Flashback 1982: I was a 28 year old mediocre runner racing 10Ks almost weekly. I rarely averaged more than 20 miles a week training. But still, I decided to challenge myself by running a Half Marathon.
Too few training miles and 80F temperatures on race day made for a very tough race. I ended up walking a lot at the end and fell way off my planned 8:00 pace. My finishing time was 1:51:30. That works out to about an 8:31 pace.
When I started running regularly and racing again back in 2002, I realized that, since I was naturaly a lot slower than in my younger days, there was little hope of ever breaking any of my old Personal Records. But there was that "soft" Half Marathon PR that just might be doable if I worked hard enough at it.
June 2003 - Sunburst Half Marathon - South Bend, Indiana - Boy, did I try, but a big hill near the end did me in and I missed a PR by 61 seconds. Finishing time 1:52:31. So close!
June 2004 - Another try at the Sunburst. I ran about the same race as in 2003, did much better on the hill, but had no gas left to push the last couple miles. Finishing time 1:52:40.
June 2005 - Sunburst HM again. It was hot! I managed a 1:54:01. Actually, not bad considering the heat. I did better than a lot of my usual age group competition, but was way off a PR.
June 2006 - Sunburst HM again. If I was ever going to do it, this had to be the year! I wasn't getting any younger and the weather forecast looked good - 62F at race start.
It was a slow start - 9:11 for the 1st mile, 8:45 for mile 2, 8:30 for mile 3. I wasn't going to make a PR if I didn't get moving faster. Then, I kept missing the mile markers. They had signs for the Marathoners running the same course, but about mile 4 the courses changed and I kept missing the HM miles painted on the road. I really didn't know how I was doing, but I kept pushing and slowly moved up through the crowd. About half way I asked another runner what pace he was on. He said 8:15s. Dang! I didn't think I was doing that well, but it gave me hope that I had made up for the slow start. Maybe I had a chance to do it!
After I caught on to the HM mile markers, I was able to clock a couple miles OK - an 8:27 and 8:38. That wouldn't do it, but at the 11 mile mark I got an accurate split 1:31:29. I was tired, but I felt like I could push the last mile or so. That PR was within range!
With a mile to go, I cranked it up a notch. We neared the Notre Dame campus and I could already envision myself entering the stadium to the thunderous music of the ND fight song and sprinting across the 50 yard line finish.
I clocked the last 1.1 miles at a 7:55 pace and raised my arms in victory as I crossed the line in 1:48:49. A PR by 2 min 41 sec. WOOO HOOO! :-)