Yesterday was my last official race of the 2012 Season. It was my third time doing the Tucson Half Marathon, and by far the most seamless, and enjoyable (minus the dig deep effort) run race I've ever experienced.
I actually didn't even plan on signing up for this race. I've always had an urge to do a hometown half marathon, the Fiesta Bowl, but when the opportunity came up to join my buddy Andrew down in Tucson all inclusive with a pacer set to give us both huge PR's, I just couldn't resist. So, I tagged along with them and before I knew it we were at the start line for the race.
It was an unbelievably beautiful day. Super chilly to start, but with a few layers on and the sun quickly rising it made for absolutely PERFECT race conditions. Since I've done this race a few times, I didn't really have to do any planning. I knew the course, I knew the logistics. It was all about putting in the miles, having a strategy and getting it done.
I basically had 6 weeks to train after Soma, with a run focus. Michelle actually had me running a day or 2 more than I would normally do, but she seems to have found a way to get me to believe that I'm a lot more durable than I've think I am, and so much stronger than my past. I had some super easy aerobic runs, a few track race pace mile repeats and even a double run with the second one ending faster than race pace. Best thing about having a coach. NO thinking, no self doubt. I just DO. I read my schedule, I know the plan and I execute. I don't second guess (although at times wonder where the hell she came up with this stuff and how much coffee she had when she wrote the plan).
The goal time was 1:35. I don't even know why that number popped up. It wasn't something I've always wanted to hit. It wasn't a time that would qualify me for anything, and it wasn't a time that would put me in the running for an award. It was just a time. A time that was 2 minutes faster than my goal time for a half last year,that, at the time that would have qualified me for NYC marathon. It was a time that would give me a 3.5 min PR and it was a time that I never in my wildest dreams could have imagined I would actually every accomplish.
"No dreamer is ever too small; no dream is ever too big." Anonymous
The plan was to start out at 7:20's for a couple of miles to get our legs warmed up. Settle in to race pace 7:15s until about mile 10 or so and then lay it all out there. We nailed it. Our 2 miles were ~7:17 and while still cold and stiff it wasn't hard. We slowly gained momentum and after about 20 minutes the miles were just clicking off one by one. We played on the downhill sections and gained a second here or there. We nailed each mile at the goal pace, or faster aside from mile 11-12 which is the only real elevation gain section. And, let me tell you. That section HURT. That's where the pacer was key and her motivation and words were relentless and effective. As soon as mile 12 was done I knew our goal was in the bag. I picked it up a bit and left every single thing I had out there in the last 1.2 miles. While I didn't have quite the 25yard sprint that Andrew did, I didn't fade. 1:34:41. Just under 4min PR.
We both crossed the finish line with HUGE PRs and such an amazing sense of accomplishments. I can't thank Andrew and our pacer Jeanine enough for being such amazing partners for the day. It was painful yet so much fun.
This last race of the seasons ends a year that has been full of so much joy, sadness, ups and downs. It has been a year where I have found a strength inside myself I never knew existed. I've learned to dream, to believe, to never doubt. While there are many things with my personal life that I would give everything I had to change, I know that everything does happen for a reason and if I can make anything out of the lemons that were given to me this year it's most certainly that the sky is the limit, and that no dream is too big. With a side of lemondrop martini, of course.
I've managed to have a race season that started with run races in January, and instead of ending with the race of my life at Ironman Canada in August, I recovered and set out to break new personal goals and achievements.
I'm so happy for the support and belief that my amazing coach Michelle has given me for the past 2 years. She's pushed me to do things I never in my wildest dreams thought I could do. She helped me achieve PR's in nearly every single race this year, and PRs at every single distance from 5k to half marathon to sprint/olympic triathlons to marathon, to Ironman.
I can't wait to see what the future holds, and can't wait to start the new year with new dreams and new goals.