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A freaking headwind, just what I need!

Yup, that’s what I said to myself as we came out of the relative shelter of Hollywood Crescent on to Dallas Rd.

15K in to the race, and I’m right on pace for a 1:52:00 half marathon, and I get hit with a headwind!

Race day had been going pretty well up to that point.

I had slept in a downtown hotel the night before, so that I didn’t have to worry about driving in from the Westshore & finding parking. Not to mention that I would have had to leave the house around the same time I need to eat breakfast before a big race, so sleeping downtown was just easier for multiple reasons.

I slept well the night before, but had a hard time getting my breakfast down in the morning, but then food & I never agree with each other at such a hideous hour of the day.

I made it down to the Running Room to meet up with my fellow clinic members & walk down to the start. We stopped for people to check their gear, then headed over to the start line. I was anxious to just get started.  So after a little pre-race chit-chat with some fellow runners, I put the headphones in the ears and started to tune everyone else out and focus on what I was about to do.

By now, everyone knows how “I Gotta Feeling” by Black Eyed Peas starts, and as soon as I heard it pumping in to my ears, I started to get hyped. I was ready. The time was here, it was time to go.

With the count of 5,4,3,2,1 we were off.Sort of. We pretty much walked to the actual start line, then started to run.

I don’t remember much of the first few kilometers. I was just one of thousands flooding through the streets of downtown. We turned here and there and headed up Johnson to Cook St, then down to the park. It was great to see so many people out there supporting us all.

Coming out of the park it was time to get the first package of Gu down, but that didn’t go well. Just like my stomach had no interest in breakfast, it was rebelling against the Gu as well. It rebelled for the entire race, but I choked it down and headed off along Dallas Rd.

Down at Memorial Cres., my friend Rita was out on her lawn, in her jammies, to cheer me on and see me pass!  It was just the boost I needed after choking on my Gu.

I was ‘in the zone’ and not really paying attention to what was going on around me, other than the runners in my immediate vicinity, when I hear “hey AWESOME” being yelled at me from the oncoming runners. It was  my ‘coach’ from the Running Room cheering me on.

Before I knew it, It was the moment I had been waiting for since I made the decision to run the Half Marathon this year not the full. I’m at the corner of Quamichan & Cowichan when I see a sign, that just 52 weeks earlier had made me question my sanity. This time I smiled as I ran towards it, knowing that I was on the home stretch now. From this point on, I was heading back towards the finish line.

It wasn’t very long after I past this sign, that I got the energy boost I needed.  I know it’s not fair to be competitive with a friend, especially not with those who are in a more ‘mature’ age group than you, but when you realize that someone who has always been faster than you is behind you, it is then that you finally start to believe that the months of training have paid of and  you can do this.

I’m glad I saw her at this point, because it wasn’t 2 kilometers later that I was confronted with the evil head wind that tried its hardest to beat my will for almost 5 kilometers!

At this point, my race became a mental one. My legs were tired and my head was trying to tell me to quit, but I couldn’t. I was doing well. I was on pace to set a new PB, I was ahead of that friend who had always been faster, I was going to make everyone so proud of me!  For 5 kilometers I fought the headwind, and my legs begging me to quit.  I just kept telling myself not to let her pass, not to let her get ahead of me, not to give up. This was my race, I had worked hard for months for this day and I was going to own it.

There was one last hill standing between me and the finish line. Everyone who races regularly in Victoria knows it. It’s that tiny little hill at the ‘one mile to go’ mark that feels like a mountain on race day! But I did it, for the first time, in any race I’ve ever run that covers this ground, I ran up it without stopping to walk before during and after. I showed that hill who was boss and pushed my way to the finish line. That last 800m was the longest 800m of my life, but I pushed through and saw 1:55:05 on the clock as I passed beneath it.  I knew that wasn’t my chip time (which ended up being 1:54:09), but it was still a new PB, and that was all that mattered!

I set a goal to run the half marathon and set a new PB and that is exactly what I did (even if that damned headwind stole 2 minutes from me).

I want to congratulate everyone who got out there and ran on Sunday.  Whether you met your goals or not, the fact that you got out there and ran is a great accomplishment!

Remember, “The miracle isn’t that I finished, the miracle is that I had the courage to start”.

Now, it’s time to start training for the Full 42.2 in 2011!

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