it out to finish in 1:51:47. DONE. FINALLY.
Emilia had asked me to hang around so we could get a joint finisher photo, so I parked myself on the curb until she arrived a few minutes later.
Am I happy with this time? Surprisingly, yes! I did not enjoy the race itself, but if I was able to pull off a 1:51 in the wind and rain, with drenched clothes, soggy shoes, and all, I think I could have easily nailed a sub-1:50 on a good day, and I’m happy to report that I think the tail end of my training and my Houston results are indicators that I’m in decent shape to pull off a PR in the NYC Half if I continue to put in the necessary work between now and March 17. On to the next!