Last week was a marathon. Late nights, early mornings, out-of-town visitors, meetings and events, no sleep. And, today, I ran a half-marathon.
At 6am, I'm barefoot in pajamas, standing on the cold tile of the kitchenette in our hotel room, smearing almond butter on a whole wheat bagel. We dress for the race and, needing just a few more minutes of sleep, I lie down. W and E have to wake me up. I could have slept forever.
At the Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon race, it is so cold and so wet. We stand near the start, bundled up in our sweatshirts. It's close to the start time and I take off, tucking my energy goo in my sports bra and weaving my way through the crowd to the right seed. At 90 seconds till the start, I'm still trying to get to the seed.
The plan is a 7:45 pace. I'm sort of wondering whether the pace is possible or not and I'm trying to find a little space. Runners are clumping together in a way that I'm not used to. And then I realize why: there are pacers.
I run just behind the 7:30 pacer all the way to Mile 9. It kind of feels like cheating. He sets the pace and I don't have to give it a second thought. But I remind myself: I'm doing the hard work. I'm putting in every mile. When he veers off for the porta-a-potties, I feel like I've just lost my security blanket. But, soon enough, he's back and he picks up the pace again.
At Mile 9, I feel good enough to pass the pacer. Maybe it's crazy; maybe it's cocky. But I do it. And I run my very best, my very hardest all the way to the finish line.