Last weekend I finished one of those races that, upon reaching the finish line, makes you feel like you're exactly where you want to be. For those of you who raced the Snake River Half Marathon, you likely felt the same way I did waking up that morning: fearful of wind so strong as to blow us all into the river. I know I woke up to winds out of the north that made the house creak and the American flag hanging off our porch assume a new resting position in horizontal. For a race already known for its strong headwinds, I knew it could only be worse if additional winds were forecasted, too.
Bryan and I considered staying home. In hindsight, that would have been our first and only mistake of the day. If we'd never have driven down to the race, we likely wouldn't have run at all that day. The closer we got to Wawawai landing, the calmer it felt. We looked down to the Snake River driving down Wawawai grade, taking in the view of a river free of white caps.
I had a long warm up to do considering the temperatures hovered in the low 30s. It precluded a fast race start. I started out running with B&B Physical Therapy owner and TriFusion sponsor, Mike Lauffer and his friend. My coach advised me to start out conservatively, but if the pre-race adrenaline caused me to run faster than my goal pace, I was only allowed to take advantage of it in the first 5k. Using this as my motivation, I bridged a gap between Mike's group and the group I desired to run in: the one led by Russell-the-work-horse-Abrams. To bridge my gap, I found myself running about a 6:50min/mile pace, which fell just on the boundary I'd established for myself as too fast.
Nonetheless, I'd just passed the 3-mile marker and snuggled in close to Lora Jackson running behind her man, Russ. We ran comfortably behind him until the 5th mile marker when Russ began to lose his steam. After giving him my thanks, Lora, Allison Beall Chauvin, and myself struck out against the headwind to the turnaround point, at which point the strong headwind turned into a billowing tail wind. The hardest work of the race had just concluded. Now, all that remained involved a tough mental game.
Allison and I ran together for much of the way back until about mile 12. At this point, I reveled in the feeling of legs that had not completely given out yet. I began to thank myself for running conservatively up until then. I don't think I've run a race feeling as though I had a substantial kick to use to the finish line. The last time I'd run this race, my feet burned for the last 4 miles. This time Ruby's Lube successfully kept my feet comfortable, even preventing the calluses on my arches from turning to blisters as they've been known to do in the past.
I pushed myself to the finish line, and with the finisher's clock visible in the last half a mile, it served as incredible motivation that contributed to a nearly 1-minute PR. I finished 2nd in my age group with a time of 1:28:53, happy to have followed my plan, exhausted from a hard effort, grateful to have avoided a disastrous flop.
It definitely set me up well for this final 6-week push to the Boston Marathon. This morning, I used last weekend's race experience to propel me through my 17+ mile training run with my pup. Maci and I ran from home to the YMCA. Bryan found us mid-run to hand out water, then continued on to the gym to swim. While he swam, Maci and I made our way through Whitworth campus before approaching the Y. We ate a snack, I sat in the hot tub and stretched, and we cleaned up all before the rain began to fall.
Currently, Maci sleeps swaddled in her blanket, snuggled as close to me as our bodies will allow. I am anxious for what next week's training plan has in store. Most importantly, I am blessed.