Monday, October 18, 2010
Girlfriends Half Marathon
aka HM #5!
First of all half marathon #5??? Iím quite confident that absolutely that nobody that knew me through my school days would have ever, ever, ever dreamt that Iíd be writing about the FIFTH half marathon Iíve RAN. Started - maybe. Crawled - possibly. Watched - probably. I was that girl that no one wanted on their team. You know the one. Every class had one. I was a year younger than everyone in my grade. I was several inches shorter - my Mom tried hard to sell ďpetiteĒ as cute but the classmates never went there. My co-ordination was a joke - actually it still kinda is LOL. And to make it all just that much worse I was smart AND I wore glasses. Did I mention my Mom dressed me funny? No really. Mail-order catalog in Fairbanks, Alaska funny. I have the pictures to prove it. So Iím going to start this race report with a proud squaring of my shoulders and a mental ďtake thatĒ to all those kids that argued over which team would HAVE to take me. Bet you wish you had me on your team now - donít ya!
Again not breaking any land speed records here but itís a time Iím pretty proud of. Mainly Iím proud of how I got to that time. Because I did it the smart way. I had a plan and I stuck to it - at least mostly. So let me tell you all about it!
First of all Friday I ended up coming home from work sicker than a dog. I mean literally running down the hall to the restroom to vomit sick. That was fun. Spent the rest of the day and night bouncing from bathroom to bedroom hoping my stomach would settle enough to get some sleep.
Woke up Saturday morning and felt okay. Not 100% but good enough to pack my bag and head out for the 200 mile drive to Vancouver for the Girlfriends Half Marathon. I figured my hotel room was already paid for and at worst I could either walk the event or cheer the runners on as they passed by the hotel parking lot.
Once in Vancouver I ran in to pick up my race packet and found all kinds of fun goodies in there. My favorites are the very cool black race vest and the cute pink drawstring bag. A few other fun items in there and definitely a few that got me thinking about the goodie bags Iíll be handing out to my Inspiring Hope runners in May.
Since I still wasnít 100% I decided against exploring the town and instead watched some football in the hotel bar while enjoying a bowl of clam chowder and a beer. I know. I know. But it didnít hurt me. I promise! Remembering my bread mistake from last year I passed on the bread and instead headed upstairs.
Before I headed to a very early bedtime I checked my messages and discovered that a Sparkfriend that I hadnít yet met in person was planning to come out to cheer me on during the race. How seriously cool is that? Kate - I canít begin to tell you how much that meant to me. Iím used to doing stuff on my own and am pretty comfortable with it but sometimes it is just so nice to know someone you know is out there rooting you on. Thank you SO MUCH!
Race day dawned beautiful - clear, cold and gorgeous. I took a quick shower, enjoyed a couple cups of coffee (another error from last year erased) and headed out the door. I found a parking spot only three blocks away and headed towards the Start/Finish line. Bag check was a breeze and I grabbed a banana to go with my granola bar dipped in almond butter for breakfast. I know it sounds weird but itís really good! As I was stretching with the group I heard my name called and found Kate rushing up behind me. I would have recognized her from across the parking lot. We chatted a bit, she snapped a quick photo and then I discovered that she has a beautiful singing voice as she sang along to the national anthem before the race began. A quick goodbye and I made my way to line up.
So I had a plan. The plan included 5 minutes running then 2 minutes walking for the entire event. Recognizing that my training was not up to par for this event I set very modest time goals for myself that I wrote out and pinned to my water bottle, along with the words ďSTRONG BEYOND MEASUREĒ and ďNo ExcusesĒ. Iíd refer to those times and those words at many points during the race.
Target: Miles 1-2 11:30
Actual: Mile 1 10:57, Mile 2 11:49
So you know how it goes that first mile. I donít care how carefully I think Iím pacing myself I end up running faster than planned. Period. Now granted mile 1 was about 20 seconds slower than last year but still. One of these days Iíll figure out the whole mile 1 mystery. In the meantime Iíll survive. This mile 1 took us through the Farmers Market, towards my hotel and then to the river. Mile 2 continued along the river and through the first hydration station. Gorgeous route. Watching the fog lift off the river was totally cool. Iíd like to say I took my camera out to capture it for you, but...I was busy.
Target: Miles 3-5 11:45
Actual: Mile 3 11:48; Mile 4 11:40; Mile 5 11:40
Close enough Iím calling it good. Kinda impressed actually that I ran right on target! And even better I felt really, really good. I ran through a couple of the areas that I remembered struggling through last year and felt great. You know - those spots where you thought there was a hill, or a bad tilt or something and find that itís all good. I love it when that happens! Mile 5 was where I started to struggle mentally last year so it felt great to run strong through it. And running along the river and through this incredible park with amazing fall colors was awesome.
Target: Miles 6-8 12:00
Actual: Mile 6 11:59, Mile 7 11:56, Mile 8 12:14
Again - right on target through mile 7. And and mile 7.5 (just when I was starting to beat a certain evil self-talk demon back a bit) there was Kate on the side of the road with a beaming smile and a camera. Itís amazing how a simple ďGo PennyĒ can make all the difference. I perked up and ran strong. In fact if you look at my Garmin you can see how I sped up through that area. LOL. :0) I think the only reason mile 8 looks slow is that two walk breaks fell in it. I felt good through this area.
Target: Mile 9-11 12:00
Actual: Mile 9 12:54; Mile 10 12:09; Mile 11 12:51
Mile 9 - How I hate you. Running is SO mental. I know it. Iíve experienced it many times. And I came equipped for it. Or so I thought. Mile 9 brought the first true mental challenge of this race. Thereís an itty bitty overpass that kicked my rear last year and began the end of a really good run. And I knew it was coming this time. STRONG BEYOND MEASURE carried me up it but it didnít stop the extra walk break that came after it. Mile 9 sucks. But I got through it. And Mile 10 didnít suck as bad. Mile 10 had me doing a mental high-five as I passed by the 10 mile sign. I still had gas in the tank. I wasnít nearly as mentally or physically drained at that point as I had been last year. I was pretty okay in fact. Mile 11 looks slow but actually itís faster than last year. Mile 11 has that stupid hill at the end of it. And who puts a hill at mile 11 anyway? I knew it was coming and I planned to walk it and I was okay with that. I ran up to the bottom edge and I ran off the top of it. And Iím okay with my time for mile 11.
Target Mile 12-13 12:15
Actual: Mile 12 13:24, Mile 13 12:03
Then thereís Mile 12. Another gentle incline that is truly nothing but became a mental challenge for me. I very clearly remembered struggling through Mile 12 last year. Which made this years struggle all mental - except for my right hip which decided to tighten up about here too. Grr. I tried every trick I brought with me to run through Mile 12 and they just didnít work. More walking than necessary. Less running than I could have done. But I slapped some sense into myself at the Mile 13 mark and ran to the Finish Line. And I finished strong. I finished without the horrible calf cramps of last year. I finished without wanting to cry (or throw up). And I finished smiling. At least I think it was a smile. I havenít seen the official pictures yet.
Once across the Finish Line I grabbed my new pretty pink water bottle from the girl scouts and my new finishers necklace from the Vancouver Fire Department and headed over to grab a banana and a bagel before retrieving my gear. I wasnít really hungry but knew I needed to eat so after forcing the food down I changed and headed over for a well deserved massage. Oh - and my well earned piece of fudge! Both were WONDERFUL! After a bit more stretching I headed back to my car for the trip home.
So what did I learn from this race?
~ You donít have to RUN 13.1 miles to consider yourself a runner. I feel really, truly fabulous today and I know itís not a result of adequate training but rather a result of my 5:2 intervals. Lesson learned.
~ Have a plan and stick to it. Make it a reasonable, well thought out plan and thereís really not much that can stand in your way.
~ Come equipped to battle self-doubt. It makes a difference.
~ Encouragement on the side of the road is way more important than I ever realized. Iíve just always accepted that I wouldnít have any. That will change from this point on. Thank you Kate for gifting me with that lesson.
~ Vanilla GU doesnít suck.
~ Running with my own water bottle is the only way to go.
~ I truly truly love to run. Even when it hurts. Even when everything doesnít go exactly as planned. I love to run. Who would have ever dreamed Iíd be the one saying that? And even more important - I mean it too!
120/170 age division
BTW - The overall average time of the field decreased by over 8 minutes this year! I need to find out their secret! :0)