I did not go out too fast.
I was unsure what this morning would bring for me. I had NO time goal in mind and repeated the words of coach George in my head. Start slow, finish fast. Race for your place, not a fast time. I woke up before 6 to check weather.com then my email to see if race director Jay Wind was going to cancel it[I knew he wasn't].
I arrived at the C&O Canal faster than I thought I would. It has been years since I have made the small trip down there to run. In 2003 when I first began training for marathons I ventured down to the canal every weekend with friends and family[though most often with my mom and Ashley]. I've had good runs down there, I've had great runs down there. I've had runs that I begrudgingly would classify as neither good nor great[back then I didn't understand that every run is good simply because you can run].
At the start line I said to my friend Kathy - *what's your goal?* *I don't even know what pace to go out at*. I went out at what felt like a comfortable pace that I could maintain for 13.1 miles.
Mile 1 - it starts to snow. Oh how beautiful the snow is. Mile 2 - it starts coming down harder. Mile 3 - I wonder if wearing racing flats on a frozen dirt trail was the best idea. Mile 4 - I'm really wishing this race was on the roads. Mile 5 - can't wait for the turn around so the snow will not be in my face. Mile 6 - I realize that for 6 straight miles I have barely lifted my eyes to look up, the terrain is too uneven and now there is an inch of snow on the ground. Mile 7 - the snow is picking up even harder[I realize that despite the slowing of my pace due to the snow I could still PR] wow? PR on a course like this? Mile 8 - My eyes are starting to shut. I can't open my eye lids. I go to brush off the snow off of them and realize that it's not snow. It's ice. I remove my gloves and attempt to pull the ice off my eye lashes. The ice is weighing them down and making it hard to lift my eye lids. Who knew that little bit of ice could weigh so much? I determine the only way to get it off without ripping my eye lashes out is to hold my fingers on them and *literally* melt the snow. [I continue to do this for the rest of the race] Mile 9 - I realize that with now two inches of snow on the ground, pr'ing will be impossible. Mile 10 - my feet are slipping all around. I can't find even footing. Mile 11 - I begin to feel sorry for the people I see on the way out. They must only be on mile 3. Mile 12 - I think my garmin may be broken? How does it have me at a 7:52 pace? I'm pushing as if I am running a 6:30. Mile 13 - Thank you thank you thank you Lord for almost getting me through this - only a little more now.
Finish - 1:34:50. Seconds away from my time last March at National Half Marathon. Conclusion - I am way fitter this winter than last if I can push out a 1:34 on a frozen dirt trail. A trail that has a canal on one side and the rushing rapids of the Potomac River on the other side. A trail that is not closed to the public[read dogs]. A trail that was covered in two inches of snow or more by the time I finished. This has me renewed. I can't wait to get out and race another 1/2 on the roads. Mind you I won't be choosing one that has hairpin turns either like GFC Half Marathon.
f.a.i.t.h - when I wasn't thinking the above thoughts during the race I thought allot about faith. Every day whether we choose to or not we put our faith in others. Faith that the people who built my house, did it properly. Faith that the people who set up the traffic light system didn't set it up so all lights were green at the same time. Faith that the people in the factory who built my car, did not make a grave mistake and forget a part. Faith in so many things every day.
This morning I had to have faith. Faith in God that he would not bring me to a challenge that he did not expect me to complete. Faith in myself - that I could push myself through less than ideal conditions. Faith in my training - the money was in the bank, it was time to cash the check.
I did not stick around for the awards or to see my place. The roads were getting worse by the minute.[though I do think I may have finished in the top 10 women] My faith was tested yet again on the way home. While on the Dulles Toll Road I saw pileups in both directions. Ahead of me a car in the middle lane continued to skid and slide around for miles. I did not pass for fear that this person would loose control. A couple of miles later, I saw more accidents. I had to have faith that I was going to make it home in one piece, that my decision to run today was not a decision to unknowingly risk my life. I made it home in one sore piece and I am thankful.
All things considered I'm pleased with my performance. I can't wait to get out there and race again!
6:41/6:45/6:51/6:58/7:03/7:06/7:05/7:22/7:23/7:32/7:32/7:52/7:35 - finish 1:34:50