I’d been planning on running the St. Luke’s Half Marathon for months now, but races still have a funny way of sneaking up on you. Especially when you aggravate a nagging injury a mere two months before the big day. I probably increased my mileage too quickly in order to get in shape for the half marathon today, but it ended up working out in the end. I knew I more than likely wouldn’t be capable of a PR, since I was in much better shape last September when I did my last half marathon, but ultimately I was happy with how I raced.
Negative splits were my plan from the beginning, especially since I wasn’t entirely sure what kind of shape I was in. So I went out conservatively, hardly batting an eye as several runners I knew went out faster and as I was getting passed by quite a few fellow participants. I’d wanted to start with something around a 6:20 or 6:25 mile, but with adrenaline and a downhill start, it’s hard to hold back. My first mile was 6:08, but then I slowed way down to 6:28 for the second mile. But my breathing was fine, my legs felt good and I relished the thought of passing back a number of the runners who had just passed me.
From mile three to six, I ran alone and hovered around 6:05 for each mile. I eventually caught up to two friends of mine as the race turned into a park and we worked together as a pack. I was still feeling good, hardly even short of breath. Around the 7.5 mile mark, I got tangled up with legs of one of my friends as he went for a water at an aid station and I fell to the ground. Sure, I could’ve been mad or despondent, but I just bounced right back on my feet and got right back to running. If I stopped, even for a little, I knew all too well how hard it would be to get going again. And being the kind of runner I am, I didn’t want to lose time.
Adrenaline took over and I pulled away from my friends around 9.5 miles in. Once I hit the ten mile marker, the race really began for me and I dramatically brought down my pace. Over the last 5K, I averaged 5:35 miles as I continued to pass more runners. The sudden drop in pace was accompanied by a corresponding increase in my effort, meaning my once easy breathing became heavy pretty quickly. But I was determined to push it to the finish.
Ultimately, I finished with a 1:19:20. That time is a solid two and a half minutes off my PR (which also happens to be the only other half marathon I’ve run), but considering I didn’t have as much training as I would’ve liked and I took a spill, I was happy with it. Plus, I wasn’t even close to on pace for that kind of time for much of the race. Finishing a half marathon with a 17:23 5K is a pretty solid accomplishment in my book.
I really enjoyed the experience and I hope to do the St. Luke’s Half Marathon again next year. For now I’m going to take a week off to dress my wounds, ice, stretch out and rest up. Then, it’ll be time to start training for this year’s Steamtown Marathon. Until we meet again.