It didn’t take long for the crowd to thin out and the firebugs to be my evening’s running partners. The night was dark, a few sprinkles dropped, cooling the runners ever so perfectly along the open stretches of the path. The sounds of the night increased their volume as the sounds of my breathe settled into the run.
The first half of the half-marathon was where any of the pace juggling, and position juggling happened. In the early parts of the half I found myself jockeying for position amongst a few of the other female runners. It was dark and the pace was by feel. I felt strong, yet gasps for the typical first three miles of the race. I stayed with a group of girls settling in behind one, and then realizing my pace was going to take me around her. I struggled with myself if I was going out to fast as this woman had gone around me, went ahead, and now within a mile I had reeled myself back up to her. I didn’t feel sparatic and I would come to find out my pace splits were falling pretty consistent. I told myself, might as well run fast while I feel good, and so I went around her and didn’t see her again until the end.
After this I didn’t have much company. These types of races are those I really love. I have done an unconventional week by having a fast run on Tuesday. There was an unusual amount of people I saw out on my Wednesday morning run, which temped me into pushing my pace. I did the hardest track workout that I’ve ever done on Thursday with a friend. Friday my name was drawn for a free entry to a 10k where I didn’t break records but personally ran hard, and now this; a half marathon where I wanted to do well. Clearly I didn’t give myself the best chance at running a half PR, but it’s been pretty solid marathon training for my upcoming fall race and it puts to test the theory of running on tired legs. Regardless, it wasn’t hot, I’m used to running by myself, the course was straight, the footing was good, and I love to run.
After about a mile at the turn around, I ran completely alone. I stayed on pace the whole race and moved along this second half of the race with my thoughts, my own breathe, and the sounds of the dark country night.
I felt fortunate that I’m the kind of runner that doesn’t need a crowd, and that does plenty of running in the wee hours of the early morning so I’m comfortable in the dark. Yet, there’s something different about a run at night. The heat, hustle, and stresses of the day seem to float away leaving a blanket of dark that will break open to the twinkle of the stars, the spotlight of the moon, and eventually the dawn to a new day. I always find that these first hours of the night are the hours of true reflection. A chance to give thanks for the successes of the day, apologize for any blunders, and commit to doing better from the lessons learned for which we now, know better.
My legs tired as the sign let me know I had run up on double digits; from mile 10-11 I had my most mentally tough go, willing myself not to shuffle. I realized I’d had a tough week, but I didn’t battle in the 10 k the day prior because I had promised myself that I would battle tonight. Even though I’d be the only one to know if I’d really given the run my all, I didn’t want that demon in my head……..so I pushed. I kept pumping my arms, pushing my breathe, and pumping my legs. Mile 11 was a welcomed sign; Mile 12 was even sweeter. I found a new gear and clicked off the fasted split of my race to come strongly, yet without fanfair, into the finish.
I can honestly say, I ran a strong race. My legs are tired. The pint glass got put to good use. I slept well. And today, I’ve earned my rest day!
Groovy Girls Go……….Sunday to Rest