For those of you who have been following my blog for a while you know that I one of my goals for the past year and half has been to get a new PR for the half marathon. There huge disappointments and some close calls and that magic number was beginning to haunt me. I was hoping that I would finally get it during the Brooklyn Half Marathon but it didn’t happen.
Without any other half marathons planned before my marathon training began I honestly thought I would go another year without achieving this goal. I tried really hard to let it go even though I would have one half during marathon training where I didn’t have to add any extra miles on from my long run. But it would be in between my two 20 mile long runs and take place in Central Park, a very difficult course to get a PR on.
But that thought of a PR was hanging out in the back of my mind and as I saw my pace improving almost every week it started demanding some serious thought. Before I gave it my full attention I decided to check in with my former coach, Jim.
I am probably the only runner who has a panic attack because they are running faster. I wrote a rambling email about how my pace was improving a lot and how I’ve been running all of my long runs at a comfortable conversational pace but I’m getting faster. What do I do?
Jim was there at the beginning of my new running life. He knows my history and my general pace and I trust his running knowledge immensely. If Jim says I can run a certain pace then I know I can. He came back with a new marathon pace. My eyes nearly popped out of my head. If I can run that pace for the marathon it will give me a one hour PR. WHAT THE!?!
For the rest of the day I went back and forth between a panic attack and overall excitement about the new possibilities. One of which was that half marathon PR. If I ran the goal pace for my full marathon during the half I would have a PR. Since I had to run a bunch of these miles at marathon pace any way why not go for it.
So that was the plan — go for the PR. But I also had to be smart. Yes, I would go for the PR but if it felt too strenuous I knew I would need to ease back a bit. This was a long run after all.
Race day came and the weather was cool but it was humid. This might put a wrinkle in my plans. But I took off and maintained a comfortable pace for the start that ended up being faster than my marathon goal pace. I tried to stay in a comfort zone but maintain that pace, I still had to make it up the Harlem Hills and run this loop twice. The only time I slowed down was after I got up and over both Harlem Hills. I was then able to make up that time going down Cat Hill and through the south end of the park where my teammates from my running club were cheering.
My second loop was a little slower but still under my marathon goal pace. My clothes were now soaked through and it was getting harder. I decided to keep pushing on and again made it over the Harlem Hills with a decent time. I slowed down again after getting to the top and pushed the pace again when I ran down Cat Hill. Things were getting harder but I kept pushing. I knew if I kept my current pace I would get that PR.
One more trip by my teammates and I knew I was in the home stretch. Slowing down was no longer an option. This race finishes in front of Tavern on the Green and as anyone who runs regularly knows there is a final climb before the finish. That final climb was hard but I made it and yes, I got that PR by two minutes!
It was one of those races you dream of. I left it all out on the course. I pushed hard when I could have easily slowed my pace and I achieved this huge goal that at the beginning of the summer seemed like it would never happen.
I’ve learned so much about myself during this season of marathon training and I am incredibly happy about everything that I have achieved to date. I’ve got a new goal time for the marathon and with my last 20 mile long run tomorrow I’m excited about what I can accomplish in the marathon this year. No matter if I finish with my original goal are hit the new goal they will both be significant PRs and that was what I wanted to accomplish.
In case you forgot, I am also raising money for The Trevor Project. Please help me reach my goal.