Saturday morning arrived with cool temperatures and cloudy skies but H and I were both excited to race regardless of what the weather looked like. We went through all of our regular pre race rituals of breakfast, coffee, stretching and stuff and then made our way downtown to Maymont for the race. After much debate, we decided to park about a mile from the finish line and jog to the start for our warm up. We were both feeling a little bit stiff and needed a few moments to get our legs warmed up. While we were jogging to the start, we ran into our running coach and finished our warm up jog with him which was awesome. Our coach is so inspirational and really makes me want to push myself to be a better runner. Once we arrived at the starting line, I found Mel and we hung out at the starting line just chatting and joking around a bit. Before we realized what was happening we heard the race director yell go and we were off. I was a bit startled by the quick start but as the crowd took off around me, I slowly fell into the rhythm of the runners around me and we set off for 13.1 miles of fun. My goal for this race was to run a comfortable pace but not kill myself trying to set a PR. Deep down I was hoping to beat my time from last year but I wasn't dead set on pushing myself to accomplish that goal. Last year was a tough year of training for me because I was really struggling with hip issues and my running suffered as a result. I was also training really hard for Ironman and so my focus was divided between biking, swimming and running. I definitely lost some of my running fitness last year but I have slowly been working to get some of my speed back while staying healthy and injury free. Anyway, back to the race report...I really love the Maymont Half Marathon because it is a crazy, tough and fun course.
There are hills throughout the entire course as well as quite a few trails with obstacles, five bridges, two staircases and a mix or road and trail throughout the race. It is a beautiful course and after six years of running it over and over again, I am still excited to run it every year. As usual, I ran my first mile just a little bit faster than I was planning but I quickly fell into a comfortable pace and made a decision to keep it there. I was running strong, enjoying the morning, chatting with the runners around me and focusing my mind on each mile. The miles flew by and before I knew it, I was passing mile 10 and realized that I only had a 5K to go. I decided to pick up the pace just a little bit and finish strong. The Maymont Half Marathon course doesn't have any clocks on the course and I was not wearing any sort of watch or GPS, so I had no idea what my time was or how I was doing but I felt great. As the finish line approached, I looked up at the clock and realized that I was setting a huge PR. I have no idea how I did it but I was able to take more than six minutes off of my time from last year and set a new PR in the process. I was extremely happy with my time and I will admit that a few happy tears slid down my cheeks as I removed my timing chip and made my way through the finisher's chute. I was still feeling great so I decided to go and find H and the rest of our group who were still out running the course. I ran about a mile or so and found H and Mel within a couple of blocks of each other. They were both running strong and had awesome finishing times. I ran both of them in to the finish line and then we watched as the rest of our friends finished. It was an awesome day for a race and I am already excited about running this one again next year.