The morning I participated in the 35th Anniversary of the Dallas Running Club (DRC) half marathon. This historic Dallas race, one of the oldest half marathons in the US, is a popular training race for those who are training for the White Rock Marathon in December.
My RunOn training class meets on Sunday mornings for our long runs, however this week we had the option to run the DRC half in lieu of our training class. So several months ago I registered for this race, which is the second of three half marathons I will be running this fall.
Last night I checked the race time weather and it was going to be 64 degrees with a 30% chance of rain. I laid out my clothes, shoes, race bib and pre-race breakfast then tried to got to bed early to get some rest. Even though we “gained” and extra hour last night with daylight savings time, I didn’t get any extra sleep because I woke up around 2:30 AM and had a hard time going back to sleep.
My alarm went off at 5:20 AM and quickly got dressed. I was at my neighbors house to pick her up at 6:00 AM and we drove about 35 minutes to the White Rock DART station. From there we were able to catch the shuttle (school bus) to the race location. Since we were early, I immediately went to the porta potty before the lines got out of control.
Around 7:45, the RunOn group walked over the start line together and I lined up between the 2:00 and 2:10 pace leaders. Because it was overcast, I was a little cold and had worn an old long sleeve t-shirt over my actual racing shirt the entire morning. I waited unil the last minute, then pulled off the long sleeve and threw it on the side of the road. At the end of the race, I saw several bags of discarded clothing that will be donated to charity, so I am happy I was able to contribute!
For my first half marathon, I used my Garmin religiously to keep track of my pace. Two weeks ago when I ran the 13.1 Dallas half, the clocks at each mile marker gave me a good idea of pace throughout the race. However this morning I could not find my watch and my foot pod battery needed replaced anyway, so I ran the entire race without any indication of how fast or how slow I was running.
Last night, I saw this tweet from lululemon…
I immediately decided to make that my running mantra for this mornings race. Instead of trying to break 2 hours or to beat my prior race times, I was simply going to enjoy every moment of this race. Several times throughout this mornings race, I repeated that to myself…
Breathe deeply and appreciate the moment.
During the first mile, I heard one of the women next to me say, “I always love this view of the race.” I looked up and saw a huge line of runners running shoulder to shoulder on a trail that curved back and forth across the hill in front of me.
After the first mile, I waited for the doubt and negativity to creep in but it never did. I kept taking deep breaths, held my head up and enjoyed the beautiful views of the lake. At one of the water stops, I was handed a cup of water from one of my old Team In Training teammates (thanks Wayne) and excitedly said hello.
Through the residential areas, there were lots of families sitting outside and cheering us on. There were also LOTS of hills in this race but I was prepared for them. RunOn had provided on overview of the course and a break-down of when to expect the hardest hills (hello there miles 3 – 6).
The course started on the north side of the lake, headed down the west side, then looped back up along the east side of the lake. I knew that when we reached the southern tip of the lake around mile 8, all I needed to do was follow the trail to the finish line.
Around 8.5 miles, I heard something behind me. I woman had tripped and I turned just in time to see her fall and hit the ground HARD. Her chin and arm smacked the ground and someone immediately asked if she was okay. She lifted up her arm and shouted, “NO!” That is when I noticed that her elbow was sticking out at a strange angle, so I assume it was dislocated. Race volunteers where instantly there and calling for medical assistance, so the surrounding racers kept running.
4 Real: For the next mile, this woman was on my mind. I can’t image how frustrating it would be to have an injury end your race and I couldn’t help but wonder if this was her first half marathon or if she was trying to set a new PR. This is when I decided to dedicate this race to two people: my mom and my husband. My mom is home for 8 weeks recovering from foot surgery and my husband is in a cast recovering from a running injury. Today I was healthy enough to run and for that I am so thankful, so today I decided to run in honor of them.
Breathe deeply and appreciate the moment.
My lack of training this past month finally caught up with me around mile 11. People often talk about hitting the wall, especially during marathons. Today I didn’t just hit a wall, I felt like I was climbing over that wall inch by inch. My knees were aching, my calves were tightening up and my legs felt like lead. I actually shouted “Thank the LORD!” when I saw mile marker 12. I contemplated walking part of the last mile but I didn’t see the point that late in the race. I kept my feet moving, although my pace was so slow that I could barely call it running.
People were passing me but I didn’t care. All I knew was that I was close to the finish line and I was going to cross it. When I turned the corner at mile 13, one of the guys from my training class passed me smiling and said “We made it!”
For the first time the entire race, I looked up and saw a race clock. It read 2:02:20. I was beyond thrilled and smiled at the cameras for my finish line photo.
After the race, I got my medal and posed for the professional finisher photo. Then I grabbed some water and tried to stretch out my calves that were in knots at this point. As soon as I could walk normally again, I got in line for the food tent.
The food tent had pizza and empanadas (sorry, I ate the pizza before I took a picture). Then I made my way through the vendors and stocked up on Cliff bar samples and Chocolate Coconut water.
I also took advantage of the free stretching at the sports medicine tent. It felt so good to have someone stretch out my legs and hips after all of those hills!
Finally I got in the very long line for the shuttle bus back to the remote parking lots.
While I was waiting in line, a lady came up to me and thanked me for pacing her during the race. She told me she had been chasing me the entire time and ended up finishing just under two hours! My official race time was 2:01:08, so she was one of the many people that passed me those last two miles. I love how friendly the running community can be and I was so happy that I was finally able to participate in one of the Dallas Running Club sponsored races.
What race did you run this weekend? Did you run for the race environment or did you run to race?