To be totally honest, I expected to get through the Women's Half and to enjoy it. However, I didn't expect to PR and certainly not by 5 minutes. My PR before this weekend was 2:30 on a very flat course in New Orleans. You can say a lot of things about the Women's Half course in Nashville, but flat is not on that list. My official time for the Women's Half was 2:25:02!
Gail and I started the morning with a 2.15 mile warm up run. Now before anyone gets too upset, yes we used to make fun of the people who warmed up before a half marathon too. What can I say, we've become those people - feel free to make fun of us. The warm up was great because I was able to start the run and not feel completely miserable at first.
Before the run, there was a moment of silence to celebrate Lynn Manzelmann, a friend and amazing woman, who died after last year's event. It was a touching and very classy moment. Great job to the race organizers for including this moment. It was perfect. It was also great to see so many people wearing the purple "Celebrating Lynn" ribbons. Just as the race started, I looked to my left and saw several mutual friends of mine and Lynn's waving at me and cheering for me. All of these things together was very moving and got my race started off great!
I started the race a little fast, and I knew it. But amazingly, I was able to maintain a steady pace. This is my first half to run without intervals. I was a little worried about not having that security. My plan was to walk through the water stops and maybe a few other times. I walked the water stops and about 8 more times. But I was ok with it and still maintained a good pace. According to my watch my average pace was 10:55, but my official average pace was 11:03. My goal during the race had been to keep it under 11. I feel really good about how I was able to run and really excited about how I'll be able to do at future races.
The last mile of the race includes going up a bridge (of course you get to go down it too, but you have to climb first). Before I got to the bridge I was greeted by the Fleet Feet cheering station. It was awesome and so motivating to see your friends cheering for you. This is where Mark spent the race, and I'm fairly certain he enjoyed this just as much as running a race. Following the Fleet Feet station was the Team in Training water stop...yea for more familiar smiling faces!
Then comes the hill...the hill that has been named "I Will Hill". Major credit to the Women's Running Half staff for making signs for the bridge. It started with a sign that said "I Will..." then there was an assortment of signs that said things like achieve, succeed, overcome, dominate and more. The last sign said "celebrate". It was awesome and really great distraction.
The night before the race Nicole planned a dinner for us. When we all got to the restaurant, she had ordered us a cake and made everyone goodie bags. It was an awesome way to spend the night before the race. One of my favorite things about running is the amazing friendships I have made.
Showing our FF pride
It's no secret that I love Fleet Feet. I think it's the best store in the world (and I'm a girl who loves to shop). I love going in there because everyone is so knowledgeable and encouraging. I'm able to run, because of their fabulous training programs. Mark wanted to go by there after the race and pick up something. When we walked in, everyone congratulated me and knew my time and that it was a PR. Talk about warm fuzzy feelings, I was full of them. It was the perfect way to celebrate my race!
*Mark and I will be running our first marathon on October 31st in Dublin with Team in Training. We have to raise $10,000 in order to participate. So far, we've raised just over $9,150 so we only have $850 to go! Please help us get there! Our deadline is October 14. All the money we raise benefits the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Visit our website to make a donation and for more information. http://pages.teamintraining.org/tn/dublin11/emilymark