I remembered the Raleigh (Holiday) Half Marathon being mostly flat from last year, but this year, thanks to the unseasonable heat and humidity, I felt I was running on a different course. I started confident and full of energy, anticipating a strong performance with my recent consistency. Just a couple of miles in, a young lady, whether intentionally or not, came up and stayed almost shoulder to shoulder with me for the following five miles, after which she no longer kept up and had me worry if she inadvertently pushed too hard too early. I too began slowing down around here, going from a mid-eight-minute-mile pace to wondering if I could even finish under two hours. In retrospect, I should have hydrated more regularly. Approaching the second-to-last aid station just over two miles to go, I desperately asked for water five or six times, each time more loudly, but the volunteer paid no attention and I missed it, which irritated me in spite of my general gratitude towards all volunteers. The biggest climb of the race that destroyed me last year awaited, and I decided this time to sluggishly jog up to conserve energy rather than going all out and having almost nothing left with over a mile to go like the previous year. I do not know whether this new strategy helped or hurt me in the end, as I was still exhausted.
Based on my COROS, I still managed to finish the half marathon distance in under a couple of hours, except I could not even see the finish line at this point and ended up concluding my race at 13.29 miles, in 2:00:21 officially. I understand there will almost always be discrepancies between the course and the watch, especially considering the tangents, but the distance being off this much really confuses the pace calculation. Regardless, I am grateful for another race and opportunity to connect with humble and disciplined individuals.