Seeing how close to my home the Raleigh (Holiday) Half Marathon, this year’s USATF and RRCA State Championship, took place on December 4, 2021, and I would not have to drive for hours as I do for most races, I could not justify opting out and registered only a couple of days prior to the event. Until recently, its course formed a combination of several routes I take when casually running; thus, without the course change last year, I likely would have skipped. I would have preferred colder, but the morning still felt semi-ideal for a 13.1-miler.
I kept my pace consistent and pushed harder whenever I saw my Garmin pace slow down, often catching me off guard because I felt no sign of fatigue. I had forgotten about the short but steep climb that awaited a mile and a half to go, and I adamantly ran the whole section and exerted a significant amount of energy, which impacted the rest of my race; in hindsight, I may have walked this hill. Several runners and I often swapped places, and I continued to encourage them to keep moving and oddly even hoped they would pass me, which rarely happens towards the end of my race because I generally sprint and myself do the passing. Three different participants told me post-race I helped them, indirectly saying they used me as a pacer, which was flattering. I expected to run faster than a 1:56:11 finish, but I am always grateful to be able to experience so many of these challenging events and meet amazing people along the way.