Another Half in the books.  I’m not even sure how many that makes. I don’t count anymore. Yesterday’s Caesar Rodney Half Marathon in Wilmington, Delaware was my first Half (at my pace) in eighteen months, and my brain knew it.

Despite the drizzle, I was happy to be at the starting line, especially considering the previous two weeks I had been sick (bronchitis).

Mystery 1: After the heart-stopping cannon sounded the start of the race, the question was: “How would my breathing be after being sick?”

Mystery 2: “How is my current  ‘Mental Endurance’ for a race at this distance?”

Well, it turned out my breathing held up for the most part. My Mental Endurance, on the other hand, only made it about 10 miles.  My brain needs to get back into “longer race” shape.  The only way to address this is to race more.

The Caesar Rodney is a tough Half course. The first 5+ miles are either downhill or flat. These miles showcase the redevelopment along the Wilmington Waterfront. It is very easy to go out too fast, which is probably what I did for the shape I am in right now (6:30 / mile average through Mile 5).  This is an issue, especially if one is not prepared for the series of hills, which includes a seemingly endless 2.8 mile ascent beginning around Mile 6 (Miles 6 to 8.8). When you begin the ascent, your pace is challenged in a big way, especially if you aren’t with a pack.

At this point, I was fortunate enough to lock on to a fellow runner. We made the ascent together. The pace slowed to 7:00-7:15 pace; not too bad. Essentially, this got me to the 9 mile mark. I thought: “I’m in the clear! Except for the uphill finish, the rest of the race is downhill!”…so I thought.

Well, changes were made to the course (Miles 9+ to 11). The good news: it was generally flat.  The bad news: I wasn’t mentally ready for this change. I kept waiting for the payoff of the “downhill” to begin, and it came later than it usually does for this race. At the same time, my body was fatiguing from my lack of activity during the previous two weeks, and my mind was fatiguing from my lack of recent racing at this distance.  My pace slowed, but I gutted out the rest of the race.

The finish is a grueling ¼ mile uphill. My legs felt like lead, but I crossed the finish line (1:28:40); 5+ minutes slower than my Course Best, but satisfying considering, in the few days prior, I wasn’t even sure I’d be able to run the race.

I am happy to be back at racing, even though I’m not quite fully there yet (I’m sure my finish line photo will be scary/funny). All in all, it was a good dress-rehearsal for the St. Luke’s Half in Allentown on 4/29.

REALIZATION: I need to start doing push-ups again to strengthen my upper body. My arms were useless by the end, especially during the final uphill finish.  Push-ups have helped me in the past, and they will help again.

FUN FACT: In 1776, Caesar Rodney rode from Delaware to Philadelphia to cast the deciding vote in favor of moving forward with the Declaration of Independence!

AMAZING COINCIDENCE: Here is a crazy cool coincidence: A person I Follow on Twitter (and Follows me), , also ran the Caesar Rodney yesterday.  Of the 1,405 finishers, we placed next to each other.  We had no idea until after the fact…Check this out:

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