My goal for this year was somewhere in the 2:10-2:15 range. To recap some of the bigger events in my training towards this, I ran a 2:11 during a training run (encouraging) and then ran a 2:23 in a race a few weeks ago (discouraging, though it was pouring rain the whole time). As a result, I wasn't sure where exactly I was going to land. I was hoping to meet my goal, but I had my lingering doubts.
In spite of the doubts, I woke up with a sense of determination. I geared up (I didn't have my Fleet Feet kit yet, so I rocked my Dusty Bottoms gear) and headed into Downtown Modesto with Sarah. I met up with my friend Chad, who decided to run his first half as part of his Ironman training. Chad is quite a bit faster than me, so I thought maybe he could drag me along to a good time,
The first couple of miles were not all that great (as the first couple of miles tend not to be) and I felt like I was dragging myself along. Ultimately, I found my groove by the time we hit "Mt. Modesto" (a freeway overpass, which shows how flat the race is) about four miles into the race. After that, it was all flat country roads where I started to hit my stride.
When I started the turnaround at mile 7ish, I caught up with Hector, a fellow Dusty Bottom (is this what we are calling ourselves?), who committed himself to running the rest of the way with me. That ended up being really good, as it helped me not only maintain my pace, but actually pick it up just a little bit.
Before I knew it, we were rounding the final bend, surging to the finish, and it was done!
Normally whenever I do something that should be considered a success, I start the barrage of self criticisms - how there were ways I could have improved, how I didn't do as well as others, and how it was ultimately a failure. The nice thing about this race was that didn't happen. I ended up finishing under what I had prepared as a best case scenario, and on top of that, I took 47 minutes (almost 3:30 per mile) off my time from 2012; as a result, I just felt proud and satisfied.
Next year: under 2 hours. You heard it here first.