Remember when I did this a couple of years ago? It was seriously one of my best runs ever and a PR for a half marathon on any course.
Last year, I did the bike tour instead. Sure it was fun. Sure I like to cycle, but as we stood on the bridge overlooking the runners coming in, I was desperately wishing I had run instead. I vowed it wouldn't make that mistake again.
While this half has been on the agenda and was intended to be part of my overall training plan for my first of four marathons this season, with the myriad of injuries and illnesses, I never got my mileage in. Didn't get properly trained. I knew I would see it through, but knew that my PR was not going to be achieved and I could very possibly be walking a good portion of it. I had resigned myself to that fact. I was going to have to swallow my competitive side and just run as if training.
(getting ready - waiting for my ride)
Lisa and a 'burb full of girls picked me up at 5am, since I had no bike to load, my pick up was simple. Just me and my water.
Next up was picking up Tiburon. Once they got her bike racked, we headed to the U and the others began to unload. The bike tour participants started their ride at 6am, while the runners weren't until 7am. After the girls got off on their way, I jumped up front with my new friend Pam and we chatted while waiting for our turn to head to the start line. Since this was in no way gonna be competitive for me, I had no nerves. Nothing. Just hoping that the rain would stop, and that it would be warm enough to run without my sweatshirt.
Finally at 6:30, we turned off the 'burb, I made sure I had everything ready to go, and then put the key in the slot that we thought it was supposed to go. Turns out it was the cassette deck. CRAP! We wrangled our fingers in there trying to dig it out but to no avail. I can't believe I stuck Lisa's spare key in her tape deck! All I could think was Kris was straight up going to kill me. After doing all we could, we gave up, got out, hit the lock and walked a few feet towards the area of the start. That is when I realized that I locked my water bottle with my Gu and Shotbloks in its zippered handle. CRAP! Really? This is SO not getting off to a good start.
We found the porta potties and the immense lines. Pam jumped into a line and I wandered seeing if there was a shorter one. I found one that basically had two people in it. Jumped in, took care of business, turned to find Pam but had lost her in the sea of people.
I headed to the start line and as my psychological habit forces me, I got as close to the actual start as I could. Yep, right next to the Kenyan and the big dogs that were running the marathon and whom I guessed would finish their full marathon long before I crossed for just my half.
Some warming up, the national anthem (why can't people be respectful - take off their hats, pull their headphones out of their ears, place their hands over their hearts and shut the hell up?) and then it was time to go.
The starting siren sounded, the crowd moved forward and we were off. I had planned to meet a friend a few hundred feet or so down course where she was gonna jump in and run bandit. We had coordinated some texting and right where she was meeting me, also happened to be Chad's truck. Perfect place for me to lose the sweatshirt and get her into the mix. Mission accomplished.
It was great to have Chris running alongside me. Normally, I am not a chatty runner but since I was chalking this up to training, the racing instinct had been subdued and we settled into a fairly good pace. She is definitely faster than I am, so it was great to have her push me a bit. It was the perfect push in that it wasn't too much, but enough that I couldn't let myself get away with any cheating.
Before we even knew it, it was mile 7. Over half way. It felt like the time was flying! We kept about the same pace, stopping only for a few brief walking steps at the watering stations. About mile 9, I noticed my right calf starting to cramp and tighten up a bit. I was making sure to drink at just about every aid station and I was choosing gatorade over water for the potassium. At one point I even took an electorlite capsule that Chris had on her and I think that helped it from getting any worse.
We rounded into Liberty Park and I was reminded about how much I hate that section. I hate the cement. I just wanted to get it over with. As we came out and made the turn left heading west, I noticed the mile marker 10. We only have a 5k left. I pulled out my phone and looked at the time. We were in it 1:36. All I could hope for at this time was something close to two hours and I knew we still had the hill up state street.
I tried to call Splenda Daddy to let him know how far away I was, but no answer. We kept a steady gait and at this point, you begin to see a lot of runners struggle. Tiredness sets in, mental exhaustion hits, and cramps, soreness and fatigue all tend to drag a runner.
We turned up state street, and remarked that the hill was looming ahead. Chris picked it up a little and I told her to move on ahead and keep her good pace. I was lagging back a bit, but still feeling pretty steady. Pretty soon I saw her running with an instructor from our gym. This instructor almost died from a cycling accident, and she has been so inspiring with her recovery, that I wanted to catch up . I pushed it and made it up to them long enough to say hi, but couldn't keep their pace and lagged back once again.
My calf was really starting to hurt. At the next aid station, I drank more water and gatorade and tried walking to see if that would help. It still hurt, so I figured I might as well run, get it over with and take care of the calf later. Walking wasn't doing it any good, so there was nothing to lose by running.
I picked it back up and then called Tiburon to tell her where I was. I anticipated another 20 minutes or so. That last aid station was perfect, it did something mentally for me and once I made the turn onto south temple, I found myself running faster than I had the whole race. I was able to garner a few road kills, keep my speed up and watch my form all at the same time. Also, the crowds of people cheering are getting larger and larger and mentally, that seriously does something for you.
With the bursts of energy, I pushed on, rounded the corner at gateway, sprinted the small block west, and then rounded into the chute. By now there are HUNDREDS of people cheering and my eyes are searching the crowd for my family and Tiburon and still trying to focus on sprinting as hard as I can.
(chloee and Luke making their way over to gateway)
(waiting and hoping I'll come soon - it was a little chilly)
(i'm somewhere in that sea)
(yay! I see them, and they see me!)
I heard my name and looked to the left to see Splenda Daddy, Chloee, Luke and Tuffy all waving at me! That was it, that was the final burst I needed to give it absolutely everything left in me.
Soon I see the clock. It is sub 2 hours! I run even faster only to see it flip to the 2 hour mark. I muttered a quiet 'damn' but kept pushing. Finally, I crossed the line. I don't remember the exact time on the clock, but it was two hours and some extra numbers.
(there I am, a spec in the crowd trying to push my way forward)
(i've crossed now and desperately wanting water)
I let that soak in for a second. A 2 hour half marathon with a body that has been plagued with one thing or another prohibiting training, and not enough mileage build up. I was satisfied. I finished without any significant walking and my body, particularly my legs felt great.
I continued through the chute, got my picture taken, received my medal and then started hitting the food boxes. An orange, some chocolate milk, free bags of chips, a creamie, some bags with rolls and cookies, basically anything that was free.
I soon met up with my family and Tib and she and I were able to congratulate each other. I heard about her bike tour, she heard about my run. We took some pictures and then headed to the cars and for home.
(yay for medals - any why does my bib have 666 in it?)
( a bestie at the finish line - what a friend!)
I felt great. I felt exhilarated. I felt satisfied that I had given the best run I could. I felt that the season is going to bode well. I was grateful for my family being there to support me and for my bestie to hang around and be at the finish line for me as well. What a great feeling.
1:59.57 - I will take it. Broke sub 2 hours. Granted by 3 seconds, but I am TAKING IT!
63rd out of 249 in my age division
666th out of 2715 overall women
1547th our of 4444 overall participants.
9:09 minute overall pace
Again certainly not my best times ever, but all things considered not too bad. Of course, we all know my mantra for no excuses, this is what it is.
Should I have hydrated better the couple of days in advance? Yes - I would have had less cramping
Should have I moved off the slope of the road earlier than the 6 mile mark? Yes - my IT band would not be feeling it right now.
Should I have made sure I had my water bottle and all my stuff? Yes - only a dork leaves those behind.
But again, it is what it is, I am not going to feel bad about it. Instead, I'll give myself a little pat on the back that I came out better than I could have hoped for and use it as a lesson to not get lazy in my training and to remember all the things I need to remember when preparing for a race.
Thanks again to my diva's for their encouragement. To Chris who paced with me, chatted with me and made the miles fly by. But most importantly to my family and my Shark who made the effort to be at the finish line and cheer me through the chute!
And now, I'll take tomorrow off and rest up, ice, massage, roll out the angry IT band and start back on the training path Monday.
What a great way to start the racing season!
**thank you Tib for taking some great phots!**