It's been a full two weeks since John, Kira and I ran the Fort4Fitness Half Marathon, in Fort Wayne, IN, where I grew up. This was the first half marathon John and I have ever done, but it was only the most recent of several that Kira has completed. She came up to hang out and run with us, and to help pace me.
The race started near and ended in the Tin Caps stadium in downtown Fort Wayne, and we all agreed that everything about the set up was extremely convenient. The Marriott that's part of the downtown baseball complex offered a special rate for the night before the race, so we stayed there and didn't have to worry about parking. Staying just minutes away from the starting line bought us a little more sleep, and then we could practically see our hotel room window from the finish line.
(Side note: John and I finally replaced our ancient laptops with new ones, and my mom brought them up from Bloomington. Here's John in the hotel, embracing his new favorite toy.)
The race itself was pretty well organized and fun to do. I'd never raced this distance before, and I think I really learned a lot in the training process. Running a couple of 12 and 13 mile long runs really made me feel confident on race day - I knew I would be able to finish, though maybe not too fast.
That morning, John and lined up nearer to the front of the corrals, while Kira and I were somewhere about 2/3 in. We didn't see John again until we were entering the stadium to finish, but Kira got text updates on her phone that told us when John was finished: 1 hour, 43 minutes. So fast! He said that he was with the 8 minute-per-mile pace group for most of the race. At one point, the pacer asked how many people had run Fort4Fitness before, and John exclaimed, "This is my first half marathon ever!" and impressed his 8-minute pace-mates.
Kira and I gradually increased our speed during the course of the race. Afterward, her Garmin told us that we'd run the first 5 miles in about 10:38 per mile, then the next 5 at 10:35, and the final 5K at 10:14. I told Kira ahead of time that I expected to actually run about 11 minute miles - slower than I would want to, but it's what I felt was realistic. Kira was pretty mellow for the first 6, maybe even 7 or 8 miles, and I felt ok with the sub-11 pace. Even my foot cooperated and didn't hurt, so I knew I could handle the pace. But then, really surprising no one, Kira started to push the pace, and she ran a lot of the last few miles a few feet ahead of me, smiling backward in a way that said, "You can do it! You'll thank me later!" I knew she was right, even though she didn't say that she was pushing me. Around mile 10 or so, I think I said to her, "Listen. I'm on to you. I know what you're doing." I didn't know if I could really run any faster, but I just tried to keep up with her, and that seemed to work. I was tired and kind of sore by that point, but I was hanging in there. Fortunately (I think?), my foot seems to do better when I run at least 10:30 or faster, so the pace was probably helping me out, even if it felt a little fast.
At the lowest point in my attitude, I said, "I'm going to beat you." [man next to us laughs.] "Not, like, at the finish line. I mean I'm going to beat you. Literally. With my fists."
Kira ran slightly ahead of me. I think I was trying to be funny, but by mile 10, that's the best I could do.
Having said all that, I think I was mentally pretty stable during this race. I didn't ever think it was a mistake or of dropping out. I didn't even get bored, since the crowd support was pretty good, and bigger than at other, smaller races I've done.
And while I started to threaten Kira for making me run fast, the paster pace meant everything went by really quickly. It also helped that I've done all my running pretty much alone. Thirteen miles solo is mentally much more draining than running with my BFF, who could tell me stories about her new church job, and whatever else we talked about.
It was also fun to run through Fort Wayne, especially since I used to spend a lot of time in the South end while I was in school, but I haven't been there much in recent years. I told Kira to prepare for me giving her a nostalgic tour of Fort Wayne, and it started when we ran past South Side High School, where my elementary and middle school concerts used to be, and where I spent a lot of hours swimming in the Natatorium. We also ran through Foster Park, where my dad would walk during my oboe lessons, and we almost ran past my oboe teacher's house.
When we entered the stadium, we were basically at the 13 mile marker, and I wanted to just run like crazy for the last .1 mile, so I said to Kira, "Girl, we need to BOUNCE!" and we ran hard toward the finish line - holding hands like the lesbians people accused us of being in high school.
I'm so glad Kira was there for this race. And damn, that girl makes it look so easy!
I would definitely do another half marathon, but one thing I learned during this training cycle is how much time I really need to devote to it. Next term, I'm teaching more and trying to write my dissertation, and I don't think I can squeeze a half marathon into that (not to mention, I'd be doing a lot of icy miles). I think the 2013 Fort4Fitness might actually be the next half I'd do, just because training for it over the summer is so convenient.
Next up: John and I are running the Halloween Haunting 5K and 10K respectively. I'm not going to worry about getting a new 10K PR. If it's a good day and it happens, then it will happen. I have, however, carefully put together a costume, so at least I'll be festive this year. I've been taking my 10K time too seriously, and I think that's part of why I haven't gone below 60 minutes. But this time I'll be carrying a prop, and it's hard to take things too seriously when running in a costume. No hints, I'll just post a picture after the race.
It's odd, now that the half is over, to only do a 7 or 8 mile long run, but it's also been nice to drop down in mileage after running so much. I'll write more about that after the 10K.
So thanks, Kira, for running with me! I think the three of us had a pretty good weekend and a very successful race.