If you haven’t already, check part one of my first half marathon as a parent.
Tonight is as good of a time as any to reflect on my half marathon, as I wait for the cloth diapers to finish in the wash on the eve of our next trip to Montreal. I left you in the last post as I was starting to make my way through the course. Since it was a waved start and I ended up back a corral, I got stuck in a slower corral than I had expected to be in. As a runner, I’ve only ever felt comfortable going a pace I’m accustomed to going. I especially have a hard time running at a slower speed than I am used to or than I expect to be running. My mind starts to wander and I sometimes feel like I could just stop running and just walk. I encountered this feeling as I was stuck doing a 12:00 – 12:30 minute mile for the first 2 mile or so. But, I pushed through this and just kept running, all the while looking for my pacer as I ran. The pacers were supposed to be holding a tall pole and wearing rabbit ears to make them easily identifiable. As we came up on a windy part of the course that took up the better part of two miles, I spotted my pacer across the course, at least a mile away from me. My only assumption is that he was waiting at the starting line and left when the 13th corral left, a good 10-15 minutes ahead of me. At this point, he was well ahead of me and I had no chance of catching up without burning through my energy that I needed to make sure I finished the race. I latched on to a few other runners who seemed to be running at a pace that I was comfortable with and stuck with them as I made my way through the first couple miles of the course. I find it easier to rely on keeping pace with other runners who are doing a steady pace than trying to pay attention to my watch and make sure I stay at a steady pace myself.
The first 5 or 6 miles were relatively flat, with little to no hills to speak of. It wasn’t until we were leaving the amusement park area and getting on the bridge heading into the city that we hit our first hill. I was determined to power through it and run that hill without walking and get off that island. You see, I often fall into walking when I feel bored or like something might be too much of a challenge. I was able to convince myself that I was going to run through this hill and push on for as far as I can without stopping to walk. I made it through about 9 miles without walking at all which was probably the longest distance I had gone without walking at all. I was especially happy with myself as I had almost convinced myself not to run the race.
When we got off the island and across the bridge, we ran full on into a head wind. There was a point just after 9 miles where I felt the need to stop and take a breather. The head wind was rather strong and my legs were tightening up. I stopped and walked for a minute and then stretched out my calves and felt ready to push on. For the next 3-4 miles it seemed that every time I’d make it through a headwind, I’d turn the corner and be faced with a big hill. As we made our wait under the bridges and through old Montreal, I pushed through with a combination of running and walking. To be honest, my cardio/energy capabilities were allowing me to push right through, but my calves were tightening up more and more.
I knew Lindsay, Edith, my in-laws and our friend Allie would be waiting on the sideline cheering for me somewhere around the 20 km point (for our American readers, a half marathon is 21.1 km or 13.1 m), so once I hit mile 12 I knew I had to push through the rest of the course. As I watched for them along the course, I started to get more excited and the idea of seeing them was even more exciting to me than crossing the finish line. As I closed in on the last half mile, I saw Allie and my mother in law taking pictures along the course while Lindsay was nursing Edith and cheering me on! I pushed on through that last half mile and crossed the finish line ahead of my time from the Vermont City Marathon (2:17 vs around 2:20). While neither time was what I had hoped for, I am extremely proud to say I’ve finished two half marathons this year and it made it all the more special to know my family was there watching and cheering me on.