Half Marathon Race Recap

>> Monday, May 6, 2013

Yesterday Stephen and I laced up to the start of our third Bridge Half Marathon. The weather was great -- not a cloud in the sky and temps in the low-50s. We had a bit of a rocky night, which I'll write more about on Writing Chapter Three, but overall I felt well-rested, well-trained, and well positioned to set a PR.

I decided against running with a watch at the last minute -- Stephen suggested I get a new battery for my old Timex so I could generally gauge my pace, but in the chaos of Ada's bedtime, I just plain forgot. I don't make many excuses as a mommy-runner, but, and this is no joke, anytime we have a race, there is (without fail, it seems) some major tantrum or sleep issue or SOMEthing. It's just part of being a parent, but it also means that lead-up to big events isn't always pretty or ideal.

So, there I was at the start. Wringing my hands, compulsively stretching my IT-band, and wondering if it was a mistake to go blind. I kept reminding myself to go out slow and steady. Conservative and then push the pace later on. I wanted to run negative splits and feel strong.

The gun went off + I started cruising. I settled into what felt like a comfortable pace at first, but when I quickly found myself at mile 2 with a neighboring runner, I learned I was running 7:30/mile! 15 minutes for 2 miles was way too fast for a race this long (I was hoping to maintain maybe 7:50 overall, so likely start in the low 8s), I immediately knew it and may have been heard saying "stupid, stupid, STUPID!" to myself.

Yeah. Definitely stupid.

I pulled back a bit and tried to collect myself. The sun was out and hot -- something we're not at all used to in these parts -- and it was zapping me. I decided at that point to divide the race into the water stations. 2 miles apart. Just make it to the 4-mile station. The 6. The 8. This strategy worked well in some ways, but in others . . . my aggressive starting pace was r.e.a.l.l.y hurting me + my time.

I got to mile 6 at which point the course crosses one of my favorite bridges in the area. I felt empty inside, probably because all I could choke down for breakfast was 1/4 of a bagel and a little applesauce. People were passing me. I was just in a tunnel, ignoring everything outside myself. But before I knew it, I was at mile 8. I knew my pace was slowing, but I had mentally chosen to just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Ada and Stephen's mom were waiting by mile 9 with some coconut water and Honey Stingers. Oh, yeah. Mile 9 was after quite a hill . . . so when I go to the top and saw them, I was, well, a lot of things. First: Ada has never cheered us on at a race, so I was happy to see her. Second, I really needed that fuel. Third: My IT-band had started acting up and I wanted to stop. But I didn't want to stop. Wow, I really wanted to stop.

I ended up stopping for a good 30 seconds with them to get my sh*t together, because at that point, I was physically and mentally a mess. I hate when people say "oh, well, if I didn't do such-and-such, I could have run THIS much faster" . . . because in reality, no . . . no you couldn't have. I needed to stop and if I hadn't stopped, I'm pretty sure I would have had to walk some of the race.

I digress . . . 

I kept going. Mile 10 = another water station. I sipped and then splashed the rest of the water over my head. My IT-band ached but for some reason, stopping had given me more energy. I picked up the pace and continued to do so for the remainder of the race. Honestly, those last several miles were blurry. I was tired, I was running fast, and the sun was right at my face.

I went all out for the last mile and then when I got to the turn into the finishing area, I gunned it. I don't know about you, but whenever I'm at the end of a race, I get this overwhelming surge of adrenaline, so much that I can't feel my body. I also had this weird crying thing going on, which had nothing to do with a fuzzy sense of accomplishment. I was just happy it was OVER.

The clock in the distance . . . 1:44:25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30. I crossed the line and basically roared with YEAHHHHH! I did it. Somehow I managed to PR by just over 2 minutes (my previous was 1:46:27 at the Runners World Half in October) after an ugly, dumb-with-a-capital-D race.

My official time is 1:44:25, 7:55/mile, 17th out of 169 in the 20-29 female category, 192 out of 1076 overall.

(Stephen ran a 1:16:19 and placed 5th in male overall, which is fantastic, but not a PR for him. In fact, he even ran some 13.1 distance training runs at that pace. He says it just wasn't his day and he made a decision early on to pull back and enjoy. At mile 9, he got some gusto and passed three front-runners before crossing the finish.)

Happy + proud. I trained hard for this PR. Overshadowing all of that, some pain.

My IT-band was really warm and icky feeling and feels no different today, so I'm going to lay off it for the next week. In the final miles, I don't remember much, but I do remember bargaining with myself.

I know I shouldn't make any rash decisions, but there's a chance I might drop to the half marathon in the fall. Not because I'm wussing out . . . but because if I'm getting IT-band woes during the half, you KNOW I'll get those ten-fold during full marathon training.

I didn't have any inklings of it returning during my training this time around, so I thought I was over it. Anyway, I've been there and done that, twice, and I don't know if I'm ready or willing to deal with it again.

Not one of our better photos together. I just needed a shower :)

Did you race this weekend? I feel like there were 10,000,000 races. How did you do? Or have you signed up for anything recently? Tell me your running-related news!

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