Short version: 2:39:56, a huge (unofficial) half marathon PR, and my left foot sabotaged me.
When I joined this training group this winter, I was intending to draw out the training to make sure I was really well prepared for a trail half in July. After a particularly perfect (yes, particularly perfect) 10-mile run several weeks ago, my friend L talked me into signing up for the Riverbank Run 25k. I'd never done such a long race and it meant training harder than I had intended for the winter, but she said I could stay with her and another friend H and ride over to Grand Rapids with them. I thought for a couple days, and signed up. Training went really well - besides that first 10, I've done one 12, one 14, and one 14.5, and an additional 10. So, I thought I'd be pretty well prepared. Unfortunately, after not having a single twinge all through training, my left foot started bothering me on Monday. I wore Chacos with a toe loop that day, and about half way through the day the extensor tendon for my big toe (extensor hallicus longus, for the nerds in the group) started to hurt. I cursed my sandals and figured it was tendinitis, and basically sat on my butt with ice on my foot all week long.
So, as I was saying. I had a TON of fun with our pre-race activities. Expo, really good dinner, good conversation - just right. H was out right away, L wasn't awake much longer. I, on the other hand, was awake for hours upon hours. I spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to decide which pace group I was going to run with (and still hadn't decided an hour before the race). And, sometime around 1 AM, convinced myself that my foot pain was a stress fracture, rather than plain old tendinitis. Sometime after 1 I finally managed to fall asleep, only to wake around 3 when the race crew started setting up outside and making a lot of noise doing it (and we were on the 4th floor!) I slept off and on after that, and we finally all woke up at 6.
Our friend R arrived shortly after 7 and M (surprise!) came by sometime after that. We all chatted for a while, and then finally headed outside a few minutes before the start. I've gotta say - staying in the hotel that's literally right at the starting line is fantastic. And it doesn't really matter when you don't get to your corral on time because it takes forever for the whole pack to actually cross the line, so you get a chance to jump in. Considering how type A I am I think I did a pretty good job not stressing over getting into the corral, but then I was freaking out over my foot and running my longest race (and longest run, by 0.5) ever. R and I had discovered we were hoping to run about the same pace, so we agreed to stay together unless one of us was just really suffering.
There was a traffic jam at the start and I think that was a good thing - it kept us from going out so ridiculously fast. We actually had to stop once when the crowd slowed to a walk, but by the first quarter or so we were actually moving. The first two miles I was really worried about my foot. From the very first step it did not feel good. R told me to give it a shot and see if it loosened up and sometime in the second mile it finally did. I went back and forth with this through the whole race, one mile thinking I was fine and then the next thinking I was going to have to drop out. The first 6+ miles were pretty flat, mostly along the riverbank, and pretty scenic when we weren't just staring at the backs of other runners. Things got tougher at the turn around when the hills appeared, and we came out of the trees and were more open to the wind.
I felt awesome until about mile 10. No surprise really because that seems to be where I always start to lose it. At that time my foot was getting progressively worse, maybe because of the hills, and my head started getting me. Sometime before mile 11 (I think) I decided I was absolutely going to have to walk the hill, so I told R she should go ahead if she was feeling good. I kept her in my sights off and on after that, but never caught up to her again. Miles 11-13 just flat out sucked, and then I got sort of a second wind after 13 (and after seeing that I busted my half marathon PR by about 20 minutes). For some unknown reason I got all emotional somewhere before the 14 mile point and had to walk for a block or so because choking back sobs was making it a bit tricky to breathe. I got past that, and did ok for the last couple miles.
Once we got back into the city I was so excited because we had to be almost there, and then I saw the YMCA I had commented on when we got into town and thought I was closer to the finish than I actually was. The last mile or so was the coldest of the entire race - the wind just whipped through the buildings and it started to rain. The strong winds made the rain fall horizontally, and for at least a block the wind was just straight on. I've never been so happy to turn a corner!
I kept splits the whole time but managed to erase them from my watch before I wrote them down, so I don't have that. The first 10 averaged right around a 10 min pace, 11-13 were slower and sucky, and then I got back down around 10:15 or so for the last 2.5 miles. Chip time was 2:39:56 (10:18 pace), only 6 min off my half marathon PR.
Overall I'm really happy with the day. Without the foot pain I really think I could have managed a 10-minute pace for the whole thing, and even with the pain I wasn't too far off. Hopefully my foot just needs some rest and babying, and I can run a good half this summer.
Thanks for reading!