When I participated in the recent half marathon on Labor Day, I already had in mind to follow that up only six days following, on September 13, 2020, with another 13.1-miler in the Tear Drop Half Marathon, where participants take off at the peak of Fort Mountain and descend to Chatsworth City Park. Based on the elevation chart that displays significant downhill running, I assumed the course to be designed for smashing personal records, even though I did not anticipate setting a personal best myself in 80-degree heat; nevertheless, the first four miles that required runners to go down and climb back up rapidly sapped my endurance, in the climbing, as I stubbornly refused to even contemplate a walking break. Just in this early stage opened up an immense gap between those accustomed to intense hills and those not as much. Once I overcame this hurdle, the next seven miles led a steep drop to town, where I quickly recovered from the earlier exhausting miles and let gravity take over while hoping my joints stayed sturdy enough to maintain the rapid speed increase. Made aware of another major hike toward the end by a veteran ultrarunner I know who has run this race in the past, I anxiously waited until I came face-to-face with this giant with nearly a mile to go. While some walked, I kept my head down and carried on running, knowing the finish nigh.
I did not consider sub-2:00:00 a challenge and hoped to come relatively close to my PR, but I from the beginning, with the slower earlier miles from the lengthy climb, recognized the latter would be verging on impossible. I am semi-content with a 1:57:00.6 finish, albeit slightly upset about missing the 1:56 mark by that tiny of a margin. I acknowledge I may have lost a bit of my shorter-distance speed, but I also feel like blaming this on the summer heat and certainly tougher terrains than when I regularly raced in the Midwest. In the midst of these COVID-19 restrictions, I thank God I can continue to pursue at least one activity about which I am passionate.