Today I ran the Iron Girl Half Marathon in Columbia, MD and set my new fastest half marathon time, trotting in just under two hours.
My friend Courtney and I ran the race together, and I am so so glad that I did!!! I had debated just sleeping in the car while she ran because I wasn’t feeling the race.
I ran two ten mile races earlier in the month and I felt terrible during both. The first was the Cherry Blossom on April 1. It was chillier than I expected, so I didn’t wear enough clothing to the race and was chilled during most of the race. I spent most of the race thinking about how unhappy my stomach felt and a good portion fighting with my shoes. And I wore my Tomtom so I was distracted by the little blipping numbers telling me I was running slowly. The second 10 mile was on April 14, and I started the race hungry and uncomfortable. I wasn’t happy with the shirt I wore and my music wasn’t getting me in the zone. I ran this race with a close friend, and after holding him back for the first 5 miles I convinced him to race up ahead and kick ass. I finished that race tired and sore.
So today, I wasn’t feeling very optimistic. I had only run a couple times since the last race, but I got got plenty of sleep yesterday and the day before. I laid out my favorite Nike Victory V-neck (which has been very sadly discontinued), Nike spandex, Nike sports bra, and Calvin Klein underwear (overshare?). I pulled on my very favorite adidas hoodie. Just before we ran across the start, I threw the hoodie in a bag and checked it.
I do things differently for every single race, so I’m not sure if it was just ONE thing that made the difference or the combination of everything that made this race so enjoyable, but the first 7 miles flew by and before I knew it I was bopping up those hills and counting down to the 13 mile mark. I felt GOOD the whole race, which isn’t always the case. Sometimes the loser in me whines and I have to slap some sense into myself before I get back into my stride. But my legs felt good and I felt good.
I think a lot of being able to push myself this race was having absolutely no expectations for time. I didn’t bring my Tomtom with me so I wasn’t being constantly reminded by those little numbers what I was doing. The water breas were well timed and the race was filled with mild, rolling hills. I’m freakishly attached to running hills…. I love it! I told my friends I was planning on walking the majority of the race because I wasn’t feeling it. With such little to prove, I could just enjoy the run.
I also think that the change in shoes/socks helped. I have run 13 races wearing those cotton Champion socks that are unisex and you buy from Costco for 24 for like $15 or something reasonable. I mean really… they’re just socks!! But my younger sister bought me a pair of Smartwool socks a year or so ago. I didn’t wear them until a month ago when I was having trouble with my shoes and I figured I’d give them a try. I ran my 5 mile run in less than 45 minutes (including the traffic lights!!) and my feet felt great. I immediately got home and ordered myself 5 more pairs. At over $10 a pair of socks (with the ones I wore today ringing in at $15) it’s an expensive habit… but I should have known my younger sister’s running wisdom is far more vast than mine. There is a reason she buys those socks… they make a difference!!!
The run itself was beautiful, and the people that were cheering on the sidelines were all just wonderful people. I really enjoyed running the race and soaking in the beautiful greenery of the suburbs and the nice people there!
Anyway, I just wanted to share this little piece of happiness with everyone today. I was thrilled to find out that I beat my best time by 3 minutes and that I had felt so strong and happy during this race. Last year, I ran 7 race (1 full marathon, 5 half marathons, and a ten miler) and so this year I was just so jaded. I’ve been running decked out my GPS and feeling really jaded about running… so today I finally felt FREE running. I had almost forgotten that amazing feeling where you are so happy that nothing is keeping that smile off your face… and that amazing rush when you cross the finish. I ran almost this entire race smiling.
Last year, the day I cross the finish line for the marathon was the best day of my life. Today is another one of those BEST DAYS EVER.
I think I will try to write a little bit more about my running here, just to keep track and share with you what works for me and doesn’t. I haven’t really read many running blogs that I find helpful… but I wonder if that’s because running is so personal and individualized to each runner.
Here is to happy runs that just set you free. Here is to smiling like goofy through each race.