When it's 30 degrees and 5 am, it's pretty tempting to crawl back into bed and skip out on a race. But, luckily I had someone to join in on the “fun-orture” (as she called it). Heather Tanner was waiting for me at the Walnut Creek Marriot and we were both hoping for a good workout. So, I met her in my eighty layers and we ran the three miles to the starting line as a warm-up. The starting line felt a heck of a lot colder and I was tempted to keep my two long sleeve shirts and pants on. But, I stripped down, shivering, and goose-bumped covered (I know I grew-up in Northern Michigan, but dang, cold weather is hard to motivate in!).
Heather and I headed out at a comfortable pace and it took me a good 5 miles to feel my fingers. I just followed Heather, having a few temptations every now and then to stop, but the cold weather worked as a deterrent. After getting through the first few miles, I felt a good groove. I was surprised by the mile plus climb that lead us from mile 5 upwards. I had to laugh as I had told Heather earlier that morning that it looked like a super mellow climb --- for a road race, no, but for a trail race, yes. I know both of us were starting to wonder when it would stop climbing. Finally at the turn around, I caught up to Heather. She informed me that we had run a 7:40 and now were on pace for a 5:40. That’s quite a swing in mile splits for a road half-marathon!
The cold air was pretty brutal and I still feel like my lungs are recovering. Heather and I stayed side by side until mile 10ish and then we stayed within a few strides. It was the first half-marathon where I finished and felt content. It didn’t feel hard, it didn’t feel stressful --- it was actually fun. I finished in 1:23:40, my slowest road half-marathon to date (but based on results, looks like the climbing added about 4 minutes to times --- so I am bound for 1:19s!), and Heather was right behind in 1:23:52 (results). Heather and I agreed that it was our best pre-trials workout to date. After a quick hug at the finish, we loaded the layers back on and resumed running while chatting about life.
The Walnut Creek Half Marathon was a confidence booster. It was great to be out on the pavement, stress free, and physically strong and healthy. I could have used another 10 degrees, but I am incredibly grateful to have friends like Heather to remind me why I like to run, a foot that has stopped being a pain in the arse, and a warm hat and arm sleeves.