I’ve been chasing my best half-marathon time for nearly two years. Finally, last weekend I smashed through the barrier.
Let me tell you, it was well worth the wait.
But I couldn’t find my training partner at the start of Sunday morning’s race. I lost another in the crowd near the toilets. Fortunately, I ran into colleague and friend Ben, who had trained for six months to run his first-ever half marathon.
We agreed to at least to start the course together. I told him I’d drop back if I felt like I was pushing too hard.
That was my plan, anyway. But it never happened!
We set off at a decent clip. Our first mile was around a 9:15 minute pace. I assume our second was the same. I stopped looking at my watch for a few miles and just ran.
Ben and I chatted for much those first 5 miles – about his training, his family, my family, the supportive online running community and racing strategies. When I looked at my watch again, I saw we’d just finished our fifth mile at a 8:50 minute pace. And our sixth, seventh, AND eighth!
The miles were ticking by. We both felt fantastic!
We pushed each other along as we ran. Ben brought a handheld water bottle with him and I grabbed liquid at each water stop, took a swig and sprinted to catch Ben.
I sure didn’t want to let Ben down on his inaugural race, so I matched his pace. My lungs were clear, my legs felt strong. Onward!
Around mile 10, with a 5K to go, I realized that not only was I going to set a personal best time, we were on track to break the two-hour mark. This milestone was a long time coming for me, as I’d aimed for and missed it more than once over the last two years.
My dearest friends have witnessed this – more than once, my bid for a sub-2 half ended closer to the 2:05 or 2:10 mark because I started out too fast.
But not Sunday.
We zipped past runners along the river path. We enjoyed the view of Rochester’s skyline from the University of Rochester’s river campus. We cursed the slight ramp that led us up to the Ford Street bridge.
That last mile flew by. As we ran down South Plymouth Avenue, the wind pushed us backward. I grunted. Ben grinned.
“Let’s finish this thing,” he said to me as we approached Frontier Field. We stepped up our pace and sprinted in to the finish.
As we crossed, I could see the clock had a number that began with a “1.” Success!
I finished in 1:58:45 – my personal best half-marathon time by exactly FIVE minutes. That previous PR, set in October 2011 in Toronto, needed to come down.
Hey, if its going to happen…why not go big?
I wholeheartedly believe that Ben and I were meant to run together Sunday morning. We tripped into one another at the start. We fell into a steady pace easily and at times, ran in sync, our feet slapping the pavement in perfect rhythm.
Congratulations to us both! I can’t wait to see what our next race brings.
— Victoria Freile (@vfreile) September 22, 2013
Everyone loves a PR! Tell me about yours in the comments!