The night before the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation (PCRF) Half Marathon in Irvine was a rough one. I cared for two sick and sniffly kiddos at home while battling my own sore throat and lack of sleep. I contemplated completely skipping the event to instead just lounge with my family in sweats all day. But many members of my beloved Moms Run This Town chapter were participating and thus I felt committed. Luckily the race began just a few miles from my house so the alarm wasn't set for a ridiculously early time.
As a pediatric RN, this race benefits a cause that I surround myself with on both a professional and personal level, and this year, with over 7,000 participants, the foundation impressively raised over $316,000 in research funds for a cure. The event included a cycling race on Saturday followed by the Half Marathon, a 10k, a 5k, and a kids' race on Sunday.
My MRTT group met up just before the race started, and we mingled and snapped a few obligatory pictures. A reporter approached me from Japanese Running Style Magazine and asked a few questions regarding my attire (INKnBURN Dragonfly shorts, INKnBURN Current 4Arms, and my Hokas). They took a few pics. Anyone subscribe to that magazine? Another highlight pre-race for me was finally meeting the peppy Monica, of Run, Eat, Repeat. Turns out we live just a few miles from each other.
My Moms Run This Town girls are truly priceless friends.
I'm famous in Japan. Maybe? Ha.
Monica from Run, Eat, Repeat!
I continued to follow about ten yards behind the distinct foot strike of a woman I recognized from another local race. Since the upcoming Boston Marathon has banned all hydration packs, I had decided to use the PCRF Half as a perfect training platform to practice without my beloved Nathan Intensity vest. I slowed to a walk at every aide station to ensure adequate hydration as the sun began to rise higher. I downed a Salted Caramel GU at mile five. "Why not today for a PR?" I thought. I felt strong. I felt lithe. Perhaps I could keep this pace going, even though I thought I'd never be able to match my current PR of 1:35:48. That PR was achieved in May of 2013, when I felt I was at my peak. Despite the obstacles of sick kiddos, being up a few lbs in weight and sleep deprivation, maybe I could do this?
The following miles were consistently fast, pegged around a 7:00 pace. At mile eight we began to climb. The dreaded negative thoughts began to creep in my head, as they always do with approaching hills. But then I began to think again, "Why not today for a PR?". These were the hills I run every single day, though usually with my single or double stroller full of kid weight. "Suck it up Kat," I thought, "You can have no excuses today, this day you get to run these hills without a stroller for once!!".
So my pace increased a bit through these hilly miles as we wound around the University Community Park, and back into the neighborhood of Woodbridge. We finished the last few miles on the San Diego Creek Trail, my home away from home, where I've spent countless hours training; and still, I followed about ten yards behind that familiar stride, her long black ponytail swishing back and forth with every speedy step.
I knew in the last mile that I had energy left to burn, so I thought about when it would be best to make a move. The first place woman had passed us in the first quarter of the race, and it was just me and this mystery woman left for places. When I could see the balloon arch at the finish, I estimated when a quarter mile was left and I began to kick, right past this woman and across the finish line in second place overall female, achieving a new PR of 1:34:48. I turned to shake her hand, and we immediately began a conversation that lead to the inevitable friendship, sealed by the commonalities of motherhood and the love of the run.
Finish with all you've got. Always.
Happy to receive some fun swag with this PR!
INKnBURN Dragonfly shorts carried me swiftly to a new PR.
Interestingly, this PR was EXACTLY a minute faster than my previous record. Strange. In addition to finishing 2nd female, I also finished 13th overall in the race, and 1st in my age group. With these places I was rewarded with two pint glasses, two gift cards to Road I.D., numerous certificates to local restaurants and a PCRF hat. I was so grateful, I was completely elated. My overall average pace was 7:08 according to my Garmin (I actually ran 13.26 miles).
And so, the lesson I learned at the PCRF Half Marathon is one that everyone can utilize. Why not today for a PR? Make no excuses, just get out there and run your best race. You may be pleasantly surprised.