San Diego is the host city to the Suja Rock n Roll Marathon and Half Marathon every first Sunday in June. This is the fifth year that I have ran in San Diego. I ran the Marathon each year prior. This year, because I ran several trail races consecutively, I chose the half. This was not an easy mental task for me. For me, running the half meant chasing a PR. My best time in the half, prior to 6/1 was set on my first half in Nashville back in April of 2002 at the age of 30. That time was 2:02. Now, 42, chasing a PR in the half to me was going to be harder than running 50 miles on the trail and going to be harder than signing up for the full in San Diego.
We went to the expo. I signed up for the half. I visited the “pace” booth to get my “pace” tag of 2:00. They gave me a hot pink, 2:00 pace tag to wear on my back, along with the words, “you’re a fasty” from the girl handing them out. (What was I getting myself into?) In my head, if I chose to wear that HOT PINK tag on my back, then, everyone will know if I succeeded, and everyone will know if I failed. Our pace leader was a man, with a meek voice and a small stature. I had no doubt that he would finish in 2:00, just was not sure about me. (I still had time to rip that dumb tag off.)
The race started at 6:45 am. I showed up at the line without a fuel belt and without a Gu. 2:00 was going to be a race. I was in corral 6. We were off, seven minutes after the first corral. The pace did not seem difficult at all. Our leader said that he was going to shoot for an average pace of 9:09. Seemed like a mild pace from the start. The course is not hard. It is actually a great course for setting a PR in the half. I kept that in mind.
Mile 6 is where it got challenging. I was a bit ahead of my pacer and walked through a drink stop. I saw him pass and joined back into the race. He had a 2:00 pace on a sign, attached to a wooden dowel, but he only held it up sporadically. Because he was shorter than me, I lost him in the crowd. This was the first moment of me saying to myself, “you lost him, you gave it your best shot through mile 6, just back off”. Now began the battle of “you are strong”, “you are efficient”, “back tall”, “hips tall” versus, “you lost him”, “just let it go”, “you are tired”, “you have done enough this year”, “you can finish under your PR and be happy”.
Soooo, put on Katy Perry’s ROAR, it was the perfect pace for my body. I did continue to walk through two more drink stops and half way up two hills, but when I was running, I was on ROAR. There is something for me about training to music, having songs for my fast pace and having songs for my medium pace. My fast song for the race was ROAR. My medium song for the race was YELLOW (by Coldplay). When I train with this music, my legs, mind and feet take over. I am on auto pilot. It is my most efficient pace, so it does not feel like hard work. My mind just needed to have that music on repeat. I did not look at my watch. I just pressed on. I DID IT! 2:01. I do not think I will revisit that distance any time soon. It was hard ’til the very end. I am not used to how that feels. 🙂
I’m happy I did it. I am enjoying this year. This has been my most exciting running year. I am not sure how I will top it. I have some fun things to come. Summer track session starts next week, and I have been invited to the Rock/Creek Women’s Trail Running Summit in the late summer. Good stuff! Cannot wait!