Tuesday, April 01, 2008

National Marathon

Unlike my friend Sarah, I haven't been dutifully posting much about my training (other than complaining about my boredom with the Capital Crescent Trail in my last post). Leading up to the National Half Marathon, I dutifully ran hills (not enough, more on that later), sprints on the treadmill (the running clubs at the track scare me), and pushed a fairly aggressive pace for long runs. (Sub-10's... which still shocks the shite out of me). So I thought I was ready for Saturday and I planned to PR.

Well pride (and planning) goeth before the fall. A cute almost two year old gifted me with some really nice cold germs on Easter Sunday. I woke Wednesday morning and thought this is.not.happening. I took allergy meds/decongestants until Thursday night, while mentally trying to will the crud to clear up before Saturday. Since ephedrine and distance running can be a bad combination I boldly chose to keep up the good fight drug free. Sheer determination (read my stubborn disposition) made me decide to run the race even though 24 hours without decongestants had moved the gunk into my chest. (Yum, I know. Trust me, I was living with it).

Saturday dawned clear (Thursday's rain went away) and cold. Um, isn't it spring? The race was also EARLY... 0700 start and we left the house at 0515. . As previously reported we test ran the middle part of the course and its series of hills from miles 4 to 8. I don't what we did that day but they were much harder than I remembered. Plus, every time we came to a new one (especially the one on Michigan Ave), I thought "I don't remember this hill, I thought we were done with hills." I was buoyed by the crowd near mile 8 though... the students of Howard University gave us a loud welcome, in a spot on the course I would have predicted would have been desolate. A fellow TNT alum had jumped in with my partner and I just past mile 6 and paced us when we needed it most. (While we were climbing the hill leading up to her, the thought of her presence was neck and neck with the next water stop as our leading motivating factor). When my spirits (and lung capacity) began to flag at mile 11 she lured me to the finish line with the promise of alcohol. (What can I say? It worked - I made it across the finish line.)

But as I crossed the line, I knew I hadn't met my (aggressive) goal. But a foundation of good training and the support of my friends had gotten me across the line about 19 seconds faster than in Philadelphia. After much reflection (ok and a little pity party), I will take that. There is always next time...