Race Recap: Twilight Half Marathon 2016 — Vancouver, WA

To celebrate my and Taylor’s birthdays, a group of us ran at the Twilight Half Marathon on July 9.
Twilight Half MarathonI was pretty nervous leading up to this race because I had never run a long evening race and I was hoping to get a PR. To top off my nerves, my last long training run had been incredibly painful.

On Saturday, I concentrated on fueling and taking it easy. To try to combat the pain, I asked Jason for some of his KT Tape so he could tape my shins.

That decision was a huge factor in my race performance.

Because Taylor, Katie and I were a little nervous about the course time limit (3 hours) and wanted to be able to enjoy the finish line festivities, we took advantage of the optional early start of 5:30 pm.

Jason started the half marathon at the regular 6 pm time and Kelly ran the 10K, which started at 6:15 pm.

The course was nice and flat and the weather was cool. As soon as Taylor, Katie and I took off, I knew I felt good. My shins weren’t hurting at all (bless you, KT tape) and I felt stronger than I had on any of my training runs in a long time.

Just starting out!

Katie told me I was starting out with an under 11-per mile pace, and thank goodness. I was going out way too fast! I slowed down and ran with the others and we kept a really regular pace, just under my goal PR pace.

Just a few miles in, everything fell apart. We were running on a path and following the large group of runners strung out in front of us, we went straight from the path to the road. Amongst ourselves, we questioned this, because it didn’t quite line up with what we thought the course was, but since everything else had been well-marked, we followed the group.

Around mile 4, we found confirmation in the form of a well-marked turn onto the road… a part of the course that we had missed. According to Katie’s running app, our unintentional short-cut took about .5 miles off of our run.

This was incredibly depressing, because it meant our hopes for getting PR were squashed. We might get a PR time, but without a properly measured distance, it wouldn’t be accurate. This was my only chance this year to get a half-marathon PR. All my other major races scheduled are runDisney or the Portland (full) Marathon.

But being depressed only 4 miles in is terrible. I tried to put it out of my mind, even tried to trick myself into believing that I could “fix” the mistake. As we got closer to the turn-around, I still felt fast and strong. I made up my mind that I would at least try for my PR pace. Even if I couldn’t get the time, I would still put in the effort.

After mile 5, I split off from Katie and Taylor. Although they are usually faster than me, I was having an exceptional running day.

Right after the halfway turnaround, Jason passed me going the other direction (having started at 6). His eyes were wide, filled with excitement as he told me that I was “flying” being well under goal pace. I was incredibly happy to spot him, but was once again sad about the shortcut. When he passed me again, I was able to breathlessly explain that we went off-course as he went by.

Then I refocused on keeping fast tempo and following my run timers (minute run/45 sec walk). I turned up my music and kept a smile on my face. Despite everything, I felt so good, I knew I was running a fast pace.

I was thinking of good music, moving forward, the finish line and a post-race party.

I was a little upset again when I came to the part of the course that I had missed earlier, but I shook it off. I was going to run this race regardless!

Near the end, my parents were ringing cowbells and cheering loudly. I sped by them with a grin, and the boost from their cheering took me in sight of the finish line.

The finish line straightaway was deceptively long. Although there was probably less than a half mile less, it was a long haul toward it. I was starting to really fade, but I was knew I was close. No point in slowing down now! I’d already committed to a fast pace despite the shorter distance miles ago!

Can't slow down!

Can’t slow down! (Photo by Gary Kentner)

Before crossing the line, I saw Kelly and Jason cheering for me. I sped up, sprinting across the finish line and barely snagging my owl medal from the volunteer. My in-laws were all there at the finish line, clapping and cheering my finish.

If I had done the full distance, I would have finished right around my PR time. Without the struggle of staying motivated and ignoring the .5 mile shortcut mistake, I know I could have gone a little faster and beaten the time.

So although I’m unhappy about the race, I can’t be unhappy about my performance. This is the reason why I pushed myself. I can’t regret anything I personally did.

Only a few minutes after, I was cheering Taylor and Katie to the finish line. Had we run the full distance, Taylor would also have a PR over his Tinker Bell Half Marathon time.

Better yet, Kelly did get a 10K PR, which is a huge deal as she gears up for the her first half marathon.

Taylor and I certainly earned our birthday cake this year.

Overall, I did have a blast, but my overall impression of the race itself was disappointment.

They ran out of beer, which was a serious bummer for some in the group (especially as they made such a big deal of it), the tank tops were flimsy, terribly-made and not even a nice tech fabric, and we went off course during a race I was really hoping to have a solid PR in. Considering how good I felt, I know I could have finally beat my PR from Vancouver Rock ‘n’ Roll 2014.

I am proud of myself for not letting setbacks affect my race frame of mind. And there were people, cupcakes and presents for a post-race birthday celebration!

Added another bib to my wall at work! It's starting to get a little full...

Added another bib to my wall at work! It’s starting to get a little full…

Distance: 12.6 miles
Time: 2:32:15
Ran With: Taylor and Katie until mile 5, then solo.
New Motto: All hail KT Tape.
Despite a disappointing race, I loved: Molasses cookies. They handed these out to us while we were standing in line for the real food. They were amazing!

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