Shark Bite Half Marathon: Bite or Get Bitten

 

NSB SHARK

“I ran my fastest marathon in the rain.”

~ Bill Rodgers ~

The rat-race is trying to get the best of me; therefore, my apologies for posting this article two weeks after the race. And without further ado, let me start by sharing: it’s a PR for me!

I registered for the inaugural New Smyrna Beach Shark Bite Half Marathon back in September. A $10 discount promotion was irresistible, I mean, how can anyone pass a $35 deal to run a half marathon? So here I go, scheduled to run half marathon #6 only six weeks after I ran the Orlando OUC. I usually tend to give myself at least eight weeks within a race, but I guess that I wanted to bite this one. The interesting part of this process is that I put zero stress on performance.

A race in January is expected, or at least, hoped for a cooler weather. However, I didn’t expect to wake up at 3:30 a.m. with the sound of thunders and violent wind gust. I got up and immediately went to the patio to find out if what I thought I heard was really true. Sure enough, it was a massive pouring down rain and strong wind.

NSB 1

Really?!

I casually walked back inside and started my pre-race routine. I checked the weather map to see if the rain would be over soon, but it didn’t look to be the case. By the time I was ready to go and Kurt was fully awake and dressed, I checked my e-mail one more time to only find out that the race had been postponed until 9:30 a.m. I felt a bit relived, but at the same time my psych and body was not so prepared for the sudden change. Back to bed for a quick nap I went only to get up and do the same pre-race routine all over again. At least the radar looked better!

NSB 2

The sky cleared and the race went on, but the wind was still strong and dark clouds were quickly heading our way. At the 1.63-miler, the rain started. Oh shit! The 24 mph WNW wind made the rain drops feel like flying debris on my face. At one point, the wind literally drifted my 106 lbs. frame to my right and I was forced to walk to regain balance. Coulda Woulda Shoulda thoughts were running through my head as I looked at a pack of runners not even 3 tenths of a mile in front of me; wishing I was with them to shield me from the brutal wind at that moment. At least the rain didn’t last long; it was long enough to test my mental toughness and to soak me from head to toe.

Once the rain was gone, I was able to focus on pace. My 5K pace was actually not-too-shabby at 10:02 with 29:59 into the race. I felt strong and determined, but I knew not to be too “happy” as I usually tend to start strong and run out of energy in the last 3 miles of a race. However, the 64°F weather gave me enough confidence to push for a possible PR. I focused on my mantra and on the feel good response my muscles, joints, and bones were giving me. I noticed two strong runners ahead of me who had excellent form and a steady-fast pace. I target them as my pace leaders, and to avoid being kind of creepy, I introduced myself and asked if it was okay to shadow them throughout the race. It was no problem!

At mile 5.40, I felt I could push my pace as they stayed a little behind. I’m glad I did it because at the 6.80-miler, came a runner’s favorite obstacle: a bridge. My pace went all the way up to 12:02 (but I never stopped running) and my heart rate was at 180 bpm. The wind gust was just ridiculous. I even placed my hand on the bib, pressing against my abs to assure that somehow the safety pins wouldn’t get unpinned and blow my bid with my timer away.

My “pace leaders” calmly passed me midway through the bridge and politely said: “hey!” and I replied with an exhausting and out-of-breath Hi!  But that’s okay. I know that I must do more hill and track workout. I burst my energy going downhill at a best pace of 8:38 taking full advantage of gravity while tuning into my body and using proper form. Before I knew it, I was running right by their side and she surprisingly said: you caught up with us!  I was running in runner’s high with an incredible pace of 9:32 and 1:18:45 into the race as I completed mile 8. This is the best I ever felt – no discomfort, fast, happy and hungry for a PR.

At the 9-miler, my “pace leaders” were slowing down their pace. I continued ahead, but running against the wind for all this distance and time was starting taking a toll on me. It felt like I was running with a resistance band placed on my waist while pulling a 70 lbs dumbell as I tried to run. Runners were already returning from their turn-around, but all I could think was: where is the damn turn-around?  It was the longest 1.84 mile stretch I experienced, raising my pace to 10:05. After passing the turn-around at the 10.84-miler, I was all cheers and the wind was behind me. I kept looking at MAsshole for my stats and it felt good to be at 2:06 ahead of my virtual partner pace of 10:00.

The jolt of energy and mind-set of get it done was all I needed to record a negative split – 9:48 pace for mile 11, 9:24 for mile 12 and 9:23 for the remainder of 13.1. I crossed the finished line with a 2:08:25 time, 33rd of 102 in my category/age group and 303 overall of 791 runners.

NSB Half

Once again, Kurt helped as my assistant! So glad to have him cheering and supporting me on my races.

What I learned from this race? Believe in your training, choose what you want, smile and be kind to yourself. It might sound cliché, but running (or any other sports) becomes a compilation of all small things an athlete does. Today was the day to receive the result of doing those small things.

“You have a choice. You can throw in the towel, or you can use it to wipe the sweat off of your face.”

~ Gatorade ~

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