By Kara Thorne
Three weeks leading into the SLO Half Marathon were stressful for two reasons:
First, I started having issues with my go-to workout/race shoe. The HOKA ONE ONE Tracer had recently become too narrow for my foot. My third and fourth metatarsals started going numb when I'd wear them for longer than 5 miles. I have never had an issue finding a shoe that I have full confidence in until recently. My most favorite HOKA shoe thus far has been the EVO Racer 2, which I had the amazing opportunity to wear test (thank you, HOKA ONE ONE and HOKA Aggies for the opportunity to provide feedback!). Unfortunately, I ran the guts out of my wear test pair and wasn't able to get another in time for the half. I decided to grab a fresh pair of the Hupana... I had worn the Hupana during a few long runs (15 milers) and some workouts (1k reps), so I knew it would get me across the line. What I didn't realize was that it would disappear on my feet. The best shoe for anybody is the one that you're not thinking about during a run.
Second, was how my workouts had been going. Hit and miss workouts definitely don't bring confidence. One day, during a 5 mile tempo, I stopped 4 times. No, not for traffic. Just stopped. My last stop was with 400m to go. I finished the workout by sitting on the curb wondering what the hell was going on. The last time I found myself sitting on a curb instead of running was in high school when my team and I would be sipping on slurpees from 7 Eleven.
A 10 x 1k workout, 15 days out from the race, was Ah-Mazingly smooth and strong, even with the wind changing directions on the Cal Poly track. I felt great, but I was still concerned with my longer-effort workouts. Sure, I could crush k's, but if I couldn't figure out an effort that was sustainable over 13.1 miles, I'd be in trouble. Add in the fact that the new SLO Half course was challenging from the gun (literally! We started on an overpass!!), I felt that I could be in a whole world of pain. With all the turns during the downtown portion of the course and the hilly portion starting with a slap in your face hill on Johnson, I knew that I had to run within myself and base everything off of effort, not time.
Several months ago, my goal was to break the event record. That didn't happen, but I did cross the line first. I realized around a mile and a half in that the race would be a solo effort and a total battle of mind over matter. My mantra was "just don't stop" and I didn't look back once. Overcoming doubt and pushing negative thoughts away are things to celebrate, no matter your finishing time.
Overall, the event was fantastic. From the Grizzly Youth Academy and all of the other volunteers/supporters, to the entire team at RaceSLO, THANK YOU for such an amazing event.