Rock the Parkway was the second weekend of April. And, my second race of April. Last year, I ran Rock the Parkway for the first time. I did it as part of the Heartland 39.3 series. (A series of 3 races in less than 6 weeks.) But, Rock the Parkway was my goal race of the three.
A lot of people (non-runner friends and my husband) think I'm crazy for running so many half marathons. But, to me, a half is the perfect distance. It's enough to feel like I've really accomplished something, but I can keep trained up for them without a whole lot of change in my normal running routine. I love them. But, the key is, I don't "race" all the races I run. Meaning, most of them, I just run for fun. Or, I run with friends. Or, I don't push too hard.
Not saying that it's not an challenge to run each 13.1 miles, just that I don't push myself to absolute exhaustion at every race.
Just to keep a tally, here are the big races of my Spring 2013 Race Calendar:
Chocolate Rush Half Marathon St. Louis Marathon Relay (2 legs) Rock the Parkway
- Kansas Half Marathon
- Oklahoma City Memorial Half Marathon
- Running with the Cows Half Marathon
- Hospital Hill Half Marathon
Have I mentioned that I love races? Some people only run one or two races a year and really race them hard. That's cool if that's how they run. But, this is how I run. Lots of races, with only a few "raced."
Ok, all that being said, Rock the Parkway is a race I race. Last year, it was also my goal race. And, despite the humid and warm temps, I managed to PR. I was so happy to see my time of 1:53:34. It was 4 minutes under my previous PR. Now, I had yet to fully learn the importance of eating after a race, and I was sick for the rest of the day. This year, I knew my body even more, and I've been training and cross-training even harder.
I wanted to PR again. I was going to race Rock the Parkway.
This year, the temps were SO MUCH more favorable than last year. They started in the high 30s with no wind. I was stressing out beforehand trying to figure out what to wear, but it ended up being absolutely perfect for running. (Just so you know, I wore capris, a long sleeved shirt, and a light jacket shirt with ear warmers and gloves).
My dad was running the race this year, too. And, my little brother was in town from Maine, so he came out to the race to be a support system for us.
|Isn't he a sweet little brother?!?|
|Marsha, Kelli, Anne and me.|
I started the race with 1:55 pace group along with Kelli and Marsha. My plan was to start out with the pacers to force myself to start out slow. Sometimes, I have trouble starting slow in races. I love the pacers to help with this. So, the goal was to run with them for a while, then kick it up after about 6 miles and hopefully cut 3 minutes off my overall time. I wanted to PR with 1:52.
So, I started out running with Kelli and the 1:55 pacers. I was feeling really good. We chatted and took some water at the water stops. Around mile 4, I was feeling so good, I just started pulling ahead of the group.
When I ended up all by myself, I popped in my ear phones and started rocking out to ... an audiobook. Ok, people also apparently think I'm crazy for that. But, it was a thriller, so I at least I could pretend I was running from a murderer if that makes it better. (David Baldacci's Split Second in case you are curious.)
Then, I was just in a zone. The mile markers just kept ticking off. I wasn't paying very close attention to my watch because I didn't want to overthink it. I just ran. And, I felt good. When I saw the mile 11 marker, I kicked it even higher. I had an 8:05 mile 11. Then, mile 12, I still had more to give. I ended up with a 7:29 mile 12. Unheard of for me. The last .1 was a sprint at 6:44 pace. I mean, this is crazy talk. I could actually see the 1:50 pacers finish just ahead of me.
I ended up taking another 3 minutes off my PR with a finish time of 1:50:13. You should see the smile on my face when I crossed the finish line. Oh wait, you can:
|Yes, I totally realize that I have goalpost arms. I swear I thought they were straight up. So, yes, I know that it looks like I'm waiting for a football to come sailing at my head. Jeez.|
The only bad part about the finish was the fact that I could see that Cory had made it out to the finish with the girls to cheer me on. I was so happy to see them there cheering for me until I saw that it was really only Cory and Molly cheering. I could see Charlotte crying (screaming really) as I finished. Oh well, life of a running mom, right? At least they made it out there.
I was on a high for the rest of the day. And, it turned out all my girls PR'd, too. There was something in the air! (Though, don't you for one second think that I don't realize that if I had cut a measly 14 seconds off my time, I would be under 1:50.)
|Just a bunch of PRíng girls!|
|With my dad after the race. Yes, Molly is behind him giving him bunny ears.|
And, even when my dad, brother and I got back to my parents' house and discovered my mom had locked the house when she left, I was smiling. I was smiling when I realized my keys to my car were inside. Yes, I was even smiling when I had to crawl through my parents' doggie door in order to get home to my shower. THAT is how good I felt after this race.
If you can't smile while crawling through a dog door after killing it in a half marathon, then, really, when can you?