On October 1, I did Winchester's Southern Plunge Half Marathon. I chose this race for two reasons. One - it was a free race from active advantage. Two - I was going to be in Winchester for a girl's weekend and I needed to get a long run in. Strangely, I like running alone in a group, but I'm not so good at running all alone. So the race was the perfect way to make sure I got in a long run and stayed on track with my marathon training.
The night before the race, I tried to think of excuses not to do the race. Here are a few. I don't want to leave my friends (this would never work, they were all sleeping when I left). I "overslept" (ugh, i thought about this one but really I couldn't do it). Then I discovered the perfect reason not to do it, I'd left my watch charger at home! Aside from my shoes, my watch is the one thing I depend the most on to get me through the race. However, as much as I thought I wanted out of the race, I really didn't want out. I was just afraid.
Every race I've done has been with a group or with Mark. This was to be my first race without someone else running it or at least cheering me on. Also, I knew it was going to be a small race. I'm always terrified of being last. This fear was confirmed when I got to the start and there was hardly anyone there. Although a small race means no lines for the bathroom! And, of course, I was extra nervous without my watch. The race would definitely be a chance to grow as a runner.
Of all the thoughts I had swimming around in my head, setting a personal record was not one of them. After all, I had just PR'd the weekend before. And I seem to average a PR every 6 months or so. Not mention all of the reasons I listed above. Once the race got started, I was in the back of the pack - quite literally. The first few miles were hilly. And to be honest, I hate the first 3 miles of every run. I tried not to panic and to just trust that I could finish.
At mile 8, after finishing what was two steady miles mostly uphill, I asked the girl beside me if we were ever going to go downhill. She said yes, but not for long. Which was fine with me, all I needed right then was a small downhill. I had wanted to run waterstop to waterstop, but I'm guessing I walked about 30 - 45 seconds every half mile. So when the girl beside me looked at her watch and said I'd finish in less than 2:30 I was shocked. Shocked and motivated to keep my butt moving! I told her I'd PR'd the weekend before finishing in 2:25. She replied that if I kept on pace I could beat that.
I kept running though I still think I walked briefly every half mile or so and through the waterstops. I felt really good. And my conversation with the other runner had changed my confidence. I knew the race had started close to on time. A little ways into mile 12, I looked at my phone for the first time to see the time. It was 9:14. I knew I could PR if I could just keep it up for less than one mile. I finished in 2:22:51!!! I was 100th out of 137 (see I told you it was a small race).
I'm amazed I could PR on another hilly course without my watch. Or maybe it's that because of my watch and how fast I "think" I can run, I've been holding myself back. I'm running the Middle Half this weekend, which had been my goal race to PR at (the last two PRs were happy accidents). It's a flat course. I still think I can PR. Now should I wear my watch or not?