I completed the Martian Half Marathon this past weekend after a pretty brutal winter of outdoor training. As challenging as it was, the training paid off. Stepping outside of your comfort zone and doing things that make you uncomfortable or even scare you are the things that give you the opportunity for improvement, and ultimately can change you. The months of running in the snow, cold, the sleet, the puddles, the wind and all of the weather were worth it.
The Martian Half Marathon
I signed up for Dearborn, Michigan’s “Martian Invasion of The Races” half marathon for the second time in 7 years. It was mid April and here in the mid-west that could mean we still have snow. In fact, we almost did. Only days before another snow storm crushed the northern United States and the northern half of Michigan. We were lucky enough to only suffer it’s relentless wind for a week.
I was working for a PR or “personal record” which mean under 2:04 minutes, but I also wanted to break the two hour mark. Up to race date my pace on shorter and longer runs were consistently getting faster and I felt myself getting stronger. It was still a hefty goal, but it wasn’t out of reach.
The morning of the race was brisk, but half runners started at a cozy 8:45. I still arrived early to meet with two of my running sisters. One was there to run as well, and the other drove nearly an hour just to cheer us on. That is the best part of running. The support and encouragement from fellow runners and the community. I met two new people that day and everyone was well wishing, as is usually the case with other runners. We are all there for the same thing.
I was calm when the race started and stayed with the two-hour pacer for the first 5 miles or so. The course was a little hillier than anticipated, but not bad. The wind was difficult, but it wasn’t so cold that it was awful. At 6 I dropped my pace to about twenty seconds slower for several miles. I wasn’t running how I had planned, but I still felt strong and knew I could hold it till the end, and I was pretty accurate in that prediction.
By mile 10 I knew I wasn’t going to get under 2 hours unless I pushed my pace. At that point I wasn’t gassed out, but I didn’t have anything extra in me either. I had ran my first ten miles hard without burning out so I just kept going at my current speed.
Unfortunately there are a few bridges in this last gap. I have a terrible fear of bridges, though I face that fear regularly. These were sturdy and in fantastic condition and I knew they would be there, but halfway across all three and I experienced Vertigo. I pushed through the first two slowly, but the third I had to grab the side and walk across. After each bridge it took me a few extra moments to gather myself and start going again. I’m sure I lost a few minutes all together, but it was out of my control and that is something I just had to accept.
I had a half mile left and I just pushed even though my body had truly had enough, and I came around the corner to the last two hundred meters and saw my oldest son and suddenly felt joy. It was the first race in 8 years all of my children (and husband) were at the finish for. I didn’t have any energy, but I was filled with glee and ran full sprint to the finish. My lungs were gasping for air, tears were pouring down my eyes, and I nearly cried as I crossed the finish.
The clock was bright yellow at the end, and it was a personal record: 2:03:05. I was elated to see my people and have them there to share my joy with, the experience with and for them to know what it actually is that I do all of this “training” for. Before I even grabbed a banana I messaged my running sister, spent a few minutes with my boys, and let my oldest drive me home!
Getting a personal record is always great. You can say to yourself, “That is the fastest I ever ran in my entire life.” and it’s pretty satisfying. I did make notes on things I can work on in the future, some ideas to help speed and endurance in my training, but I’m happy. From before start, to after finish. Thanks for coming along this journey with me.
In a few weeks I start my Marathon training and I will be journaling the big runs and sharing them on the blog. Until then, kick some butt everyone!