So, let’s talk about the half that almost killed my spirit.
I signed up for the RSD Half Marathon (directed by Team Brunazzi Events) for a couple of reasons.
1.) Close to home – 10 minute drive.
2.) Cheap price – roughly $45.
3.) I wanted another half under my belt – number 11.
Since running the Pittsburgh full on May 7th, my longest distance has been 8.5 miles. Therefore, I wasn’t what you would call “fully trained” despite running 26.2 miles a month before this half.
I convinced my best running friend (BRF), Ashley, into running this half as well (#peerpressure). She basically chose to run this race for the same reasons that I wanted to. Given how things went for the both of us, I feel bad for convincing her to sign up.
The race was scheduled for Sunday morning, June 11th. I kept stalking the weather like I normally do, and the predicted forecast called for a high of 90 degrees, mostly sunny…in other words, a death sentence.
And well…the WTForecast app was certainly trying to tell me something.
Sunday came around, and it was nice not having to wake up super duper early being that I had a very short drive to the start, as previously mentioned.
When I arrived, I waited for my friend Ashley to get there before grabbing my race bib, etc. After getting ourselves together and chatting for a bit, we got in line to pee. I chugged my pre-workout drink, and I had to pee again. And again.
The field of runners was small…27 total. This was the smallest half marathon I’ve ever participated in. I’m not sure if people dropped due to the weather or what have you. If so, I can’t blame them. AT ALL.
The race started at 8, and Shane (the race director) instructed us to line up. I reluctantly walked to the start and ended up in the front. I exclaimed that I didn’t belong in the front of the pack due to my expected pace, so I awkwardly tried to shimmy my way back. Didn’t work too well, as depicted below. Lol.
The course was an out and back along the Great Allegheny Passage. The first 3 almost 4 miles were rolling hills. Of course, I always start out faster than I should (big no no). BUT, I was optimistic and was truly hoping for a 2:15 or under. My training had been going well up until that point, so I figured…why not try?
The first part of the course was a short out and back 1.8ish miles out, and then back the other way. We eventually passed the start line again. At this point in the race, I was approaching mile 4, and I already knew that I needed to kiss my goal goodbye. The sun was blaring, and the humidity was super duper high – almost 100%. Not to mention, the overall temperature was continuously rising. I wanted to quit, but I decided to use the Galloway (run/walk) method in order to finish the rest of the race. I didn’t have an official interval timer on me, so I went by feel on when to run versus when to walk. Even still, I was riding the struggle bus.
Ashley and I were texting one another throughout the race. She asked, “what mile are you on?” I glanced at my watch, and it read “6.66.” The devil number – which pretty much summed up the entire experience.
I’m very grateful that I decided to take hydration with me because I was very disappointed in the amount of water stops along the course. There were 4. That’s a minimal amount on any given day for a half marathon, but on this particular day, there was a definite need for more. I don’t know how those who didn’t have water with them completed the race.
It felt like I was running this race alone since there were so few participants. I’d see a runner here and there, but that was it. This made it that much more of a mental battle. I was arguing with myself, and I felt like I was slowly losing my spirit. But I continued onward.
With every step, my pace was suffering. And by mile 10, I had stopped sweating. I was mostly walking at this point, and my only goal was to finish. I was at the beginning stages of a heat stroke/exhaustion, and I knew it would’ve been dangerous to push myself any more than I already was.
When I finished, they were already starting to pack up some items, which was disheartening to see. This was my slowest half marathon to date – 2:44:53. And you know what? I didn’t care. I was done. I started chugging water, and I ate a bag of chips.
I stayed in contact with Ashley, and she told me that she was having trouble. After a while, I decided to start walking to find her. I walked around a half of a mile when I finally spotted her. She was not looking good. She told me that she felt like she was going to pass out, and I knew that the EMTs for the race had already left (ridiculous, I know). I kept talking to her as an attempt to keep her conscious, mostly to remind her to keep drinking water. No doubt, she was having a heat stroke. After she crossed the finish line, I made her drink more water. She sat in the shade for several minutes, and I noticed how pale she appeared. We were both just glad to be done.
A lot of important lessons were learned (the hard way) that morning. There will be good races, and there will be bad races. But there will always be more races. So, while things didn’t go as planned, we will both move on from this experience stronger than before.