We can just call this one the one where I got hit by a car, and we can call it a day!
OK, so maybe its not that simple, but I did get hit by a car during this race.
Let me start by saying that this was the 3rd time I had run this half marathon. I ran it the first year with a friend, I ran it the second time solo with an attempt to PR, so when I registered for the race I knew that I would achieve that illusive PR on the third time. After all, third time's a charm, right?
And I probably would have reached that goal had I not gotten hit by a car, seriously. Or maybe it wasn't the actual getting hit by a car that slowed me down, so much as the fallout and the reporting that was required and almost getting pulled from the course a number of times after the incident. But I'm getting ahead of myself here. Maybe I should start at the beginning...
After the Gasparilla Challenge in late February, I had a few weeks off from running races. Husbeast and I took a small vacation, we had some quality quiet time on the weekend (something that we never get during running season because I am always off in one place or another), and we just enjoyed being together. I took a break from long distances, and focused on shorter distance runs, but more often... afterall, I had decided that I would be running my first Ultra Marathon with my friend Mel the week after the coral springs race. Essentially that meant that the Coral Springs half marathon was my last long training run before my 50K the following week, so although initially when I registered for this race, I had wanted to PR, I knew that if I was being honest, that just wasn't in the cards.
But after about a mile and a half, my body limbered up a little bit. I started itching to increase my speed. I think this is the first time I started putting 2 and 2 together that if I started almost unreasonably slow pace-wise I could increase my speed significantly and make up time as the race went on. I almost didn't believe my eyes when I saw it happen the week before at Gasparilla with Mel... but this race was feeling like a repeat. My pace was increasing without much work on my part, my energy levels were up, I felt strong and capable. And soon, by mile 5 I realized that I was running at a faster pace than I had ever run before, and I wasn't even feeling slightly fatigued!
I like this course because although it is not entirely closed, the runners run a large loop and are given at least 1 full lane of traffic along the course. On top of that, the cones protecting the runners from the traffic are closely spaced, there is a really strong police presence, and the support is spectacular. This is by far one of my favorite races because the support is so great, obviously I must love it to repeat it 3 years in a row, right? But there is a spot on the course where there is not a lot of support, and the officers are a bit more spaced out. This is somewhere between mile 7-9. Instead of being in a more suburban commercial area, the course sprawls out through a residential area flanked on both sides by gated community after gated community. And this was where I ran into problems with traffic.
Don't get me wrong. I am acutely aware of just how lucky I was that morning. I was lucky because I felt a brief warm breeze coming off the engine of her car as she pulled up behind me. I turned to check my surroundings over my left shoulder as I was lifting my weight off my left foot. Had my weight been disbursed more evenly, or had I been at a different place in my stride, the damage could have been devastating. But I was lucky. Her bumper hit the back of my left knee as it was mid-bend. I tripped a little and fell forward and out of the way. I was lucky to have seen her.
And although she broke into a restricted lane, she raised her arms up and screamed at me as if I was in the wrong. I regained my footing and kept plugging along as she decided whether she would stop to get out of the car and inspect either the car or me for damage... She chose poorly, ultimately deciding on neither. Instead, she drove less than a foot behind me, laying on her horn, screaming obscenities at me. I wish I could be tough and say that for her sake I was happy that there was a police officer less than 2 tenths of a mile away who came running to my rescue and who then stopped her, but I'm a baby. And I was shocked. After the officer determined that I was OK, I continued on my way.
The shock came for me around mile 8 when I realized that I was still on track for a PR, and I was still running my best race ever. I was running on adrenaline at that point, I am sure... but still...
At the water stop at mile 8.5, I briefly told the person in charge that I had been hit and that I was OK, but that they needed to be aware that it happened. And after that it was a blur. Every mile or so, I either had a police officer, a race official, a volunteer, or the SAG wagon try to talk to me to get more information. I understand that they had a job to do, and I don't begrudge them that, but I had 4 miles left and I didn't want to lose my PR now because of administrative issues if getting hit by a car wasn't what actually slowed me down. I continued on my way, but after getting stopped for the 4th time with an attempt to pull me from the course, I was angry. No amount of running was going to alleviate my anger. I told the officials that I would meet them at the finish line to go over any reports that needed going over, but to please leave me.
Half Marathon #37