When I sat down to dinner the night before the race, I was peppered with queries about my goals: what was I shooting for? What did I want to get out of the race? How'd I feel? This was somewhat new to me, but since I've become increasingly involved in a running group, forming friendships and receiving (and giving!) motivation, I realized how influential these questions and goal-setting could be. Tentatively, I said that I was going for under 2 hours, since I wanted to set a PR.
Deep down, I was both sure I could do it--hadn't I run consistently throughout the summer? And hadn't my fellow runners (and L) told me that I was getting faster?--and also sure that maybe I shouldn't set too high a goal for myself. I mean, after all, my best races were the once where I went in without a firm goal and just ran it.
I set out with Abby, and we ran and ran. The course was difficult, both in terms of hilly terrain and slick, muddy road conditions, but we were enjoying ourselves. It was fun to be running through a cool Ozark morning, watching the horses run beside us at one point (they were excited!) and looking out at the gorgeous green hills. Even a five minute rain couldn't drench our spirits. We were running with each other, and we knew that our fellow runners who we knew or just met were running alongside.
Toward the end of the race, Abby took off, feeling good. I stayed close behind, the final hills taking a toll on my already tired legs. I was planning to let it loose on the last mile, but the hill was so steep that I just couldn't sprint. I realized that I probably could have pushed it harder a bit earlier, but this is my 3rd half after all--I'm still learning how to budget my energy. I saw the finish line, and ran as hard as I could, crossing the line and setting a PR (personal record) for the half.
The whole experience was amazing. I registered for the race on a whim, but the best part was that I didn't run it alone--I ran it with running friends and amazing women who all set PRs of their own. And best of all, I've decided that I am ready for a marathon, and will keep increasing those long runs this fall with the goal of running one in December.