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An unexpected PR

I didn’t think it was possible to have a greater runner’s high than the one I did after the San Francisco 1st Half Marathon a week ago. I felt amazing when I finished. I was floating. I continued floating for the coming days, even on my other runs this week.

So when I woke up this morning, I was a little tired and not really expecting much out of my half marathon this morning. I slept a little on the way over and was still exhausted when I got to the starting line.

But the day’s conditions were perfect.

Marina Park in San Leandro was beautiful, as always.

It was cool and a little windy. I decided to keep my long-sleeved shirt on because when I took it off I felt a little too cold to stand around the 30-minutes before the beginning of the race. I used the portable toilets twice (love smaller races). I ate a couple Simply Fruit twists. I said goodbye to Thomas, who was planning on heading to work.

Then I made my way to the start line.

I love Brazen Racing for many reasons. One is that they are very organized. I never have to pick up my bib or shirt beforehand because they are totally fine with having race-day packet pickup. In fact, many people do that because Brazen makes it so easy.

The lines were actually a little longer at this point. I got there at about 7 a.m. and the race began at 8 a.m., so I grabbed my stuff and headed back to the car.

It was a little bare when I got there, but you can see the overcast sky.

In any case, I was starting to get warmed up when the race director began advising everyone on the proper use of D-Tag timing chips. The race directors are incredibly awesome people. The husband, Sam, even came out and showed some people what they were doing wrong with their chips.

The countdown began and after 4…3…2…1 we were off.

Mile 1: 9:48 — Whoa! Where did that come from? I couldn’t believe I was moving along that fast. Not at all. I didn’t even feel like I was going that fast, but I figured I’d better slow down.

Mile 2: 10:24 — This feels much better. This pace wasn’t bad. I thought I’d surely get tired quickly. I figured I wouldn’t be able to sustain this, but I kept moving along because it felt fine. I didn’t even look like I was trying all that hard yet.

You can see me back there in between those three guys. Moving along, feet off the ground.

Another in the same area.

And another.

Mile 3: 10:39 — Still feeling good. Slowing down a little, but not struggling at all. We hit the second aid station a little after mile three began. I did a Vanilla Bean Gu.

Mile 4: 10:15 — The Gu propelled me! I picked up the speed.

Mile 5: 10:43 — Still trying to find my happy pace. But moving along strong. I usually average 11:30 or so on these runs, so this was an amazing pace for me this far in.

Mile 6: 10:31 — I was nearly under the hour with this one and started a huge chunk of mile five within that first hour. The turnaround was coming soon, and I started to realize I might get a PR if everything went right.

Mile 7: 11:03 — Slowed down at the turnaround to grab a cub of Ultima Replenisher and take off my long sleeved. But I turned it around fast. Did another Gu.

Mile 8: 10:59 — Moving along. Kind of getting tired of trail ground moving below me, but I find solid spots to run on.

Mile 9: 11:51 — This would be my “wall.” I started to get a little tired here. Decided on a 30 second to a minute-long walk break. I thought this would be the point where I gave up. I figured I’d still finish strong, but not as strong as I could. I drank a little of my Gatorade and got a burst of energy to push through the doubt.

Mile 10: 11:03 — I picked it back up. I felt amazing in this mile. I look at my Garmin and was coming in well under the two-hour mark. Wow. This is turning out to be a great race! Did another Gu.

Mile 11: 12:09 — Two not so great things happened here. My toe started killing me because the tape slipped off. And I had to stop and refill my water bottle. I filled up the bottle, slowly, at the aid station and then went on and into mile 11.

Mile 12: 11:13 — I started to get really excited about halfway through this mile. I knew I’d be coming in much sooner than my previous PR, as long as nothing happened within the next mile. I suddenly had a kick in my step. I realized I was running my best race to date.

Mile 13: 10:42 — I really picked it up here, I even passed four or five people. I NEVER have that much energy at the end of the race. But I did. I had a smile on my face from ear to ear I’m sure. I was elated.

Mile .15: 1:25 — I ran it in. I probably ran harder than I’ve ever run before. I was so happy. I stopped my Garmin and breathed deep, smiling.

Official time: 2:22:45

That’s so not what I expected to happen today. Not at all. I figured I’d go out flat, with this being my second half marathon in six days. My aim is to always run an 11:30 average. Today I ran a 10:54 average.

As always, Brazen gives out the most amazing medals. The shirt, pictured first, are pretty awesome too. They are just a well put together company that makes the experience less about competition, though there is some of that, and more about having a good time. They really let runners compete against themselves.

So what made this experience so good?

I started out strong. I knew my footing was secure. I kept moving, even when I started to think about potentially stopping. I figured it must be a good time when I started out with clean shoes and they ended up covered in dust.

A before and after comparison:

That’s dirt all around the “collar” of the shoes. I’m thinking it may be time to wash them.

I also had fun. I think that may be making the greatest difference in my running as of late. I’m having a good time. I’m chatting with people. I’m enjoying the experiences so much more. It’s making me a better runner.

So I have a new PR. I hope that doesn’t mean I have to go nearly a year before I get another. Now I know I can run that fast and that far. Now I know I have it in me.

Also: Today I put my new running bottle to the test.

It’s a little larger than the Amphipod bottles I usually run with, and it’s a Clean Bottle. I picked three up for me and one for myself at the expo for the San Francisco run. I’m really loving it. It’s easy to hold and I can easily clean it because the bottom and top come off.

I’m hoping to write a long review-type post about the bottles in the near future.


Run with me!

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