Women's Half Marathon Race Report

Yesterday was a wonderful day. I think out of the 8 half-marathons I have now completed, it was my FAVORITE. It was also my slowest time. Funny how those two go hand in hand.

My overall time was 2:21:32, which averages out to a 10:47 pace. My longest training run was 9 miles at an 11:18 pace, which just goes to show that race-day adrenaline really works. You can (and should!) train at a much slower, easier pace than you will run on race day. Going up to 13 miles in training is not always necessary. Good to know! (Of course, if you are going for a PR, training up to 13 or 14 miles and doing some mid-week speed work is helpful!)

My day started at 3:56 a.m., whenI awoke four minutes prior to my 4:00 a.m. alarm. I got up and got ready and was on the road to meet friends at 4:45 a.m. We were on the road to Nashville by 4:55. We easily found parking and walked to meet our YMCA training group. Only 17 of our 21 made it to our 6:15 a.m. pre-race picture and prayer due to parking issues, but those of us who did shared hugs and well wishes. We got into a big circle, joined hands, and our RESTORE ministry leader led us in a prayer. It was a really, really neat way to start a race. We found our corrals and it was time to go! Jo Dee Messina sang the National Anthem beautifully, and we found ourselves tearing up. I was glad I was not the only one.

I started in corral 2 with several people I know from my training group, my running club, and my church. Overall, I probably knew at least 50 women on the course. THAT is what made the day special. I ran the first 2 miles with 3 running buddies, but I lost them shortly after. I knew I needed to take it easy and stick to my race plan---baby the calf and walk the hills. When I chose to walk a portion of the hill in mile 2, they went ahead. That was fine with me. I really like to run my own race. I often saw women I knew and chatted with them a bit, but then went my own way. My favorite portion of the race was an out-and-back portion where you could see people ahead of you before the turnaround and people behind you after you passed the turnaround. I am very nearsighted without my glasses and slightly oblivious when I run, so people from my running club and Y group kept yelling "Donna!" from the other side of the road as they passed. I'd see them just in time to yell, "Hey! You look great!" or something similar. They encouraged me and I encouraged them. It made my race to just see so many familiar, friendly faces.

The course was TOUGH. The whole first half was hill after hill. And not little hills, long drawn out ones. I walked a portion of the each of the worst ones, and I tried to make up time a little on the downhills. I had saved my MP-3 player for the 2nd half, but it only played one song and then died, despite being fully charged. (That thing ALWAYS gives me trouble.) At the 9.25 point, I had reached my longest training distance and was feeling it. Then I saw a familiar face running toward me--which was unusual--you rarely see people running in the wrong direction on a race course! It was my running club President. He was there to support his wife and all the running club members. He fell into step with me and before I knew it, I was running at a 9:30 pace. (His normal pace is like a 7:30 mile or something!) After about a 1/4 mile, I said, "You're killing me!" and he went on to find our next club member on the course.

I knew I had wanted to run the last 5K of the race hard. I did fairly well on the downhills. I have been taught how to run them without "putting on the brakes" with every step. (Forward lean, quick foot turnover, relax and pretend you are a little kid running down a hill again.)

Then there was the final long uphill over the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge. I didn't have a hill left in me at that point, so I walked for 2 light posts, then ran for 2 light posts all the way to the top. After that, the finish was all downhill. I didn't plan to sprint for fear the calf would lock up, but about the last .1, I kicked into high gear.

I teared up a little at the end because this race brought me JOY. It was hard, but it reminded me why I love running and racing. I got to see several of my training group finish, and that was so inspiring as well. Unfortunately, I saw a woman collapse just steps from the finish. She didn't just faint, her heart stopped. I watched as paramedics fought for her life performing CPR. After 20 minutes, she still had not revived. I cried and prayed for her as she was cared for. I've been scouring the news for updates on her. I believe that she lived since it has not been in the news. I will continue to pray for her recovery.

I'm reminded of how blessed I am to be able to participate in this sport and to be healthy.


Anonymous said…
The lady that collapsed at the end is a dear friend of mine. She, unfortunately did not survive the heart attack and passed away this morning, Sunday after a long struggle at the hospital. She put up a good long fight, but did not make it. Her spirit is with us always. Keep her family in your prayers.
RunnerMom said…
I am so, so sorry for your loss. I am just devastated for her family. I saw just now on the Women's Half Marathon Facebook page that many will run a race in Lynn's honor this fall by tying a pink ribbon on their bib in remembrance. You will all be in my prayers.
...Barbie... said…
Great race report and it was sad to hear about the woman who passed. =( That last bridge - man was it a doozy!!
Chelle Turnbow said…
I'm soooo....sorry for your loss, I ran upon her as I was crossing the finish. My husband who was a spectator and a RN here in KY was one that helped administer CPR. He didn't get to see me finish due to assisting!!! We have been thinking about the woman all Weekend!! I'm truly sorry and our thoughts and prayers go to you and to her family at this time!!!
Anonymous said…
Very sad. All we could think about the rest of the day was the lady that collapsed. Sorry about your loss.
lawmonkey13 said…
I'm very happy for you! It's hard to find our joy in the face of adversity, and you have had to work hard to overcome your injury. I'm very proud of your hard work!

I'm also terribly sorry to hear about our fellow runner who passed away. This saddens me more than I can say. I'll be praying for her family.
Kim said…
Donna - you have been a great coach and mentor this whole summer. I never even thought about doing a 1/2 marathon but felt encouraged through out the training and now I'm hooked! It was great to see you cheering us on at the end.

I'm so sad for the loss of the family and friends of the woman in the race. Hopefully they can find comfort at some point.
shenx said…
Donna, your a great coach because you encouraged all runners. gob bless. Thanks for this article.
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