Just like that the race is in the past.

It’s kind of crazy to think that it’s been 10 days since Cassidy & I ran our Half in Toledo. Bittersweet almost. While we both had a few hiccups towards the end of our training, I’m super impressed with how many miles we totaled leading up to April 23 and how well our bodies really did hold up. My nerves weren’t nearly as bad as I expected them to be and I think that had a lot to do with having a running buddy this time around. I let Cassidy get nervous and I kind of just chilled leading up to when we hopped into our corral. 😉 Our alarms went off around 5:30am that morning and we were in the car heading to the University of Toledo campus by 6. I don’t eat before runs but I knocked back my O2 Gold, Catalyst and Spark + BCAA mixture before we got to our spots and then we waited in the bathroom line. Side note: you’ve ever ran any race, especially Half Marathon distance or longer, the bathroom lines might be the worst part! So gross but also very necessary. HA! It was COLD in the morning. I think at gun start it still wasn’t quite 40* but it was clear and there was literally no wind. Nearly perfect! I probably should’ve worn leggings or capris but ended up going with my favorite Lululemon shorts and trusty Swiftly Tech long sleeve and called it good. My knee was a monster that day so I figured I’d quickly recap some mileage below and break down what the race looked like for me personally:

Mile 1

We lined up with the 8:12/mile pacer and instantly got sucked into the crowd. The adrenaline was pumping and I felt good right out of the gates! Our first mile was slow at 8:24 but we knew we had plenty of time to make up for that and towards the 1 mile marker we were able to find some elbow room that allowed us to be side-by-side.

Mile 2

The excitement in me wore off REALLY quickly after passing mile 1 and making a hard right turn. Every time my right foot would strike the pavement I would get a shooting pain sensation either straight up my leg or straight down to my foot and I seriously thought my leg was just going to give out. I think I spent the entire 8 minutes and 17 seconds of mile 2 praying/begging God to settle the pain and let me get to the finish line. I think a lot of that continuous prayer was me pleading with Him that I had worked so hard for this. Thank goodness I had sunglasses on because there were definitely some tears, too. In my mind I knew that if the pain didn’t subside, sooner rather than later, there was no way I would be able to keep running. My TomTom watch was ALL over the place in regards to my heart rate probably due to the panic I felt about possibly having to call it quits.

Miles 3-10k marker

There was a cute little bridge that we got to run under just into mile 3 {I immediately thought–perfect Insta pic!} and as we climbed a small incline on other side of it, my knee pain disappeared. It was seriously amazing & obviously an answered prayer. I took that as my sign that I was going to finish this Half and at the moment, Cassidy & I picked up our pace fairly significantly and were right back to the 8:12 pace group. We began weaving through some of the prettiest neighborhoods I’ve ever seen and there were so many spectators and cute signs that changed those tears at mile 2 into smiles and my excitement came back. When I saw that 10k marker and saw our time, I was really happy and feeling like the second half of the race would be great.

Miles 6.2-10

These 4-ish miles took us down some even nicer streets where I feel like I was admiring the homes and yards more than paying attention to my running. Which was kind of a blessing in disguise. I made my first stop at a water station at mile 8 and while I never trained with any kind of fuel, I popped 2 Jelly Beans in my mouth hoping they’d give me a little bit of an energy burst. Legs, lungs, knee, mind…everything just felt good. The course was staying almost entirely flat and the amount of cheers around every curve were super motivating. I even started thinking that we might be able to start making a move to go ahead of our pace group!

Mile 10

This was an interesting mile stretch. When we hit the 10 marker it was a REALLY long straightaway directly East and into the sun. The pavement changed to blacktop and there were a lot of tar fill-ins which were kind of awful as the sun reflected off them right into our eyes. Again, another reason I was thankful for choosing to wear my sunglasses. In my head I was rejoicing in the fact that in less than 25 minutes we’d be crossing the finish line and it should be allllll downhill from here. Cassidy & I were still running next to each other and had created a nice little pocket of a few seconds between people in front and behind us, which was super nice.

Miles 11-12.5

As soon as we got to the water station at mile 11, I grabbed a cup from the front and C veered off to grab one at the end; from there, we had to play a little bit of frogger to get back together. Once we got settled a random girl literally decided to try and pass on Cassidy’s left and almost tripped her up, it was kind of a blackout moment but all of a sudden we got disconnected and she was about 10 feet ahead of me. No big deal, so I thought I’d pick up my speed to get back to her but almost instantly my knee locked up and I knew it wasn’t good. I could see her ahead kind of looking to find me but she was on a roll so I’m glad she just kept going! I backed off my pace and the tears came again. At about 11.5 miles I saw my brother-in-law on the side of the street and he snapped some pictures and gave me a wave–that little bit of encouragement was what I needed after looking down at my watch and knowing that if I could just keep going I could be off my legs in less than 20 minutes! I felt like I was running in mud and that my leg was going to pretty much fall off but I also knew that I would be done so much faster if I kept jogging instead of trying to walk the remaining mileage. I calculated finish time in my head and knew even if I ended up with these last 2 miles at a 10 minute/mile pace, I could still be under 1:50:00 for a finish time so I let that keep me going.

Last .6 miles

The last curve before heading straight and into the football stadium was packed with people cheering and even though I had my headphones on and had Tech N9ne blasting, I could hear them saying ‘don’t give up,’ ‘you’re almost there,’ ‘don’t let anyone pass you’ and somehow I had a tiny bit left in the tank to make it across that finish line. About 3 feet beyond that line, my leg gave out and I knew that it was a total God-thing I was able to keep going the entire time.

If you look at my results, below, you can clearly see where in that mile 11 everything went south. 🙁 I had an 8:03/mile pace going into the last 1.4 miles yet ended up with an overall pace of 8:18. While I’ll definitely not upset about my time by any means, I’m bummed with how I felt at the end. Hoping my knee gets its act together ASAP because my next Half is June 3 and I’ve been taking it really slow these past 10 days–I’m so ready to amp up my training again and cross yet another finish line! <3