The Bristol Independence Half Marathon was run on Sunday morning in the tail end of a passing low that dumped buckets of rain and some pretty strong winds on the Northeast. Just over 450 runners showed up because we’re New Englanders, after all, and what’s a little rain? The wind had pretty much died down by the time the race started though the rain kept up for the entire time we were out there.
I had a total girl moment when I woke up and thought, “I don’t know what to wear!” I had planned on running in tights and a t-shirt but thought the rain might make my tights wicked heavy. The choice is to wear lots of clothes to keep warm and deal with the extra weight or wear very little clothing and hope it’s not too cold. I left the house in tights and a tshirt and changed my mind by the time I drove to Bristol. It wasn’t very cold out, thankfully, and shorts and a long sleeve worked out well though both soaked up plenty of water. The sopping wet pile in my sink after the race felt like it weighed 8 pounds!
My race plan was primarily to run with a race plan since I haven’t done it before. I wanted to see if I could set a plan and stick with it. Not go out too fast, drink water every couple miles even if I didn’t want it and push harder every mile.
The course in Bristol is flat with lots of corners. I like corners, it breaks it up. We were running around the down town area and then out through Colt State Park and back to the start/finish. I intended to split the race into four segments of three miles each. The first three I wanted to run 8min/miles and try to whittle 10 seconds or so off in each of the next segments. I ran with my Garmin watch that I’m still not totally stoked about even after updating the firmware. It seems to read out a high end average pace and I only get an accurate idea of what I’m running at each of the mile marks. The first three miles I stuck to my guns and ran flat 8s. As I started to move forward into mile 4 I felt pretty good and kept thinking about the phrase ‘on the edge of comfortable.’ I felt good, could definitely maintain that pace and could start to push it as the race went on. Around mile 6 a young girl running her first half caught up to me and we fell into sync. We ran together for three miles or so and it was really good to have someone to pace off of. I would have probably slowed down if she hadn’t been right there stride for stride. We were maintaining 7:53 or so and the rain was coming down harder. I broke away from her just after mile 9 and told myself to push for the next 3. What’s a 5k? NBD. You’ve got this. It was a hard push at the end and I ran the last 3 over the edge of comfortable into uncomfortable but doable. As I approached the 12 mile marker the guy next to me commented about the last mile. I looked up toward the finish and it seemed like an awfully long way away! When I mentioned it he calmly reminded me that it was more than a mile, 1.1. We started kicking in down a flat straight bike path, neither of us letting the other get in front. Silently egging eachother on. That’s a great part of racing, the unspoken comararderie paired with fierce competition. He outstepped me just at the coral but it was a good strong finish.
My chip time was 1:42:58, not quite the sub 1:40 I was aiming for. I know that I haven’t been focusing on training and have done very little speed work so it was as I said it would be going in, a base line for the next two this summer. I’m happy with the result, I liked how I ran and didn’t fall into my normal trap of slowing down in the middle miles. And since it started at 6:30 in the morning I was home and showered and ready to go sailing by 9! What did you do this morning?!