I had a blast AND I finished. Mission accomplished. I missed 2 1/2 hours by 2.06 seconds. I finished with no foot or joint pains. I am a very happy runner. So that's the end of the story. Here's how I got there.
For the first 9 miles I kept pace with Sammy, Anne, and John. I knew in my head that their pace was likely too fast for me but I stuck with them anyway. The worst that would happen, I figured, was that I would crash in the last few miles and walk more than I wanted/planned and that 'worst' was not the end of the world. I decided that I was willing to trade a crash and burn for their company and chatter as long as I could.
I was pleasantly surprised to still be feeling strong and still with them at mile 7. By mile 9, though, I called ahead to Sammy to use her watch for their intervals. At this point although my pace slowed from theirs I was ok. I kept up the 3 and 1 intervals just at a slower pace. We had run the first mile then turned on the interval timer. I had had it in my head before the race that I wanted to run 1 mile; do 3 and 1's for the next 11 and then run the last 1.1 mile. So when mile 12 came I finished my walk interval and ran the rest of the way home.
I didn't crash and burn. Yes, my second half was slower than my first half. Technically, not a good race. Mentally, my race was a huge success. I pushed (thank you Jamie) to stay with my running buddies as long as I could. When we separated I kept pushing albeit slower but still pushing. In the last mile on a part of MLK Blvd that has in the past done me in, I kept going. I focused on my steps, on the river, on picking off slower runners and walkers. Before I knew it I was in the home stretch focused on the finish line. I heard my husband screaming "Go Paula". :) After crossing the finish it seemed to take forever before I saw people handing out medals. At first I thought I had passed them and that would not do! But there they were and I was very happy to accept one.
Lesson learned: I can still do this. It's been a funky training summer but I can still do this. This time next year - for the RNR Philly Half 2012 - I will match or beat my PR at this distance (2:17 in November 2009).
Next up - Ocean City NJ Half.