It doesn’t matter how long the race, or how far away the starting line, the alarm always seems to ring at 4:30am on Race Day, and with that ring of the bell my long hiatus from racing ended last Saturday with the Mistletoe Half Marathon in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Runners race for different reasons. Some thoroughly enjoy the excitement of finishing just one race while others are on track to finish as many races as possible in their lifetime, these 50 States, or across the World. An elite few can realistically aspire to win their races.
Then there are those of us that just want to run as fast as we can possibly train our bodies to run with the best measurement of success being a side-by-side comparison to how fast our running mates have forced their bodies down the same course.
The temperature was around 32 degrees at the starting line where roughly 850 runners gathered. After verifying that Age Group awards would be based on ‘chip time’ as opposed to ‘gun time,’ I positioned myself closer to the back of the pack – being fairly certain my legs would not willingly spring into action just because the gun fired.
The course was a cross between an out-and-back and a loop, guaranteeing we would hit the worst of the hills at least twice.
At the halfway mark my watch showed elapsed time at 59 minutes, and I spent the next mile or two calculating, and re-calculating how I would stay on pace through the 2nd half of the hills.
I’m pretty sure the time will soon come that I can no longer finish a half marathon in less than 2 hours, but I did not want that day to be now.
The only time I stopped running was through the aid station just before mile 7 where I took a cup of water and one of gatorade, and hoped I could drink some of each and catch my breath in 30 seconds or less.
For the rest of the race, I ran with all my might.
After the race, my husband asked me if it was pretty course, “You ran through the Wake Forest campus, right?” It was true, the course traveled through Winston-Salem’s beautiful Buena Vista neighborhood, continued through the Graylyn International Conference Center, Reynolda House and Gardens, through Reynolda Village, onto Wake Forest University’s campus. . . I had no clue.
** Several days after the race we learned there had been a problem with the chip timing system. When the dust cleared, I found myself with a 2nd Place Age Group Finish. Even better.