I seem to have developed an affinity for getting to know a course in advance by camping out alongside it. You know… it’s yielded some pretty solid results too. Today was another of those. After laying my weary head just off the course for the night, I woke pre-bright and early to head to the start. I was excited for this race. I was feeling good, and ready to end what had been a really, really rough year. But I wasn’t going out with a whimper. I was going out in style. Life has been kicking me around a lot recently, it was time for me to have my say.
The Delray Beach Half Marathon is a small race put on by the folks at Bad Ass Running. Race size is capped somewhere around 100, so this race does sell out. I love that the smaller events tend to attract people who are passionate about the sport, and the community. In some ways that makes it more appealing to me than highly commercial events. It’s a great, small event with some pretty awesome people. I wouldn’t hesitate to run it again. There were nice shirts and medals, standard post race chow options and enough volunteers to make sure everything went smoothly. This race does occur entirely on the sidewalk, and although runners are going in both directions at some points, it’s actually not an issue. With the low cap of overall runners, and a staggered multi-wave start, the field spreads out enough that you aren’t tripping over each other.
I was in the second wave, and very quickly distanced myself from the rest of the group. I felt good today. My back hurt, but it wasn’t nearly as crippling as usual. I was going to run with it. Forget the clock, I wasn’t touching my phone. I was running solely on feel. On what felt right. My body knows what its capable of on any given day far better than any technology does. So I ran, and I ran fast. Within a couple of miles, I was passing many of the runners from the first wave. There’s a bit of a boost when you pass someone, and I took advantage of that to keep fueling me through this course. I made it a goal to see if I could catch ALL of the runners from the first wave. I had no idea how fast they were running, so that just meant I had to run super fast myself. As the miles ticked by I had fewer and fewer targets ahead to pick off. I knew how many there were… I had counted at the first turn around. Before I knew it there was only one ahead of me! Since he’d had nearly a ten minute head start and was running at a solid clip, I knew the chances of catching him were slim. But that didn’t mean I wasn’t going to try.
I kept going, one foot in front of the other – at exactly the pace my body wanted to go. I was feeling good. Winning this race, on New Years Eve, would be a pretty epic middle finger to 2017. This would be the last thing I did for the year. I was going to make it count. I’ve dealt with plenty of pain and discomfort these past few years. No way I was going to let it get in the way of me being me. I was running, and damn it, today I was winning.
In the end I didn’t catch him, although I did finish nearly four minutes faster. I’ve won a race in the past with the second fastest time, so I wasn’t sure how this was supposed to work. Per USA T&F rules, the overall winners are determined by gun time, while the age group awards are by chip time. It makes sense if you think about it, but how would that apply when my gun time was different than the gun time of the first guy across the finish line? If it was my choice, I’d have left the decision up to the first finisher. If I were in his shoes, I’d want the overall win if I knew I could have beaten the other guy, while if I knew the other guy was just flat out better that day I’d acquiesce the second place finish. It was out of my control. I’d already done my part and quite frankly wasn’t too concerned about the official title of winner. I did MY best, and I was quite happy with it.
So of course my day wasn’t yet over. I talk about the running community all the time. I’m proud to be a part of it. My race was over, now I had plenty of time to go and cheer on the rest of the crew! I made some great new friends at the finish line and once again, I stayed to the very end. We all had a great run to celebrate! In the end the discussion of who won was a moot point. We both won the same prize – bluetooth speakers.
I was pumped with how I ran today, and yes winning a half marathon was a great way to kick 2017 into the rearview mirror. Life did have to get its own little laugh in though – awarding me a bluetooth speaker for my efforts. Shame I can’t use it with my ongoing brain issues. Haha very funny life. Don’t worry… I’ll continue to heal and eventually I will be able to not only use that prize, but win others. Peace out 2017, I’m ready for a great 2018!