Going into the Disney half marathon last weekend, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was a little nervous. I hadn’t really done any serious training since running Marine Corps at the end of October and my mileage was no where near where it should have been to properly prepare me for the half. But the good thing about Disney is you can tell everyone you’re “running for fun” – and that’s totally what I did.
That is, until I set a 10-minute PR and ran my first ever sub-2 hour half marathon running a 1:52:55.
I’ve got to admit, it didn’t hit me right after the race, but I’m pretty freakin’ excited about this PR. I wasn’t expecting it. I don’t feel like I had really pushed myself, in the race or in training. But I still PR-ed, by a lot.
I think several factors came into play. For one, the Disney course is extremely flat, save for a few minor hills here and there. I’m used to running in the Lehigh Valley, PA where the only way to avoid hills is the drive to a rails to trails path, and even then there’s a slight gradient.
I also think my fitness has improved dramatically. Since running Marine Corps, I’ve added in at least one strength training session a week by doing IronStrength every Monday. I’ve also started running with faster people, including my speedy boyfriend. When you run with fast runners, you get faster- simple as that.
On Friday night as I was laying out my race outfit I thought, “I really just want to go under two hours.” That was doable. That was a 9:05/mile. And that goal is the one I told everyone, including my running partner for the day, Cait, during the prerace retreat. But secretly I thought to myself, “How cool would it be to run a 1:54?” That was roughly a 8:42/mile average and many of my long runs had been around that pace.
When it was time to start the race, I found myself lined up on the starting line, and feeling good. It was warm, about 70 degrees, and extremely humid, 94 percent humidity, but I was ready to see where my fitness was at. The race itself is a bit of a blur but I remember feeling confident in my sub-2 goal and increasingly more confident in hitting 1:54.
Towards the end though the humidity was really starting to get to me. I felt my hamstrings starting to tighten up because of the flatness and the windy finish began to take its toll. But with the help of Cait, I made it to the finish line and could not believe the time on my watch. I beat both of my goals!
I felt exhausted at the end of the race probably because I think I sweat out about a pound per mile from the humidity. I’m pretty happy with my results but the race left me craving more. More speed. More PRs. More training.
Training for my spring goal half marathon won’t start for another few weeks but I’m going to start building mileage. If I learned anything from Disney it’s that, the speed is there, I just need to believe in it and make it happen.