I decided a few days ago that I wanted to complete the NC Half Marathon at Charlotte Motor Speedway. I wanted to do one more race with my sole sisters Pam and Kat before moving to South Carolina. Since we had completed the Princess Half two weeks ago, this race would qualify us for half fanatic. What made this race different and special was that until three days prior, only two people knew I was doing it.
I made a poster that listed all of our races attached to the word “TOGETHER” that I planned to carry with me. I normally plan everything out (travel, lodging, outfit) weeks in advance. With quick thinking, I decided to tell my running big sister I was going. She responded with, “cool, I’ll go volunteer and you can ride with me.” I then needed someone to pick up my race packet since there was no pick up the day of the race. She suggested one of the ladies we run with, who gladly agreed to get it for me.
The night before was mentally stressful because I had worked a long day and was exhausted, I had to do laundry and it was daylight savings. I was terrified my clocks wouldn’t update themselves and I would oversleep. I laid my clothes out and got in bed around 10. I set two clocks to 3:34. At 1:30, I woke and looked at the clocks. I quickly drifted back to sleep. At 3:30, my phone rang. It was my wonderful partner calling to wake me. It was a pleasant and unexpected wake up call. Within minutes, the alarms sounded. I got in the shower and then dressed before heading to meet my ride.
There was no traffic going to the race. When we arrived shortly before 6, we got a great parking space and walked to the expo area. Pam and Tonia were taking care of volunteer duties so I stayed inside. When they found me, I was stretching. Tonia joked about me doing cheer team stretches. That’s when I informed her of my surprise and that I was running. Shortly before 7, Tammy arrived with my race bib. Soon after meeting her, we spot Pam and Kat coming in. They walk up and didn’t realize I was standing there until they were really close. The looks on there faces when they saw me was awesome. The smiles got bigger when they realized I wasn’t just there to cheer, but to run.
We headed to the START line and shared some pre-race chat before it was “go” time. My goal was finish in 2:45 minutes which would be a distance record for me. To do this, I knew I needed to be between the mile 12 and mile 13 pacers. I quickly caught up to the 12 minute mile pacer and actually stayed ahead of him for the first three miles around the race track. The thought of 2:40 seemed doable. Just after the 5k, he came up from behind and passed me during one of my walk intervals. I kept him within a sprint distance for the next two miles. Around mile 5, we were at a turnaround and the 13 minute mile pacer was on the other side of the wall. She high dived me as we passed. At this point, she appeared at least a half mike behind me, which put me at about a 12:15 pace. At the 10k mark, the 12 minute pacer started to get a little more ahead of me. In my mind, if I could see him, I could catch him. Around mile 8, a steep hill jumped out of nowhere. My interval timer was on run. I told myself I could tackle it and picked up my pace a bit. Halfway up, my legs told me they hated me and refused to go anymore. I felt slightly defeated. Looking around, I realized everyone around me felt the same way about the hill. No one was running. There were drummers at the top of the hill. And even the sound of the drums couldn’t get me up that hill running. I could still see the pacer in the distance. But by mile 9, my dream of maintaining 12 minutes and the pacer…..were out of view.
I decided that once the stretch goal was out of play, I needed to focus on the other goal. I pushed to run with my interval timer. Even though my run was getting slower, I still ran when it said run. At mile 10, two ladies running beside me were chatting away. I was glad I was running alone, as I was running out of steam and didn’t think I had the energy for a conversation. One of them said, “Doesn’t it seem like the miles are going by quickly?” I wanted to clothesline her. As my answer to the question she hadn’t asked me was a screaming, “NO!” I needed those two to get away from me and was happy when my whistle sounded indicating I could walk. Mile 11 was rough. I had been awaiting my second wind to kick in. That never happened. And this mile was not an easy one. I dreamed of hugging the mile 12 marker when I got to it. When I reached it, instead if a hug; I felt like crying. My legs were feeling heavy, I was tired, I had set a goal I didn’t know how I was going to make and I still had a WHOLE MILE to go. I switched from 4:1 intervals to 1:1. I felt like the FINISH line was never going to appear. When I could see the finish line in sight, I decided I needed to keep running no matter what. I’m sure I appeared to the spectators to be going in slow motion. When I was close enough to see the clock, it said 2:45:16. To finish before it reached 2:46:00, I was going to have to push. When I crossed the mat, I had achieved my goal. I remember the first time I crossed the finish line in high school completing the two mile with blazing speed. My coach told me, “If you have that much energy at the end, you didn’t give it your all.” Today, I gave it my all. I left everything I had……on the track!
Official finish time-2:43:49.