I consider myself an intermediate runner and I primarily run as a hobby. I decided to run a half marathon because The Syttendai Mai (Norwegian for the 17th of May, Norwegian Independence Day) is a 16.2 mile race. The founder of the race was always so fond of saying that it was a combo race- a 10 mile plus a 10k. I think it was actually billed as a 17 mile but when they actually checked the distance after the first year, it was found to be lacking by .8 mile. But then they were unwilling to change the original route, so we got a 16.2 mile race.
The 1983 Syttendai Mai was better than expected. This race takes place on the nearest Saturday morning to May 17th, Norwegian Independence Day. The founder and director, Carlyle Sherstad was a staunch Norwegian, a great senior runner, and an all-around salesman for running in the area. Grantsburg is a small town of about 2000 people but the race often drew over 1000 people; many being drawn from the Twin Cities of Minnesota which was a bit over an hour away. I had run this race the year before at a 7:43 pace and felt I could have pushed it quite a bit more so I was aiming to at least get under 2 hours and see what else could be achieved beyond that.
I have been somewhat obsessive over my 31 years of running to keep a log of distances, pace comments, and temperature for each run. So it was a little cool on that May morning (43 degrees) and very sunny throughout. When the gun went off, I struck a pace that was a bit much for me and I knew I would need to cut back to run my own race. The most disconcerting thing was my neglect to tighten my very loose shoes before I started. To stop and tighten my laces would have taken 20-30 seconds; I was so knuckle-headed about sustaining a predetermined pace that I never stopped to do it. My first mile was about 6:15 and I cut back to about a 6:45-7:00 pace. I was able to sustain that throughout the whole race.
About half-way through the race I knew I was going to pay dearly for not tightening my laces but I kept on in my stubborn idiocy. But when I finished in 1:52:55 (6:58 pace), I was genuinely exhilarated even though my feet were a blistered mess.
This was clearly the best race I ever ran, including my 2 marathons. I have thought a few times since then how much better I might have done had I tightened my laces. I have concluded that I wouldn't have done any better. The addition of my willfullness in overcoming the mistake heightened my determination to continue to run this race at this pace no matter what the obstacles. It's simply how my personality works.
I didn't run for a few days after that to let my feet heal. I did deeply enjoy the thought of running a race of that length under a 7 minute pace. The only goal I never hit was running a 10k under 40 minutes. I made it to 41:17 and there it will forever be.