I finished and that's good enough for me
It's weird to say this, but my worst race ever may be one that I am most proud to say that I finished. To get straight to the point, my time for yesterday's Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon in Virginia Beach was 2:06:03, more than 20 minutes off my goal.
What? Why should I be happy about that? No, I didn't get hurt, thankfully. Instead, I encountered some extremely humid conditions that I think impacted a huge number of participants. As I did during the Richmond Marathon and this year's Shamrock Half Marathon, I started with my friend Travis who had a similar goal to me. We started this race off very well -- our first 5k split was 24:56. Despite being hot and sweating more than I ever have before, it was right where I wanted to be. After a couple of more miles around an 8:20-8:30 pace, I decided to start to push it a little bit to see if I could run a sub 8-minute mile or two in order to get to my 1:44 goal.
Despite that feeling of pushing it between miles 5 and 6, I hit a little more than 8:30. What the hell? I think I might've even said that out loud when I looked at my watch. I tried to keep pushing it between miles 6 and 7, but I kept getting slower. It was at that point, when a good portion of the race was entering a couple of miles of direct sunlight, that I decided to shut it down and make this a long run. Despite my efforts to keep running, when I hit a water stop around mile 9, I decided to walk for a little while with hopes that Travis might catch up to me. I took a cup of Cytomax and two waters and took my time for about a quarter of a mile.
At that point, I was feeling refreshed and I thought that maybe I could push it for the last 5k and beat 2 hours. When I got to mile 10, I stepped it up, or at least I thought I did, for a mile ... and that's when I decided to walk again. No matter what I tried, I could not run faster. When I made a turn toward Atlantic Avenue near my hotel, I ran so I wouldn't be walking through the large crowds. After passing off my soaked visor to my mom, I walked briefly again. Once I got to mile 12 and made the final turn onto the Boardwalk, I jogged my way toward the end. I wasn't going to walk with the finish line in sight.
I could not believe how many people I saw walking during this race. At the same time, I could not believe how miserable many of the runners looked. For the last couple of miles, there was no one near me finishing strong or having a final kick. My friend Travis, who really wants to break 1:50 for a half, ended up just 30 seconds behind me, almost 20 minutes off his goal time. My friend Vicki, who ran about 2 hours last year and wanted to run in less than 2 hours, was about 20 minutes off her goal.
We all pretty much had the same story -- the first third of the race went well, but the humidity was too much to battle. I heard others around me saying the same thing. In the end, none of us really walked away disappointed at our results -- there wasn't anything we could have done differently. I was happy to finish in one piece and unhurt. I have a little typical race soreness since I ran some of this hard, but shutting things down in the second half has saved me to do something else soon -- something for another post later this week.
The other day I said my goal was to have fun, and for the weekend I did (I'll post a few photos later). I got to catch up with old friends, have dinner with family, walk on the beach and boardwalk and see the worst concert ever (thanks B52's!). As far as the race is concerned, it is what it is. Sure, I probably could have had more speedwork and two weeks of an injury in July didn't help, but none of that could have prepared me for crazy humidity. And please don't talk to me about hydrating -- I prepared myself all week to be properly hydrated. That was not an issue yesterday.
I know that I could have done more in the second half of the race to have a better time, but strangely I'm taking pride in having my worst half marathon out of the five that I've done. Had I pushed it a little more than I did, I still wouldn't have beaten my goal, and my overall health was issue No. 1 yesterday.
I finished and there's nothing wrong with that.