A blog by runners. For runners.

Race recap: Bridge Run Half Marathon

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I had a lot of feelings going into my half marathon – The Greater Binghamton Bridge Run – the last weekend. I ran this same race last year and had 2-minute PR. It’s a hometown race, so there’s a lot of pride involved. Heck, the course even meanders right past my home. I train the roads. I know the obstacles. So, of course, this is my guaranteed ticket to a personal best. Right?

Well, I knew I had trained relatively well, but I also knew I slacked on the last several weeks of my plan due to our busy schedules (selling our home, helping my parents move, etc.). I was excited to see what some new workouts might do to my finish time (my goal was 1:40 or as close as possible), as I had had surprising PRs in the 4-mile, 10K, and 15K distance. So, when I laced up to the start and heard the gun go off, I was ready for anything.

Thing is, a quarter mile into the race, my stomach had other ideas. Have you ever felt raring to go and then had something small just ruin your race experience? I’m sure most – if not all – of you are nodding your heads in agreement. This half marathon marked the first race when I had to take a mid-course porta-John break. But I’ll get to that in a minute.

Like I said, my stomach felt off from the start, but I still found myself comfortably sandwiched in with the 1:42 pace group. I wasn’t wearing a watch, but I knew from asking our mile times up until mile 6 that I was still in that pace, despite feeling like I was holding myself back. I definitely credit hill repeats with my increased speed. I didn’t do a lot of actual track training this season, but I did make sure to get a good 10-12 hill repeats in every other week.

When I got to mile 7, the wind kicked up. My stomach did all sorts of flips and turns and I was thankful to see a pit-stop at the start of mile 8 with a green light to enter. Well, I didn’t want to stop, but I knew if I didn’t, the rest of the race wouldn’t be pretty for me. After a full minute, my legs felt rather stiff and my spirits were low. There was no way I could PR like this, I thought, so I mentally gave up.

A half mile after my defeat, I heard a girl next to me yell “thanks!” to a race volunteer. It jarred me because I had been so zoned out and negative-minded. We were racing up a hill to make mile 9 when the girl said “hello.” We struck up a conversation and within a minute or so, realized we had a lot in common. We both have daughters. We both ran before pregnancy and find training more difficult as moms. Still, we both love running. And what’s better: She said we could still finish under 1:45 if we kept a steady pace.

Whereas I had felt incredibly defeated before, I had a partner for my journey. That last 5K? It passed before we knew it. We were chatting and laughing and smiling – and all sorts of spectators were commenting on the great time we were having while still keeping a respectable pace.

We got within viewing distance of the finish and I was shocked to see 1:44:00 splash across the clock. I had a chance to PR, even if only minimally. So, she told me to gun it with all I had. I did – and I crossed the line in 1:44:16, taking 10 seconds off last year’s time despite stopping mid-way through for a full minute. Though it wasn’t the 1:40 finish I had hoped for, it was still a solid race all things considering.

I was so encouraged by my finish that I actually signed up to run a fall marathon. I’m now taking a break until my training starts at the beginning of June for Wineglass 2014. I want to sneak in one last 26.2 before going for child number 2 – and, though I am trying to keep my expectations low, I think this is my year to break 4 hours.

Who else PRed at a race recently? Or has anyone signed up for a fall marathon? We’d love to hear your goals, successes, and even challenges.

Written by Ashley Marcin | Picture via Bridge Run Half Marathon