Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Race the Runways Half Marathon Race Recap

I'm an official half marathoner. Very cool. Sometimes when I think of it, it's a great accomplishment. Other times, it's not a big deal. One thing is for certain, I learned a lot during that race - what to do and not to do - and I'm looking forward to tackling another one. 

I woke up race morning ready to go. I got a fairly good night of sleep. I got dressed and had two slices of peanut butter toast for breakfast. I arrived at the race venue with plenty of time and met up with my Rail Trail Chicks. It was so windy and cold, but there was nothing we could do about that, we just hope that we dressed semi-appropriately. 

We tried to perfectly time the last port-o-potty trip, but ending up having plenty of time. After heading to the starting line and doing a short warm-up with Jen, the race started nearly 20 minutes late! Ugh...freezing in the wind on the runway.

Jen, Stacy, Jill and me
Soon we were off and fast considering we were running into a stiff headwind. The plan, which was immediately thrown out the window, was to run around a 8:15-8:20 pace and try to negative split.

Mile 1 - 7:56 (oops...okay, we were excited at the start)

This part of the course was the start of the first out-and-back portion that we would repeat twice. It was flat, like most of the course, with one aid station that we would run past three times. I skipped it the first time being only 1.5 miles into the race. We reached the second mile marker - 7:45. CRAP! Why are we running so fast...and why does it feel so easy? Mile three is where we turned around the first time - 7:53. This is when negative thoughts started creeping in...I need to slow down for fear of blowing up later on, even though I felt really good. I was still hanging on with Jen when we reached mile four in 7:56. Soon after was the aid station and turn around. I stopped to grabbed a cup of water and told Jen to keep going. She was wearing her Camelbak, and if you read my last post, I decided not to wear mine. 

Result - walk through the aid stations. And the result of walking through the aid stations? My legs had a very difficult time getting moving again and my pace started to suffer. One word popped into my head - SURVIVAL. Christy posted this quote on her blog today:

"The number one reason why people give up so fast is because they tend to look at how how far they still have to go, instead of how far they have gotten."

I was freaking out a little about the numbers and the distance I still had to go that I feel like I gave up a little. I was pissed that my legs felt like bricks. The one awesome thing was the fact that since we did this out-and-back twice, we saw so many people that we knew, it was very encouraging to keep going. 

Mile 5 - 8:24
Mile 6 - 8:43
Mile 7 - 8:12

All I remember thinking is to reach the next aid station. The only one time that I really needed water was coming back out of this portion the second time since I had eaten a couple of Shot Blok's and my lips were all sticky. I was also hoping hydrating would help my legs feel better. I didn't notice the difference though, my legs still felt like crap. 

Then my feet, which were frozen at the start, now felt like they were on fire. I thought I felt blisters forming between my toes. I tried not to think about it and focus on running with a girl right in front of me. 

Mile 8 - 9:12

Now the shorts of my skirt were starting to annoy me - the left leg in particular. Ugh...chafing. My first experience with it. Now I know why Body Glide is a runner's BFF.
Mile 9 - 8:33 (surprising split as I walked through an aid station here)

As I was reaching the spot on the course that would take us on the final out-and-back, I saw Ian and the boys on sitting on the curb. Seeing them at this point could not have been more perfect. I wanted to rush over an give them a hug, but focused on the final four miles and shouted, "I love you guys!"

Seeing my handsome boys

Then I saw Ward, Wade and their kids. They yelled to me to catch the group in front of me...those I lost through the last aid station. More words of encouragement that could not have been better timed. 

(Photo Courtesy Running with the Girls)
Mile 10 - 8:56

Another aid station with music playing. Mentally, I was so ready to be done. I was bummed that I was three minutes slower for the ten miles than at the Mid-Winter Classic. But in that race, everything fell into place for me. 

As I was going down the only hill in the course, cursing that I would soon have to turn around and go up and into the wind, I saw Jen coming towards me (almost a whole mile ahead!) "Kick ass PR, baby!" I yelled. And she did - 1:44, a five-minute personal best!

Mile 11 - 8:55

Now to battle the wind. Up the hill...crawling. Swearing out loud to Jill who was coming down it towards me. "Who put this F'ing hill here?!?" Aid station one more time...just go, you are almost there.

Mile 12 - 9:18

Straight up the runway into the wind. I was following a woman in orange...just keep with her. I could see the finish. I passed her. Turn to the finish. There is a guy ahead of me. I might be able to catch him. Jen and family cheering. I can't catch this guy. I came close, but I could not get my legs to change gears. 

(Photo Courtesy Maine Running Photos by Penta)
GO TEAM TOUGH CHIK! (Photo Courtesy of Running with the Girls)
Done. 1:52:03

Goal A - finish a half marathon: check.
Goal B - finish in less than two hours: check.
Goal C - finish in less than 1:50: very close.


Lessons I learned from this race:
  • If I wore my Camelbak, I would have had it. Lesson learned. 
  • If I hadn't gotten caught up with the excitement of the start and running with someone faster than me, I would have had it. Lesson learned.
  • If I didn't fiddle with my shorts or wear new socks that created this blister, I would have had it. Lesson learned.
  • If I had hydrated/fueled better/differently prior to the race, I might have had it. My dead legs appeared at last years Beach to Beacon when I had peanut butter toast for breakfast. Coincidence? Maybe. Could have just been the time of the month, too. Or just an off day.
  • If I hadn't screwed up the training schedule in the last two weeks leading up to the race, maybe things would have been different. Who knows?
Needless to say, my legs felt great afterward. Once I got home, I put them in full compression, rested on the couch, and it was as if I never ran. What the? Stupid legs. Now I'm ready to get back out there, but I want to let my blisters heal.

It was a PR regardless and now I can just work towards improving my time and long distance race strategy. 

I was not the only one who ran in my family. Zeke ran his very first race in the kid's quarter-mile fun run.


(Photo Courtesy Running with the Girls)
Ian said he ran the whole thing. I am more proud of him than anything else.



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