BB&T Cup Half-Marathon Race Recap
Here goes nothin'! Three months ago, I signed my name on the dotted line to run my 9th half-marathon, the BB&T Corporate Cup, in good ol' Uptown Charlotte. But here's the thing: I've dreaded it like the dentist every day since. In all honesty, I've slacked on my training and only got my mileage up to about 10 miles in the 12 weeks before. 🙈Then throw an obnoxious case of Runner's Knee into the mix, it's safe to say that going into this race, I was the most unmotivated I've ever been.
But an unexpected turn of events took place two days leading up to the race: Matt, my boyfriend, entered an Instagram giveaway for a free entry to the 5k and was randomly selected as the winner! So rather than flying solo for my packet pickup, pasta dinner, crack-of-dawn call time, and pre-race shakeout run, I got to enjoy my race day ritual with a +1.
I gotta admit, seeing how pumped Matt was for his race made me slightly more excited to tackle mine. And when we arrived to the starting line, watching the bustling crowds and hearing Portugal The Man blare through Uptown actually put a smile on my face. Before I knew it, it was time to give Matt a goodbye hug and shuffle my way into the starting line pack. Everyone was antsy to get this thing goin' so the emcee's spiel was short 'n sweet and then a five-second countdown came soon after.
I started the first mile off with an ambitious 7:30 pace, mostly because 1) Trillville's "Neva Eva" randomly came up first on my playlist 😂, and 2) I wasn't mad about it. So I was super startled when someone tapped me on the shoulder mid jam-sesh. I turned around and sure enough it was Kara, a friend I met on Instagram (and a rockstar runner). While maintaining what looked like 7:00 pace, she effortlessly asked me how I felt, wished me good luck, and reassured me that I was going to do great. Then she sped off into the distance and left me with a big smile at how great it felt to have someone take interest in my run.
As you might remember, I haven't had a very good taste in my mouth for the RunKeeper app I’ve been using. So when I passed the first mile marker and the app chimed that I ran one mile in 5m30s, I laughed out loud and almost threw my phone into the wind. Then, for the first time ever, I went completely off the grid and shut off all my timers, trusting only my legs to guide me.
Feeling scared to death but also free as a bird, I somehow found my groove in the third mile. I was soaring through Uptown and I actually felt like I was in completely in control of my race. With this newfound confidence, I even dreamt about the possibility of taking home a new PR!
But naïve lil' me didn’t realize that the fun was only just beginning. As soon as we left Uptown, we were faced with the infamous upward slope of Providence Road. And I'm not just talking about one mighty hill. I'm talking hill after hill. Pretty much all the hills Charlotte has to offer. It was brutal.
So it came as no surprise to me that by mile 8, my dreams of doing something incredible were out the window. I was losing steam, my knees were angry, and my pace was slowing more with each step.
At mile 9, I enjoyed a bit of comic relief when I spotted some award-winning signs on the sidelines: "This is a lot of work for a free banana" and "Worst parade ever". That's when I cracked the only smile I remember.
At mile 10, I had officially had enough. In a moment of defeat, I settled into a walk. I slowed my roll and took a breather, but I knew deep down that I was pushing my body to the max. My knees were screaming at me for abusing them and I cursed myself for not taking my training more seriously. If only I had gotten a few more Saturday long runs in... if only I hydrated more... if only I was younger. Every excuse in the book swam through my mind and thinking about them made me feel even weaker.
It took everything I had to make it through those last three miles. I'd like to attribute it to my mental toughness, but this is what really happened: with less than two miles to go, a kind passerby swerved over (when I was clearly struggling) and encouraged me with "Come on girl, you can do it!" I don’t know what it is about when a stranger cheers me on, but I always believe them. If someone who doesn't know anything about me says I can do it, then hell yeah I can! So for one last hoorah I picked up my pace, turned onto the familiar Tryon Street and hustled into the cheering crowd at the finish line.
Even though this race wasn’t at all what I hoped, I took home a shiny medal and two very important lessons learned:
1. No train, no gain.
I gotta confess: this is the first race I've ever run where I thought I could just "wing it". I neglected to get my miles in during the 12 weeks leading up to this big day and as a result, my Runner's Knees didn't let me live it down. 6 minutes slower than my last half, I think my finish time speaks for itself.
So I learned that no one magically gets better by being stagnant. Sure, taking time off is important, but there is a fine line between getting the rest you need and being flat out lazy. I definitely crossed that line on this one.
2. You're not ordinary just because you didn't do something extraordinary.
When I sprinted across the finish line, my cheeks were beaming bright red, partly from exhaustion and partly from embarrassment. 🙈 Onlookers were cheering for me, because I had a seemingly strong finish, but truly, I didn't even want to make eye contact with the clock because I was so ashamed.
But I had to remind myself that even though I didn't pull off a miracle, that doesn't mean I wasn't amazing today. I mean, come on. 13.1 miles? Run, walk, or crawl, that's an incredible feat that anyone should be proud of! So while I spend the next few weeks licking my wounds and re-strategizing my training, you better believe I'm planning my next big comeback. We're not finished yet, 13.1.
1:50:48 finish time // 8:28 average pace // 15th F25-29 out of 62
65th female out of 376 // 219th overall out of 765