BDR Safety Harbor Half Marathon
Wow. The best weather I've ever had for a race. Low 50s, crisp air, minimal humidity, light breeze, and cloud cover. Unbelievable. If it wasn't for yesterday, I'd have been over the moon as to what I could achieve. You don't understand- the chances of weather like this in Florida are quite literally 1 in 100 and only occur in January/February.
Goal- to stay with the leaders and then race them hard the last 2 miles. However, with the weather I had changed my mindset to shooting for a sub 1:12 (really anything under my previous PR of 1:12:33 I would have been happy.) Even on tired legs, I thought this would be pretty doable.
The course- brand new and recertified, so I guess I retire the previous course with the course record. This one was much more challenging however. Multiple hillier sections and two passes over a highway bridge as well as an odd boardwalk section made it an uneven effort. I found myself having to pay attention a lot more than yesterday, where both courses are pancakes. Still, the hills are nothing compared to other races in my honest opinion, so I'm just being a whiny Floridian.
The race: Immediately I was out in front with no one contending. I felt sore from the two races yesterday, but the pace felt so easy that I just decided to find a state of flow and lock in. Even splits didn't matter to me, anything under 5:29/mile was cool in my book.
I absolutely was loving it. By the mile 3 turnaround I was able to see I had a full minute lead, so I was just cruising and enjoying it. Lots of smiling and thanking volunteers/spectators. It was cool to feel that in control.
At the halfway point, I knew 1:12 was a done deal, so I changed my thought process into sub 1:11. I knew a negative split would need to be in order, but I hadn't pushed at all yet, and maintaining/speeding up was still manageable.
The new hill/bridge/boardwalk section was tough, but I had plenty in the tank. I maintained the pace through this section which was a bit surprising and with about 1.5 miles left I thought it was time to start pushing. I knew I was on pace for about a 1:11:00 flat, so I really wanted to drop it under that mark. How cool- a 1:10 half marathon?! I never would have dreamed it nine years ago. I certainly wouldn't have a day after hard racing.
I was gliding and felt smooth. I even watched a couple of videos from spectators and friends, and it's funny- it looks almost as if I am running slow. Obviously that's not slow, but it looked like (in the video) I should be trying a lot harder! I guess that's not conducive to good racing- relaxing is- but it was just surprising to see second hand.
I crossed the finish line/tape and couldn't help but smile! Not only was I fortunate enough to take 1st overall, but I did it in all 3 races, racked up 2 Personal records, 2 course records, and just an overall sense of accomplishment I cannot truly describe. I don't think it hit me yet. These aren't huge races or anything- 2,000 people max- but it's still pretty cool. Sometimes, you just know something will be a memory forever, and this is definitely going to be. No one can take this weekend away from me- the one nice thing about the internet I suppose. And most importantly, I was in the moment so often this weekend that it was truly exhilerating.
Splits- 5:25, 5:26, 5:23, 5:19, 5:27, 5:24, 5:28, 5:25, 5:27, 5:26, 5:22, 5:21, 5:17, 0:24