I had a tough week leading up to the Centerpoint Half. I debated skipping the race entirely, but I didn't for two reasons. Number one I paid $80 bucks in registration fees. That's pretty steep for a small town race, but it's the price you pay when you miss the early bird specials. Reason number two is pretty silly really, but I'm a numbers gal. If dates have any significance I feel like it's going to be a good race. This race would be my 13th half marathon, two years and two months after my first half marathon on February 2nd, 2014. Get it? Two years, two months later (February 2nd, 2/2). I know it's ridiculous.
I debated running this half the past two years, but it never worked out with my schedule. I heard great things about the overall race organization and course. I knew several people who ran PR's on this course. I doubted that I would beat my current sub 2:00 PR, but I was hopeful that I could run my best time of the year.
That was until race week began with what I believe to be food poisoning. I woke up with both vomiting and diarrhea late Sunday night and it lasted well into Monday morning. I had to call in to work and I had nothing planned for a sub. Thank God for my paraprofessionals! I don't know what I would do without them. Once my stomach settled, I was able to rest the remainder of the day on Monday.
The stomach bug was nothing compared to the news I was confronted with when I returned to school on Tuesday. One of my students had fallen critically ill over the weekend. She had stopped breathing and she was air lifted to Children's Hospital in Birmingham. She passed sometime later Tuesday night. She was just six years old. She was first introduced to me by her nickname "Precious". I couldn't think of a more appropriate name for her. She was the first person I saw every morning. I could hear her squeals and contagious laugh from the parking lot. She always greeted me with a smile and extended her arm for a hug every morning. She greeted most everyone the same way. She was a happy, fun, loving child. Although our time together was brief, I will always cherish the memories I have of Precious. She touched many lives including my own.
I couldn't bring myself to run the remainder of the week. How could I do something that brought me so much joy when all I felt was emptiness and sadness? I didn't think I should race on Saturday for that same reason. Then I realized Precious wouldn't want me to go on mourning her death. She would want me to celebrate her life and continue to do the things that make me happy. I decided to go on and run the race as planned.
I picked up my packet on Friday night before race day. Good thing because I would have felt rushed otherwise. There was limited parking at the YMCA where the race began. Overflow parking was available at a church and neighborhoods nearby. There were only three porta potties that I noticed and the lines were pretty long just thirty minutes from the start of the race. There may have been other porta potties elsewhere, but I didn't want to risk my spot in line to search for them.
While I was in line the song, "I Can Only Imagine" by Mercy Me began playing. This song came out around the same time that my brother passed away. Since then, I cannot listen to it without crying. I thought of Raymond, but I also couldn't help but think of Precious. I had a huge lump in my throat and my eyes began to water. I tried to drown out the song by listening to some other runners discuss the course. I felt like they were staring at me and I wondered what they must be thinking. Luckily, a porta potty opened up just in time to escape the awkwardness.
With about ten minutes to spare, I met up with some friends Valerie (icecreamrunner), Dee, and Holly (HoHo Runs) at the start line. I felt much better chatting with them. The race directors went over the course and said a short prayer, then we were off. It rained the night before the race and there were large puddles near the start/finish line. I tried my best to dodge them, but I had to go through some of them because of the crowd.
I settled into what felt like an easy pace in the 9:00 min/mile range. Holly and I were pacing together. We chatted some, but we both agreed that we struggled to hold conversation while running. It was just nice to have someone to push me. I was pacing better than I anticipated after such a rough week. I started to think maybe this could be my best half of the year after all.
Mile 1- 9:47
Mile 2- 9:48
Mile 3- 9:30
Mile 4- 9:29
Mile 5- 9:28
Mile 6- 9:32
I ate some Honey Stinger chews at the halfway point. I tried them on my last half and actually liked them better than the waffles because they didn't leave my mouth feeling so dry. I slowed down while I ate my chews and walked for the first time in the race. I lost track of Holly sometime during the break. She was completely out of sight by the time I started running again. I couldn't speed up to catch her no matter how hard I tried.
Mile 7- 10:30
Mile 8- 9:45
Mile 9- 10:01
Mile 10- 10:07
I had only a 5K remaining when the wheels came off. My knees started aching after my first walk break and the pain intensified with each mile that followed. By Mile 11, it hurt to walk much less run. I stopped and stretched, but it didn't seem to help. It was the same pain I felt at the Sea Turtle Half Marathon in February. I hadn't experienced any knee pain since that race. I thought maybe poor hydration the week before might explain some of my pain. I also thought the course was a bit windy. Almost the entire course looped through residential neighborhoods. I lost count of the endless turns. There was one steep downhill followed by an uphill climb in the beginning miles, but the course was mostly flat. The course map will give you some idea of the number of turns.
I gave up both mentally and physically. In the final miles, it was all about just finishing the race. I was no longer concerned about my time. The cheer stations and other runners on the course did their best to cheer me on and motivate me. I love the camaraderie that I experience at the races. I couldn't push any harder if I tried, but at least they lifted my spirits some. The final mile looped through a park and came out around the YMCA entrance. I was so happy to see that finish line.
Mile 11- 11:24
Mile 12- 12:04
Mile 13- 11:37
My official time was 2:13:53. As much as I wanted to do better, I thought it was cool that I got a time of 2:13 on my 13th half. There I go with the numbers again.
After the race, I met up with my friends Holly, Valerie, and Dee. Holly had a strong race and finished way ahead of me. I wish I could have kept pace with her the entire race. Valerie had an awesome time and placed in her age group.
Holly, me, and Valerie
Dee had a great race and ran a new course PR.
There wasn't much post race food or festivities. I didn't really expect there to be with a small town race. There was an adequate amount of muffins, bagels, crackers, and fruit for refueling. I chatted with Holly and Valerie for a short time afterwards before heading home.
Overall, I was glad that I did this race. It's a nice small town half marathon to support missions for Centerpoint Church. I was pleased with the overall race organization and course support. Some people had timing issues which occur every year with this race. I would definitely recommend wearing a GPS watch or using an app to prove your time in case it didn't register. Luckily, I didn't have any issues. It wouldn't matter for AG placement, but I'd hate to know I just ran 13.1 miles and my time didn't register. The tech shirts and medals for this race were nice quality and design. I would definitely run this race again.