As you are aware, after months of training, I did not start the BAA Half Marathon last month due to Achilles issues. My doctor basically gave me the following options: 1) Run the BAA Half without PRing because you’ll be in pain and needing a lot of recovery time 2) Take care of this injury, cross-train, and run a PR in late October/early November. As disappointed as I was to not get to do BAA for a second time, I am so glad I chose the latter option. I was also excited to debut this new outfit my mom bought for me for my birthday back in June.
My fiancé was a real trooper. He drove 1 hr 15 minutes to Bristol, RI so I could do this race. I wanted to PR so badly that I tried to do everything perfectly. I tapered. I carbo-loaded for two days prior, and I forced myself to eat a little before the race (I often have trouble eating before races and its hurt me in the past). While I was stretching, someone came up to me and said “Are you Kate Mroz?” It was one of my online running buddies. We were thrilled to finally meet in person, and took a picture to send to our running group.
My strategy was to stick with the 1:40 pacer and just see how it felt. Thankfully, it felt perfect. The first two miles felt easy and I was shocked at the splits, but I decided to control myself as I’ve started out too fast in the past and paid for it later. Sure enough, mile 3 had a few slight inclines and was slower, so I got worried but by mile 5, I knew I was at the right speed. I was also in awe of the breathtaking view of the water. This race was absolutely gorgeous.
As those of you who know me are aware, I LOVE TO TALK (and that’s an understatement). Thankfully, I spent miles 1-11 talking to Matt, the 1:40 pacer, and Chris, another runner from Massachusetts. Chris and I were determined to break 1:40 together. Around mile 4, I learned that she lost her sister to a heart attack this year, and not long after that, had to put her dog to sleep. She said she was doing this race for her sister, and I decided I would too. (Of course, I still kept my planned mile intentions at each mile- so don’t worry, friends and family) We sent up a prayer to Darlene and we thanked her at the end of the race. This was very fitting considering that right now in Exploring Catholicism, I am covering saints. The communion of saints is something I love about Catholicism, that we not only have a who list of official saints whom we can read about and look up to, but we believe that all persons who have gone before us are people to whom we can pray for guidance.
During the race, Matt, who has done numerous triathlons, gave us the following advice. “I’d love nothing more than to see you pass me during the last few miles if you feel you can do it. Just don’t speed up too quick and have me catch you!” This made me cautious, so Chris and I decided together to stick with him until mile 11. At mile 11, we speed up by about 10 seconds, knowing that mile 12 had some inclines. At mile 12, I just took off, thought of all those months of training, and gave it my all. I somehow ended up doing my last mile in 6:48. It was the only part of the race that was truly painful, and I wonder if I should have sped up earlier.
I saw Bryan after passing the mile 13 marker. There was an abrupt, awkward turn at that point, so he wasn’t able to get a picture. I knew I must have been doing well because Bryan did not, as he usually does, tell me to “hurry up!” He was just like “Go Kate!” Sure enough, when I got to the finish line, I saw 1:37something and was elated. All I wanted was sub 1:40, so it surpassed my expectations!
Chris finished shortly after me and we hugged each other. Matt finished right on target at 1:39 and we both thanked him for pacing us. Poor Bryan was wondering why I wasn’t trying to find him and was talking to all these strangers. Thankfully, he walked over to the finish line and met everybody.
Shortly after that, my online running buddy Stephanie crossed the finish. We later found out that we both placed 2nd in our respective age groups, and we starting jumping up and down. My official time was 1:37:32.
This race taught me a very important lesson. Running, contrary to popular belief, is not an individual sport. Sure, my time is my own and I run independently of a team, but my fellow runners bring out the best in me. Running reminds me that God comes to us through other people and places.
Right now, I am focused on doing easy runs, strength training, and cross-training in preparation to start training for Boston.
Overall, I highly recommend this race and really want to do it again (am actually torn between putting my name in the NYC Marathon lottery or doing this race next year since they are the same weekend). The directors and volunteers were amazing. When we arrived, there was a problem with the tide and there was tons of water on the course. We were warned that we would get wet. With only a 10 minute delay from the original start time (which I welcomed since it gave me more warm-up time), they managed to get all of the water off of the course. I was pleasantly surprised and did not get wet. There was plenty of water every mile and a half, and volunteers to cheer us on. The course was gorgeous. Flat with a few very very small inclines that mostly just helped to stave off boredom. I’m lactose intolerant, but my fiance enjoyed the post-race pizza party. This is a great race if you want a fall half-marathon PR.