Many serious racers have jokingly told me that racing with music is “cheating” and that “you’re missing out on the true race experience.” My opinions aside, after months of hearing these silly comments I decided to run the Providence Rock and Roll Half Marathon without my music. I hate to admit it, but the peanut gallery may have a point!
Racing without music gave me the opportunity to experience the running community in a whole new light. I felt the other runners’ breath on my back, matched a tough competitor stride for stride miles 5-8, and heard runners give each other kudos during the race! We were competitors, but we were in this together!
The decision to run music-free created an unforgettable race experience as mile after mile I was reminded how much I love being a member of the running community!
The Starting Line
O and I arrived at the starting line a little after 6 AM. After completing the standard pre-race rituals (stretching, warm-up jog and potty break) my fog of anxiety lifted to reveal a remarkable scene. At about 6:30 am the sun began to rise behind the official starting line tower. A smile came to my face as I realized that all seven thousand (walkers and runners) of us were about to take off on a sunrise half-marathon run together. Even though I have raced before, something felt different today. Today, I was truly a part of this crazy/awesome mob of runners. Today I was among friends. And today we were in this together!
Below are some of my thoughts/experiences at each mile:
6:48 pace- Not sure why, but this pace feels manageable. Just go with it.
Why is there a guy dribbling two basketballs and running? Please don’t trip me basketball man!
I quickly get passed by the girl I met in my corral. Zoom! Bye bye Mountain Lakes girl. And you seemed so nice and innocent. Ooh, burn!
[DJ playing Blurred Lines] Can we PLEASE play something original??
5k done in 21:58. Yes! …. Just another 10 miles to go- gross!
A girl passes me by. She is just gliding along. She isn’t breathing heavily- wait- is she even breathing?!? That’s it- there are cyborgs in this race. I give up.
I will crush this hill! I will crush this hill!
We make it to the top and see a young boy holding a sign stating: “You rocked that hill!” Before I could say anything a male runner next to me screams out, “YEA WE DID!! WOOHOO!” I can’t help but notice that he said “we”. Yes, we were in this race together! Even if we did want to crush each other!
As I turn the corner another band reveals itself. The music starts and is instantly recognizable- Jessie’s Girl. I know I should save my breath for the race, but I can’t help myself. I make eye contact with the lead singer, shout “Woohoo” and throw a fist pump into the air!
Seems like my legs just woke up! Let’s go! Pace 6:58. Tough, but doable.
The tall, lean guy in front of me is wearing a black spandex shirt and shorts. If I absolutely have to I will follow this gentleman for another 6 miles. Excuse me sir, will you be my pacer? Maybe that’s why I ran a 6:57 pace mile 6? Curious.
A couple shouts to me, “Nice work, keep it up!” It was short and sweet, but this comment immediately motivated me to keep trudging onward! Thank you strangers!
A woman with an arm cast just passed me. Seriously?!? Your arm is broken and you’re running 7 min splits!?! Good grief. That woman is a BAMF- Don’t let the wounded woman out of your sight!
High school cheerleaders have positioned themselves next to a tunnel to magnify their cheers. Another runner pumps his fist in the air and screams “Whoo-hoo!” to cheer on the cheerleaders! Albeit competitive, these runners know the important parts of the race: to have fun and support each other!
My heart rate goes over 170 for the first time during the race! During the other half my HR was about 175 at mile 2. I don’t think I’m going to collapse… yet. err, at least I hope not. Keep moving forward.
My legs are killing me. I feel the lactic acid rising. They are blocks of lead. Pace is slipping, but hold on! Two more miles- 15 more minutes. I can do 15 more minutes. NEVER STOP RUNNING!
Hold your pace. Hold on for dear life. Keep moving forward. Pass that woman runner! Bam! Passed!
The race route weaves up and down the same road; on my return route I wave at some of the runners on their way out. Holy crap- there is the guy with the two basketballs with the 1:45 pace group. He’s really moving!
Where is the finish line? Where is the finish line? Where is the finish line? THERE IT IS! YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!! PR! YES! Done! No I don’t want a photo, photo-person. I’m going to collapse!! Water! Food!
By the numbers
1:33:45 My official race time and new PR! (1st women ran it in 1:10:50!!!)
7:09 Average pace per mile (fastest mile 1, 6:48; slowest mile 13, 7:19- ouch!)
24th Out of 2582 women
6th Out of 487 women in my age group
Running is something I truly love. It makes me feel calm, strong and capable.
Racing, however, is new to me and brings a healthy amount of anxiety to my life. Racing is a way in which I challenge myself to put all my cards out there on the table. To push my body to its limits is a humbling experience. It is exhilarating and terrifying to hold nothing back and see what you are capable of. Racing shows me how far I’ve come while also giving me new goals for the future!
Once again, racing solidified my love for running and being a member of the running community. Mile after mile I was inspired by other runners not only were competitive runners, but also were clearly having fun supporting other runners WHILE RACING! Runners are the best!
To Infinity and Beyond!
While I would love to break the 1:30 barrier (6:51 pace) on a half marathon, my first goal is to break 7 minute splits. The time to beat at my next half (race TBD) will be a 1:31:45. In order to accomplish this I will have to take over 10 seconds off of each mile time (whoa!), but you have to have goals- right? #NeverStopRunning