Sunday, October 18, 2015

Spokane Half Marathon

A beautiful morning for a race presented itself to the bustling group of participants in this year's Spokane Marathon, Half, and 10k last weekend. Bryan and I have felt pretty blessed by the type of weather that has made many of our races this year so enjoyable. Sunshine, clear skies, and a variable breeze felt better than the cool drizzle that has encased Spokane this morning, just one week after our run.

I don't have much to share about my day, other than I felt pretty good on legs that have already embraced the off season. Three fast ladies sped off the start line ahead of me, and I never crossed paths with them during the entirety of the race. I ran this morning striving to maintain my pace at 6:45min/mile. It would mean a half marathon PR on what many consider to be a hilly, challenging course. Yet I felt optimistic.

Setting out on the Bloomsday course, we veered off into Browne's Addition toward the Sunset highway before finding Government Way and the notorious Cemetery Hill. Instead of turing right to embark upon Doomsday Hill, we ran further out into Riverside State Park before we turned onto Aubrey White. Every time I turn left at this point, I think about all the marathoners that must continue into Riverside. Here, I remember thanking myself for opting out of the marathon and running the half instead. Though I say this every year, maybe NEXT year I'll do it.

By mile 7, my stomach started to urge me to eat. I downed my GU and grabbed an extra gel at an aid station just over Doomsday Hill. Tearing up Doomsday Hill in the 10th mile surely felt different than striding up it at the end of the 4th during Bloomsday. Nevertheless, my strategy to use quick baby steps, keep my chest forward, and work to keep my body falling over my feet helped me to finish the last 3 miles of the race with more strength than I felt I had when I crested Doomsday.

Unlike in years past, the 11th and 12th miles followed the now finished Centennial Trail into the still developing Kendall Yards. Another race I ran earlier this year, the Negative Split Half Marathon, also used this trail. I'm glad these courses take advantage of what I think has grown into one of Spokane's most defining attributes. From this area, not only do you overlook the spectacular Spokane River below you, but also the skyline of the city.

Turning the final turn to run past the Flour Mill and into Riverfront Park, I felt I had successfully paced myself over the course of those thirteen miles. When I looked up at the race clock, it confirmed my feeling. Still well under 1:30, I have grown to appreciate 1:30 as a defining benchmark for me in my running career. Only two other times have I slipped under the 1:30 mark, and this time, I established a new PR with a time of 1:28:41, just twelve seconds faster than my previous PR I achieved on a completely flat course two years ago.

How could I not appreciate the gains and achievements of this year? Perhaps my biggest reason to feel thankful is that my body has embraced more speed and strength this year and not broken down in an effort to attain it. With the help of my coach and a little bit of my own embellishments I can attribute only to my physical therapy background, I think I understand my body better now than I ever have before. Therefore, I am just one month into my recovery from 2015 and already excited to embark upon training for 2016.