I’d run three half marathons before Sunday, but none were like the fourth.
The temperature was in the lower 60s at the start with spotty, dense fog, some misting and a bit of wind. Humidity was pushing 100%. The course was very wet, but there wasn’t a lot of puddling. No one needs to run on soaked feet for 13 miles. I felt pretty good when the race started. I went off in corral 4 at 7:02.
I hit the button on my watch, fired up some music and settled in for the run. The crowd was great, as usual. Despite the less-than-ideal weather, people with inspirational and funny posters lined the course and cheered and screamed. So much of a half marathon is mental; the posters and motivation along the way really help.
My time to beat was 2:08, but I was pretty certain the humidity would prevent me from accomplishing that. Still, I was hopeful and wanted to give myself a better chance in the second hour by pushing it a little harder in the first hour than I had in previous half marathons.
My 5k time (3.1 miles) was 27:39, about right where I wanted to be. The 10k time (6.2 miles) came in at 58:44, slower than I would have liked. To beat 2:08, I was going to have my work cut out for me. I know I have to get to the 10 mile mark at 90 minutes to have any kind of a chance to break two hours, much less 2:08. As usual, I rolled through mile 10 at 1:40. I’m remarkably consistent at hitting that mark at that time. I knew I wouldn’t break two hours, but I still had an outside shot at breaking 2:08.
Miles 8-9 into the French Quarter were tough. It was raining a bit and visibility was very low. The wind also picked up. And I knew what was just ahead. Mile 10 has always been a mental roadblock for me. That’s where the course turns up Esplanade at the end of the French Market. The last 3.1 miles are a straight shot up Esplanade and into City Park. I finally was able to stare mile 10 down and not let it beat me. Instead, it caught up with me around the 11.5 mark.
I pushed and pushed at the end, but just didn’t have it. My lack of adequate training, the elements and toe injuries did me in. In spite of it all, 2:13 is a very good time with which I am pleased.
My four half marathons look like this: 2:12, 2:08, 2:28 and 2:13. The 2:28 was the Jazz Half debacle last October during which much of the field wilted in the heat and humidity. Like in school, you throw out your worst one.
I don’t know if I’ll ever break two hours, or 2:08 again, but it’s fun playing the mental game and continuing to try.