As I shared in my previous blog post, No Holding Back, I had my fall race this weekend. I haven't been so excited for a race in a long time. However, for multiple reasons, I had been anticipating this one for months. I had very little idea of all that I would learn/embrace along the way. But just as this race's title was Monumental Marathon, my experience was monumental.
Thursday evening, my co worker and I enjoyed exploring some of the sites around the city and exploring the unique restaurants and sculptures downtown. When she and I are together, we enjoy being silly.
Friday was another day of the expo, doing what I love to do as part of my job, and carb loading for Saturday's race.
Then finally the day I had been training so hard for came around.
While the morning started out chilly, the temperatures were actually perfect for a race. The sun was out, and it was about 41 degrees. It's not fun to wait around at the start line in those temperatures, but once you get going, it's ideal. I was focused and ready to go. My mantra of LET GO was written on my hands and ingrained into my head for running. I pushed my headphones in and geared up to cross the start line.
As we started off, there wasn't a cloud in the sky or a breeze in the air. PERFECT! I shed my throw away gloves by mile one and felt great. My pace was pretty on-target for a PR. Of course, it was only mile one! We passed by the Colts stadium and rounded some streets to pass through the heart of the city, by the monument that stands tall in the center of the square. (Sorry, no photos... while I really enjoy the scenery along the way of the race courses I do, I do not stop to take photos while I run!)
As the miles faded one by one, I was feeling good, but a little uncertain if I could maintain the good pace the entire way. I did not go out the gate too fast, as some do. I just knew for weeks now, that while I would be close, I would be pushing it the whole race.
Somewhere around mile 6, there was a fire in a house along the course, so the firetruck beeped its way through the street, moving all of us to the sidewalk until it passed, and then off to the left of the street where the fire was. At mile 7, the half and the full marathon split apart. That was the first time I slowed down for water. That was where I lost a tad bit of my momentum for a moment. I found it again, but I know from past experiences that when I lose momentum, it slows down my adrenaline a little.
But I pressed on. Around mile 9, a crazy driver tried to (ok, not tried to, but DID) pull out onto the course. I know this has happened in plenty of races, but it was a first experience for me.It shot my heart rate up a little because the car did this literally with only 2 runners ahead of me. I have no idea what that driver was thinking. One of the other runners ahead of me stopped and handled the situation, so I kept going.
Halfway through mile 9, I was surprised to hear a spectator yell "Go, Rachael!" One of our lead volunteers/sector bosses was out there to watch his girlfriend run. His cheer gave me a little new push.
When I hit mile 10, I knew that if I did not maintain my pace, I was going to lose a new PR. I kept repeating to myself to Let Go . No Doubt. Keep going. Let Go. And while it helped, I will just share with you that when my watch hit 2:27, I was rounding the bend into the final stretch, and I knew I was pumping out all I had left.
I finished the race in 2:29:24.
I missed my PR by just a minute and a few seconds.
I cried a little.
But I did not cry because I did not make the PR. While it is so true that I wanted that pretty badly, what rang more true in my heart is just how much I have gained along the way the last few months.
I gained new confidence.
I gained new perspective.
I gained new friendships.
I gained a stronger faith.
And all of those "gains" are worth far more than a new PR. I will have plenty more races to run to push for a PR. This race was meant as a learning journey. And that was my reason for shedding a few tears. I felt great. I let go. In running, yes. But I let go in so many other areas that, as I stated previously, this race was was a huge victory for me. I even learned another lesson of letting go during my finish. I had this time goal in my head... and I didn't quite make it. And sometimes I have to let go of not accomplishing a goal. To not beat myself up over it. Let go of that, because in essence, while I didn't meet the goal, it doesn't mean I failed by any means. If I met every goal I ever made, what would I ever learn??
To many, running a half marathon in 2:29 is super slow. For me, I pushed through some walls. And I improved very much over the last race I did. So if you ask me if I ended happy... the answer is YES.
So, the Air Force Marathon half marathon course still holds my PR for now. Which is perfectly OK with me. The Monumental Marathon, while not my favorite race I have ever ran, holds my best training journey.
Upon my arrival home, the family was happy to have me back and to celebrate my accomplishment. We enjoyed the post-race tradition of a Mexican meal. That started after my very first half marathon, and without the intentions of it becoming so, has become the now-traditional post race occurrence. We decided to try a new place, and if you live in Dayton, or are ever in the area, you have to try Taqueria Mixteca. It's traditional and delicious! Best post-race meal ever!
Needless to say, I had the best night's sleep I've had in months. And a happy heart. Because letting go does that.
It was no PR, but far more was gained.....
Who knows what the next leg of training will bring?