Friday afternoon I was sitting at my desk and thinking to myself “Now I remember why I don’t race for time. Maybe/hopefully it will be worth the goal setting, but for now I just wish we had no expectations of time. I like the only expectation being having fun with my friends.” I was legit feeling so nervous. I had not had pre-race nerves since the New York City Marathon back in 2015. It was such a weird feeling and I had completely forgotten what it felt like to experience pre-race nerves. It didn’t last long but I was still wondering in the back of my mind how I would actually do, being that we were racing for time.
The Expo was small. I’m not complaining because it made picking up our bibs super quick and easy, but there were not very many vendors there at all. Again, it was fine for me but we were running with two out-of-towners (and this race draws a lot of people from other states) so it would have been nice to see a little bit more of Greenville’s running community out and about. Otherwise, packet pickup was seamless and I love the t-shirts they gave. They are a tri-blend (much like the ones from two years ago) and are just the most comfortable ever!
There really is not a whole lot to this course. The race starts in downtown Travelers Rest and does about a 3 mile loop out and back before getting on the Swamp Rabbit Trail around mile 3.5. The next 9.5 miles are down the trail towards Downtown Greenville. I do not normally run on the Swamp Rabbit Trail. I have a route that I enjoy doing where I go from Furman to Downtown Travelers Rest, but as far as the parts of the trail towards Downtown Greenville…well, I find them rather boring. However, in a race setting it’s much better. Having the route full of runners definitely makes it more bearable.
The course is not supported great due to it’s location. Especially since cross roads are blocked off for the runners to continue on the trail, it is hard for supporters to get a good viewing spot. The start line and the finish line, however, were packed with spectators and support. The weather was ideal at the start. I did not need to wear a jacket and was more than comfortable. Unfortunately, I knew that would mean I could get warm by the end of the race. And I did. Luckily we missed any rain coming in, but the sun was out in full force and in our faces most of the time. There was a breeze but compared to two years ago when it was 20 degrees, this race got a little warm.
Around mile 4 we latched on to the 2:07 pace group (running at a 9:40 pace). This was a little slower that we wanted our average pace to be, but we had started strong and knew that if we stuck with him for a few miles, we could then pass and reach our goal. It turned out to be a great decision. Not only was the pacer a cool guy and kept us chatting for about 45 minutes, he was encouraging. When we latched on we had told him that our goal was to go with him until about mile 9 and then push through. Around 8, however, he told us that we were going so strong and to pick it up. We did and we continued on at our goal pace.
I was disappointed with the finish line photos. I guess the camera(s) were only on one side at the finish and I unfortunately was on the opposite side. Y’all know how much I live for a race photo.
The upside: WE PR’d!!!!! (By we I mean Adam and I.) We had started strong and about 2 miles in my dad said to us “I’m going to pace us today. I’m going to get us there.” Normally I am a master pacer and don’t mind doing it, but I needed him Saturday. I knew it could be a struggle to reach my goal and I needed him to keep me in line. He knows how to push me to my limits, but keep me to where I won’t burn out. By mile 11 I was struggling. My legs were tired and though I wasn’t having a ton of breathing issues, I just knew I had to dig deep to keep at my pace and hit my goal. Adam was so strong at the end and I was proud of him. He probably could have scooted ahead of me but he stayed back so we could all finish together.
We crossed the finish line at 2:04:30… 30 seconds ahead of our 2:05 goal and 9 minutes ahead of our previous PR. Our average pace was 9:24. Wow. I told myself Friday that I would have been extremely happy with a 2:05, not really knowing if it was possible or not. I had never run 13 miles at a 9:30 pace before. I didn’t know yet if I was trained to do it. Mentally or physically. I also know that for me, running flats is ten times harder than hills. I have learned to utilize hills to my advantage and the Swamp Rabbit Trail, though listed as negative elevation from Travelers Rest to Greenville, has mile long slogs with no real reprieve at the end. It was hard and when I crossed the finish line I immediately sat on the ground to rest. But, we had done it. We had hit our goal and we had instantly gained so much motivation to keep going and keep getting better.
The post-race was great. They had sodas, water, juice, pizza and a ton of snacks. It was really anything that you could want after finishing 13.1 miles. We received our medals instantly and we united with mine and Adam’s moms who were waiting for us at the finish line.
This race was hard for me. I never thought that I would have to walk or quit, but for maybe the first time, I felt like I was literally giving everything I had. In terms of distance and pace, it was probably the best run I’ve ever had, which makes me feel good considering I said that two weeks ago about the Green Valley 10 Mile Road Race. We didn’t have perfect negative splits, but we were so consistent the entire run. Since finishing the race, Adam has talked so much about continuing to train and get better and race together. This half marathon I think motivated him so much. Though I will take fun over time any day of the week, I think all runners that are at the point where we are have an unwritten goal of a sub-2 half. This past weekend we realized how close we are. Sure it’s still a lot of work and dedication ahead to achieve that goal, but we are close. And that amazing goal is within reach.
What I Wore:
Nike Shorts (5″ inseam) / Nike Dri Fit Tank / Under Armour Socks / Sports Bra
Pearl Izumi E M3 Running Shoe / Visor