Running solo down a side country road just as the sun is rising over the ridge in the East, hearing the plodding of my shoes and my steady inhales and exhales, the rustle of crisp leaves stirred by the gentle morning breeze and taking note of the earthy, autumn smells and fresh farmland. The chill in the morning air is perfect these days! Too chilly to be walking without a jacket but perfect to still run in shorts and a t-shirt. How can a morning get any better? By the grace of God, about 4 mornings each week start out like that.
Yesterday morning was a bit different for me. I found myself running with about 5,000 other people through Hershey Park, the Milton Hershey School, and nearby residential neighborhoods in Hershey, PA. All but a handful of the other runners were total strangers to me yet we were all running with the same purpose. Finish…and finish well. My sister, my sister-in-law and her sister ran the Hershey Half Marathon yesterday. (Go Sisters!!) For my sister-in-law, that was her first half marathon EVER and I’m so proud of her! The race is the ‘easy’ part; the months and weeks of training are really the test for any runner.
My objective yesterday morning was to start out with a comfortable 8:45 pace, settle into a happy rhythm and plod along until I finished. I am after all training for a marathon and my typical pace is 8:45. At the moment, I’m not use to anything faster than an 8:30.
My sister and I lined up at the start. We were quite a ways back in the pack so we spent a considerable amount of time weaving in and out of other runners for the first few miles. Mile 1: 8:31 pace. Mile 2: 7:58 pace. “Ok, Kim. I think I’m going to let you go ahead, I’m not sure I can sustain this pace for the race. See ya at the finish.” Seriously, that was way faster than I anticipated running for the first two miles. I wanted to be conservative and make sure I finished strong. Kim was pushing ahead at a clip I didn’t think I could maintain for long. My hope was that I would catch her along the way as she eased up. Mile 3: 7:51 pace. Mile 4: 8:03 pace. I was just cruising along. I only looked at my watch when I completed another mile. I kept surprising myself with the pace! I felt fine. I could tell I was pushing myself beyond my comfort range but it wasn’t too painful. It was really a ‘no excuse’ morning. The weather was lovely, the course was hilly but not extreme and since I wasn’t in any major pain, I had no excuse to ease up to what I thought was a more reasonable pace. Cruise on I suppose. See what you’re capable or and try and catch Kim. Mile 5: 7:51, Mile 6: 7:56, Mile 7:7:46. What’s going on? How am I able to do this? My ‘normal’ pace has been 8:45-9:00 pace for months now, where’s this coming from? Mile 8: 7:56. Mile 9: 7:51. Mile 10: 8:02. Mile 11:7:56. Mile 12: 7:55. Mile 13: 7:31. Remaining .4 miles according to my watch, 7:21 pace. I averaged a 7:55 pace and finished with a new PR for the half marathon in 1:46:24.
My sister finished about 4 minutes ahead of me. Dang! Dang for two reasons. Dang because my sister beat me (again!) by a landslide to achieve her own PR and ‘dang’ because I achieved my own PR by 3 minutes. What a thrilling morning in Hershey! …and I seriously only expected it to be a chill stroll! Success #3 came when my sister-in-law crossed the finish line of her first half marathon! Good news all around for the sisters!
In six days, twin and I will run the Marine Corps Marathon. This will be my fifth marathon, her sixth. My primary goal is to PR and finish in under 4 hours. My hope is to start yet again with an 8:45 pace and feel out the morning. If I’m able, try and hold closer to an 8:15 or 8:30. We shall see! I can only hope my body is somehow able to repeat what it did yesterday morning and somehow double it to 26.2 miles! What are the chances of that!?
Follow #TeamBeef and #BeefFuelsMCM on social media to see how the two of us and 53 other Team Beef runners from across the country do on October 25th in Washington D.C for the 40th Marine Corps Marathon!