Finish half marathon race #8? Check!
Run an entire race with my husband and cross the finish line together? Check!
Run hard, pace myself and lead part of the race? Check! (Even if it was only for the first 20 yards.)
Today's Kona Half Marathon went wonderfully well. Thanks to my parents (and the fine makers of Benadryl), I managed to get decent night's sleep the night before, the weather was perfect (cool and overcast at the start, not too hot at the finish), the race was well organized and there were plenty of water stations along the course.
I felt great for most of the first 6.5 miles (we made the turn at 1:03, which was good). However, around mile 8 I started to run out of juice. Even for me- that felt kinda early to be tired. At mile 11, each of my legs weighed about 100 lbs. And for the last quarter mile of the race, I am pretty sure I sounded like a wheezing asthmatic at death's door. Even though every race (no matter the distance) takes absolutely everything out of you- I think that was one of the hardest halfs I've run. I thought it was because I didn't really train well, but my dad and Roy pointed out that it could also have been the heat/humidity as well.
Thankfully, like every race, we somehow found the energy to sprint in the last 100 yards and gleefully overtook two Japanese girls that had been right in front of us for most of the race. This allowed us to finish at 2:14, which is only 6-8 min. slower than my previous personal bests. Our time put us just above the middle of the pack (#s 200/201 out of 463). Definitely can't complain about that! Even though I had no real right to set any time goals, it would have sort of broken my spirit to see a time higher than 2:20 when I was once on the verge of running sub 2-hour races.
It was really neat to see so many runners in little 'ol Kona (there were 1200 runners in the full, half and 10 & 5k fields, 80% of which were NOT from the island) from all over the country. I always love seeing the purple Team in Training (leukemia), orange Team Challenge (Crohn's & colitis) and red Train to End Strokes groups out there, especially knowing that many or most of them are running their first races ever AND raising money for great causes. Whoever led the charge in developing these programs is a mastermind- get people healthy in a motivational/team environment AND raise money for wonderful causes.
I also forgot how humbling it is to be easily passed by people carrying 30-80 lbs. more than you. We even saw what had to be an 80 or 90-year old man with severe scoliosis hobbling along all by himself, doing the marathon. F***ing awesome. What an inspiration.
So the next half marathon on the island (there are only 2) is the Big Island International (on the other side of the island). And it is not until March of 2010, so I'm not sure where I'm going from here. The old me would have already enrolled in it, but the new, much more tired, much less ambitious me says I'm just not sure if I'm feeling it or not. I reconfirmed something today (that I've realized in pretty much every single race I've ever done), which is that I'm not really a race runner.
Here's what I know I DO love about running races- the inspirational moments, the convenience of water stations (no more heavy Fuel Belts!), cheering bystanders and the fact that races often force you into getting fit. However, I think there are more things that I DON'T like about races- I don't like competition. I don't like pressuring/pushing myself out of my (slow) comfort zone because I am embarrassed at being passed. I don't like feeling bad because I'm not fast. I don't like worrying about my time. I don't like worrying about how I am going to be judged by myself and othes based on my time.
And I also realized that the things I do *love* about distance running (if you can call my limited 13.1 distance running) have nothing to do with races- the freedom of running, the strength I feel while running, the euphoria I feel after running, etc. So to be honest, I don't have any current plans to run another race. I might. I might not. I do know that I will continue running because it brings many good things to my life, I just don't know where the road will take me (no pun intended).
Though I'm sure this will probably not be my last race, and definitely not the end to my running, I'm really, really glad that I got to do this one with my husband. He risked injury by training for this race (running rather than walking), and though he denies it, sacrified finishing faster so that he could run alongside his pathetically exhausted wife. He improved his previous best half marathon time by over 15 minutes (he used to racewalk them) and deserves all the accolades in the world!
And where was Ryan during all of this? Worshipping the Lord in church with his grandmother. Which means that over the last 10-15 years, my 1-year old son has now been to church more than me. Apparently he loved the music and was very well behaved. He even took a little 20-minute snooze in one of the hard pews. We were a little nervous that he would come home angrily shaking his chubby little fist and us and calling us 'sinners,' but thankfully, he did not. ;-) Hallelujah.
Roy & I post-race at the beautiful Outrigger Keauhou Beach Hotel...which is also where we got married a little over 12 years ago.