Sometimes your race dreams become deferred- literally.
Sometimes those deferred race dreams come true a year later.
On Saturday, I travelled to Columbia to visit my friend Shawanna and run the Run Hard Lexington Half Marathon. I signed up for this race last year, just two weeks before I hurt my knee and had to defer.
Deferred races are one of the smartest ideas ever. When you defer a race and run it the next year, it feels like a free race- even though you actually paid the year before and probably paid a deferral fee as well, so the race is making more money off of your registration. When you do make it to the starting line the next year, you realize that making it to the starting line is a victory because you’re running a distance that you were too injured to run the year before.
I was happy to hang out with Shawanna, meet other Columbia-area runners, and see Alex who blogs at Tour De Blue Shoes and is the president of the Columbia Running Club.
I stayed at Shawanna’s the Friday night before the Lexington Half Marathon, and we woke up super early to darkness, cold temperatures, and wind. The race was 36 degrees at start time, which is the coldest race I’ve run this Fall and since last year’s Jingle Bell 5K. We picked up our packets on race day, and ironically, the race shirt was a tank top. I saw a few people wearing the race shirt, but only because they wore it over their other clothes.
I’m glad I packed multiple clothing options because I changed into a long sleeved shirt pre-race.
I wrote Cindy’s name on my race bib, because Cindy was supposed to run the Richmond Marathon- her first marathon- on this day. When she passed away, she was training for it and so excited. Her life partner, Edward, and friend Kevin were running in Richmond though. Many of my training partners and friends were also running races in Summerville and Mt. Pleasant, and all of us had Cindy, Edward, and Kevin on our minds.
No matter what the finish clock said, I was dedicating my race to Cindy, Edward, and Kevin. I tried to channel this positive energy and use it to help me on the hills in the race- and I believe it worked.
At 7:28, I decided I didn’t want to run around looking like a homeless person and ditched my “throwaway” hoodie and pajama pants in someone’s yard. The gun sounded at 7:30 and we were off.
After the last few weeks, my performance expectations were low. I had a sinus infection, went on a cruise, and had post-cruise “debarkation sickness” (dizziness and headaches). My mileage has been low as well. I decided to OWN IT and accept whatever my body and the clock brought, and like Race 13.1 Charleston, I didn’t look at my watch.
Our first mile was a slight uphill, and around the first mile mark, I saw the 1:45 pacer catch up to me. This gave me an idea of what my pace was, but I know pacers sometimes start out too quickly. I passed him, hoping I could be under 1:45 but still running what FELT like half marathon effort. We ran through some neighborhoods, and residents were outside their homes cheering. That was a really nice touch.
Around Mile 4, I caught up with a guy wearing a red shirt and blue compression socks. It was a very windy morning, so I ran just behind him. He asked if I wanted to pass, and I said no. At the mile marker, Red Shirt turned to a guy wearing a blue shirt and said “We’re right on pace, 7:30”, then explained to me that they were training for a marathon and using this as a marathon paced workout, hoping to run 7:30 pace. He also said he recognized me from this blog.
At that moment, I decided to just run the race with these guys and see how long I could hold on. It’s not often I get to run a race with a blog reader, and it was nice having someone to talk to and listen to during the half. I run to socialize and you can’t beat friendships made on the race course!
I kept up with the guys for a few miles, even with the gradual hills. Unfortunately, one guy had a calf cramp and backed off a bit- and I really hope he finished the race and got a good workout in.
I kept my effort level consistent and tried to focus on the mile I was in. The mile markers had inspirational quotes and Bible verses on them, which took my mind off the race. We also had a lot of cheerleaders from FiA and F3 workout groups on the course. Red Shirt felt good in the latter miles and said he was going to speed up a little, so I tried to keep him in sight.
I got closer and closer to the finish line and was happy to start counting down the miles. I passed one man, one female, and inched closer to the lady ahead of me. Although the course had some elevation compared to Charleston, which is pancake flat, I felt prepared for it and none of the hills were bad. It’s a flat course for the midlands, and it’s a PR worthy course.
I never caught up with the lady ahead of me and was a bit confused about which direction to go for the finish, which was about .1 mile around a baseball stadium. Unfortunately, due to my confusion, another lady passed me right as we turned into the stadium. I felt like I had a finish kick but know how much of a klutz I am on non-road surfaces.
I completed the race in 1:39:44, finishing at home plate for my third-fastest half marathon time and first place in my age group. The age group awards were Christmas ornaments, which is perfect for this time of the year and for my running medal Christmas tree.
After the race, I thanked the runners around me for pushing me to run under 1:40. I drank some coffee to warm up and and got a post-race massage from CORA Physical Therapy. I also retrieved my throwaway clothes from the start line.
Shawanna won for the ladies and ran a few extra miles before awards to get 20 miles in for the day. We were still freezing and headed to Flight Deck for post-race food. Since it was Veteran’s Day, Flight Deck offered free meals to veterans- a really nice gesture. A World World II veteran walked in when we were there and everyone clapped for him and thanked him for his service.
Flight Deck is decorated in an airplane/superhero theme, so it’s fun to look around and take pictures.
I had the blue plate special of fried flounder, macaroni and cheese and carrots, along with a Heath bar cookie. Everything was delicious and a great way to refuel and relax before I drove back to Charleston.
While so many races are becoming corporate-owned or cutting back, this one is directed by runners and puts the runners first.
The race director, Jesse Harmon, is a runner who coaches the Run Hard youth team, and the proceeds of the race benefit the kids. I enjoyed the Lexington Half Marathon and would highly recommend it and run it again. The course was well marked with good traffic control, and all of the volunteers and cheerleaders were encouraging and positive.
My Garmin logged 13.24 miles for this course. We had traffic in Miles 9-10, and I didn’t make an effort to run the tangents, so that may account for the extra distance.
7:59, 7:24, 7:47, 7:37, 7:30, 7:26, 7:17, 7:19, 7:30, 7:24, 7:38, 7:39, 7:24, 1:43 (Last .24)
Race Name: Run Hard Lexington Half Marathon, 10K, and 5K
Location: Lexington, SC
Date and Time: November 11, 2017, 7:30 AM
Course: Road, very flat course for the midlands and Lexington. All races were USATF Certified. Numerous water stops, cheering stations, and police directing traffic at each intersection.
Swag: Technical tank top, finisher’s medals for all races.
Post-race Food: Granola bars, bananas, water, coffee (this was popular). No beer.
Weather: 36 degrees, 56% humidity, 7 mph NE wind.