I was still feeling so pumped after my half marathon in February that I just had to do another one, so two days later, I signed up for the Highlander Half Marathon at the end of April. I felt like maybe I was a little crazy to do it again so soon, but I was excited! I also wanted to see if I could break two hours again!
I’m so glad I went for it, because this race was AMAZING!!! It was definitely one of my all-time favorites. I was the best-prepared I’ve ever been for a half, since I was already used to the distance and just had to maintain it leading up to race day. Thirteen miles felt like an old familiar friend at this point.
The night before the race, I had my typical “pre-race jitters” and tried to get as much sleep as I could. Eve was up around 2:30 am and then at 5 am, so after I fed her at 5, I just got up and started the day. It’s a good thing, because we actually were able to leave right at 6:30 am to head to the Radford University Dedmon Center, where packet pickup was being held. The girls were sleepy, but they were pretty good sports about the whole thing. They snuggled up with their blankets and rested in the car.
We arrived with plenty of time to spare. I got my packet, tried to nurse Eve, although she wasn’t interested, especially with all her sisters goofing off around her, and then got my bib pinned on and ready to go to the start. The girls got dressed, and waited to cheer me on. They are just the sweetest, and I love how they are so proud of me.
It was a little chilly and just the slightest bit windy, enough so that I was shivering waiting to start. I contemplated taking my jacket, but I knew I’d warm up, and it’d just be annoying to carry it for so long. The President of the University fired the start gun at 8 am, and we were off!
I was making great paces, and I was definitely close to the beginning of the pack of runners for most of the race, which really surprised me. I was trying to stay around 8:45 min/mile or so, but I was coming closer to 8 minute miles for a good part of it. I kept passing the same few girls, and then they’d pass me, and repeat.
I felt like I found my groove between miles 3 and 4, and really fell into a great rhythm. This was my first point-to-point race, so I was a little nervous about not getting the adrenaline rush that I usually do when I turn around at the halfway point and know what to expect on the way back. I still had the rush around mile 7 or so, which was also when I realized I might be able to beat my last half marathon time. I kept doing my best, but I was getting tired because there were so many hills! Thankfully, there were some nice downhill slopes, too.
Carilion sponsored this race, and while I was running, they put on a helicopter demonstration for those who were waiting for runners. The girls even got to go inside, and they were so excited to tell me all about this later on!
Once I made it to mile 10, I took comfort in just having a 5k left. We ended up on this trail through the forest at mile 12, which was the first time I couldn’t see anyone in front of me and worried I was lost when the route wasn’t clearly marked. I thought I was going to blow it on the last mile! Thankfully, I didn’t, and I realized that I could come in at 1:55, so I started going as fast as I could. Michael and the girls were there cheering me on as I came up to the finish line. I love hearing them yell for me!
I officially finished the half marathon in 1:55:01, which is a personal record! I was so excited and proud of myself for pushing hard and doing my best. We didn’t stick around for the awards ceremony, but I later found out that I placed first in my age group!
We caught the shuttle bus back to our car, and on the way home, we dropped Michael off so he could catch another bus to the airport. He was leaving for San Francisco just a few hours after the race!