Getting the recap out of the way, 'cause it's a crazy week and I want to move on to other things.
Good news: I had a good strategy and executed it well.
Bad news: The course/event was poorly organized and in the end I don't trust the results. (Won't go into a lot of details but I think the course was short based on my Garmin and the reports of others around me. Or if not short then something went wrong with all the turns out there. Plus lots of other little things.)
Lesson learned: Stick to events I know will be well organized (Fleet Feet or the major Chicago races or word of mouth) or if I'm doing it just for fun.
It was a beautiful day. It was close enough to walk to so by the time I got there I was completely warmed up and ready to go. I took the first third conservatively, eased up to goal pace for the middle third, and then went faster in the last third, especially in the last mile and again in the last quarter mile. I felt good but definitely left it all on the course, which also felt good. Their results aside, I shaved at least a couple of minutes off my previous half. I used my race vest with bladder and felt like I was getting adequate nutrition/hydration throughout. My plan of walk breaks every mile seemed to help with the heat - I definitely got hot but never felt close to overheating, and was able to skip a couple of the walk breaks towards the end.
I wanted to report on something I experienced at the end of the race, in the last third. I worked those first nine miles, I felt very conscious of the effort I was putting out there to move up to pace and then try to stay at pace. And of wanting to slow down and not doing it. (Except mile 8, I seem to always slow down in mile 8. Plus I needed to retie my shoes, which I never need to do. Three times to get it right!)
And then I hit the ninth mile and started to fly. It just felt... effortless. Beautiful. Heavenly. Wow.
I walked the two miles home which meant a total of 17 miles on my feet that morning, which makes me just that little more confident about the marathon now only 8 1/2 weeks away. But only a little bit. Mostly I think, am I crazy? Or wish that I could properly race it instead of enduring it, but I'm not that good and am not willing to put in the effort to become that good, I've got other things I'm working on.
So why do another marathon?
I guess, as someone in my online running group wrote, for the adventure of it.
And maybe, just maybe, another taste of that wow.