The Middle Half was my 16th half marathon….holy cow! I ran my first in 2010 and now, only three years later, I have run 16!
For those of you who don’t know, The Middle Half is a small race in Murfreesboro, TN. It is called “The Middle Half” for several reasons: it is located in MIddle Tennessee, it runs by the geographical center of the state, and it starts and ends at Middle Tennessee State University…oh, and there is a special medal for the person who finishes in the middle of the pack. It has really grown in popularity over the last few years and this year it sold out in 2 hours 11 minutes. I stopped in the middle of my long run to register on my phone the minute it opened and 1,600 of the 3,000 spots filled in the first 20 minutes! You can learn more about this race here.
I made sure to cut back on mileage after the Women’s Half to give me plenty of recovery time but a few days before the race I had a little niggle in the top of my foot that wasn’t going away. I assume it was because I had spent a lot of time on my feet in unsupportive dress shoes, so I cut my last two runs before the race and iced it regularly.
I like to have a plan. I planned to get to the race at 6:10 am, hit the bathrooms, get a group photo taken with the Boro Divas at 6:25 and meet my running group to warm up and take pictures at 6:30.
I arrived at 6:05. That is the only part of my plan that actually worked out. By the time I found the friend I was meeting and got the the start line to find the bathroom, it was 6:20 and there was a long line. I decided that a bathroom stop was much more important than a group photo. I finally made it through the line and headed to meet my training group to warm up. Unfortunately, by the time I actually found them, they had already warmed up and taken their group photo as well. At this point I was starting to get stressed….a couple of deep breaths later, I located the friend I planned to run with and we headed to the start. We had agreed to run intervals and with only 10 minutes until the start of the race, I reached down to turn on my Garmin…nothing! It apparently turned on the night before when I put it out with my race close and was completely dead. As a last ditch effort, I set up runkeeper to give me the intervals and off we went (garmin still strapped to my wrist since there was no time to take it back to the car).
The friend I was running with is a little faster than me and I was hoping she would help me get a new PR, but I soon began to have doubts. The first mile was just uncomfortable. My legs were tight (since I missed the warmup) and I just didn’t have a lot of energy. I also think we went out too fast. I couldn’t keep and eye on the pace since my garmin was dead (even though I kept looking down to check it anyway) and we did the first three miles at a 12:40 pace. I knew I couldn’t keep that up for another 10 so I told my friend to go ahead without me. She said she would rather stay with me (it was her first half) so I tried to slow the pace down.
By mile five I was getting grumpy. My legs felt heavy, the top of my foot was starting to hurt and I was continually reminded that my watch was dead every time I looked down at it (apparently this is a habit I have). I knew we were approaching the square and every year, one of the high school drumlines sets up there. That is just what I needed to get out of my funk….of course, this year they were not there…sigh. By mile 8, I was seriously doubting my ability to stay with my friend….or even continue to run. My body was unhappy! It was starting to get hot, my foot niggle was really throbbing, my quads were getting tight, my legs felt like lead, and every time I looked down at my garmin, I wanted to punch someone in the face! At the next water stop, I dumped a cup of water on my head and that seemed to help.
At mile ten I was fully expecting my friend to drop me (that was what we had planned in the first place) but she was starting to struggle too. I turned on my music to try and get a little more motivated and dumped another cup of water (down my back this time) at mile 11. We hit the “mile 12 from hell” (you can see the finish from this point but it is still a mile away). Runkeepr told me we were averaging a 13:04 pace and I only needed a 13:20 to PR. It was just enough motivation to keep my legs moving. Mile 13 takes you onto the MTSU track to finish the .1 and as soon as I hit the track I knew I had it. All of the speed work I had been doing kicked in and I went on autopilot. I started passing runners left and right and finished in 2:53:54. A new PR by a little over two and a half minutes!
This was not my best race experience (no fault of the Middle Half, the race was well run as always). It was probably a combination of having run a half two weeks prior, not getting enough sleep, and really pushing myself to PR. With Ragnar approaching I decided to take an entire week off from running to give my body some time to recover.
In other news, the local running store is hosting a costume fun run on halloween so I have to find a costume. M thinks I should wear this!
Any opinions, or ideas on a good running costume?