When I signed up for the Covered Bridges Half Marathon, it was kind of a whim. I had deliberately not made a note of registration day (the race sells out in less than an hour when registration opens), because I was already in for the Vermont City Marathon and the CBHM was just one week later. But call me sentimental, because I couldn’t resist going back to my first half marathon race, just for fun (and to raise money for charity).
And then I didn’t give it much of a second thought. I knew I’d be in shape for it, but probably wouldn’t be able to PR, given I should have raced 26.2 miles seven days earlier, so I thought of it as a fun long recovery run, just when my legs should be starting to itch to go for a run.
Despite the horrendous conditions at the Vermont City Marathon, I ended up recovering almost immediately. In fact, the next day I felt normal – probably because I had essentially just run the equivalent of a long training run for a marathon on the day. I went out for an easy 5 mile trail run on Friday and I had that feeling in my legs, like they could go all day if I wanted them to. And by the way, the trails are just beautiful now spring has worked its magic. Green, shady and cool, and a joy to run.
Sunday morning I woke up…to the sound of rain. From one extreme to the other, it would be a cool temperature race run entirely through rain. Any other year, it would have annoyed me. This year, I walked to the starting area feeling almost appreciative for what would at least be safe conditions for running. I am not a rain runner. I’m not one of those people who embrace the saturation. If it’s really raining I will usually head to a treadmill instead. But on Sunday? Bring it. 🙂
Since I had no illusion about a competitive pace for the event, there was totally no pressure on my finish time or worries about pacing every mile. My goal was to go out, run comfortable and enjoy the beautiful course. And I did. I chatted with people at the start, I high-fived every kid on the course and I thanked all the volunteers for being out there. I ran with a smile on my face, I chatted and joked with runners along the way and I stopped to give a huge hug to my friend Kim, who was working a water station halfway through. It just felt good. Toward the end of the race I started chatting with a woman who was doing some alternating sideways running. I asked her if she had ITB problems and she explained she was just feeling a little different in her hips because she was 16 weeks pregnant. We talked about running pregnant for a while and then she put her hand on her heart and said, “This is just such a grateful day for me.” She was clearly choked up and while I don’t know her whole story, I recognized in that gesture what so many of us have felt at one time or another while running or racing. We get to run. It really is a privilege to be able to get out there and run away the miles under your feet.
I couldn’t believe how many people were out on the course and at the finish line cheering in the rain. There was one woman in particular, by herself on the side of the road somewhere between mile 10 and 11, yelling out everything you want to hear toward the end of a race. She was wonderful. She made me feel strong and tough and relentless and I know other runners felt the same way.
And how did I do? I finished in 2:10 plus a handful of seconds (I haven’t checked out the official times yet). I ran faster than I’d expected I would, while just slow enough to make me competitive with myself and want to get back to running races like this one just that little bit faster. Crossing that finish line was something I needed after the black flag at VCM. It felt like I’d been given a chance to run the second half of the race again, but this time there would be crowds and a medal and food and free beer. 🙂 I said on Instagram before I ran that I was looking for redemption with this race. I found it.
What’s your favorite race that you always try to schedule into your schedule?
Have you raced in the rain?