In the fury of last week, I failed to mention that Sunday was race day: the Oakland Half Marathon.
Perhaps I subconsciously avoided the topic because nothing in me wanted to race. Not only was the weather supposed to be awful, but I haven’t raced since the Las Vegas Half in December, which was before I started training for IMAZ. Deep down, I think I was afraid to face where my running fitness was.
But being the person who hates wasting money, I wasn’t about to back out. Plus, all of my Bay Area running friends would be there – I couldn’t DNS.
The Oakland Half marathon kicked off at 9:15, the latest start I’ve ever experienced. However, I wasn’t one to complain as the sky was dark and gloomy, but void of any precipitation. It was going to be perfect running weather.
Armed with a Gu shoved in my bra, my iPod shuffle, Oiselle arm warmers and my throwaway gloves, I stood in the corral with only the following strategy in mind:
Just run however you feel.
With the incorporation of two new sports into my training, I had no idea what to expect. If I felt sub-par, I told myself to be ok with it and just take it as a training run. I’d go with whatever pace my legs and heart could hold.
The gun went off and we ran through shooting confetti. The energy was effervescent.
The reason racing is so important to me in a training schedule is because of the undeniable energy. There are no motivational words that can give you the same adrenaline kick like racing. It never fails to suck me in and push my limits.
As soon as we started, I felt my energy mount and my legs just…went.
The first couple of miles were a matter of finding my place in the pack. I usually try and spot someone to pace with. I found my pacer in woman in all black (who was in amazing shape) and I was determined to stick with her. As we made our way, I could tell that we were working off of each other.
I was able to stick with the woman in black until mile eight or nine, and soon, the bad ass shot ahead. I was proud that I stuck with her and even more excited for her to demolish the rest of the course.
Speaking of the course, it was mostly flat with a few little climbs. However, to say it had a few turns would be an understatement. I tried my best to run than tangents and shorten my stride/pump my arms on the little climbs around Lake Merritt.
It was when I was rounding the lake that I began to feel myself lose some steam. I was tired and ready to call it a day. But when I looked down at my watch, it hit me: I could PR and break 1:30.
I had maybe two miles left and if I could keep my pace under 7 minute miles or so, I might be able to make this happen. At that exact moment, some Eminem song came out that deluded me into thinking I was a bad ass. I was going to do this.
Pumped with an excessive amount of mental motivation, I rounded the final stretch back into downtown. But instead of a straight shot into the finish, I saw that last 100 meters was a hill. Shit.
I pumped my arms.
I tried to ignore the pain.
I saw Aron cheering on the side.
I crossed the finish.
6th in my age group, 14th female (out of 2,078), 68th overall (out of 3,456)
An 8 second PR, but I just couldn’t break 1:30.
Mile 1: 6:31 (Going out too fast)
Mile 2: 6:42
Mile 3: 6:45
Mile 4: 6:37
Mile 5: 6:52
Mile 6: 6:48
Mile 7: 6:50
Mile 8: 7:02 (Losing my mojo and the girl in black)
Mile 9: 6:58
Mile 10: 6:51
Mile 11: 7:06 (Lake Merritt hills)
Mile 12: 6:53
Mile 13: 6:38 (It’s game time)
Last .1/.22: 1:27 (My watch says the course was actually 13.22 miles!)
You could call it mental anguish, but I was just pissed. If that woman didn’t run into me at that aid station or what if I took the corners better. The amount of “what ifs” that ran through my head was unnecessary.
I later met up with my friends who all ran amazing races (it must have been our matching purple socks). To see them, not to mention the post-race mimosas, was what made my mental torture subside.
I later texted Coach Paul and he reminded me, “A PR is still a PR. You’ll get your sub 1:30 this year!” And you know what, he’s right.
This race reminded me that I need to trust in Coach Paul and the training program he’s giving me. I was really frustrated with my running as I wasn’t running as much and I feared that it was deteriorating. But in reality, everything I’m doing is working. Instead of running aimlessly everyday, the workouts I do are specific and intentional.
I’m now determined to break 1:30 this year and I know Coach Paul will help me get there. I just need some trust. Trust in my training, trust in myself.