What I Learned: When you have a plan, have faith and stick with it.
I had only trained last month with three long training runs and decided a run-walk strategy was the best way to finish the half marathon. Feeling great at mile 7, I was tempted to dust runners and skip the walk segment. From past experience, I knew that it would have been foolish to crank up the pace halfway through a half marathon and try to sustain it. For several miles, I would rubber band along the Rock Creek trail, passing runners on the run segments and getting passed by the same runners during the walk segments. But eventually, the runners who passed me earlier were not passing me anymore. It convinced me to stick with the plan.
The course had a time limit of 2 hours and 45 minutes. I was afraid of falling behind the 2:45 pacer and being asked to get in the sweep truck. For most of the race, I was comfortably ahead of the 2:40 pacer. The cumulative effect of rolling hills caught up with me at mile 10. My longest training run of one 11 miler and two 10 milers could account for this performance wall. At this difficult part of the course, I could not stay in front of the 2:40 pacer. So I kept her in my sight. On the last mile, I had enough in my tank, was relaxed enough to stave off cramping, and started to reel her in and pass her.
The half marathon is about patience. 13.1 miles is a long distance to cover. Breaking it up into ten minute segments made it easier to mentally cope with the distance. I only had to focus on running for nine minutes to earn the one minute walk reward. A younger me would have scoffed at the idea of walking any part of the race and allow my ego to get in the way. But given my recent history of cramping and abbreviated training, I was grateful to cross the finish line running. My finish time of 2:38:11 was NOT a PR and NOT a disappointment.
Running, walking or hobbling across a finish line is victorious.