Monday, October 17, 2011
Eighteen months ago I would have never imagined writing a half marathon recap blog – now I’m writing my third in 6 months’ time. Yep, me, Britt who couldn’t pass the one mile run on middle school fitness test and couldn’t run between two lamp posts five years ago (maybe even 3 years ago if I thought hard enough of an example in which I tried).
I signed up for the Buffalo Creek Half Marathon only about 3 weeks ago. When I finished my second in mid-Sept, I figured I had a good amount of time to recover from that one and train for this one. I also saw the elevation map (started at about 1300ft and went down to 780 or something) plus it was a rails-to-trails course so I thought “softer ground”. Well, good intentions were blown away with yucky weather on the weekend I was supposed to do my long run in between the races. Also, I slacked on a few of my training runs throughout the week. Still, having run 13 miles a few weeks before, I wasn’t extremely concerned. Leading up to the race I kept thinking “I can always walk”.
I could tell I was so much more laid back about this than other races. Heck at about 8:30 the night before I said to Bonnie – we haven’t even printed out directions yet. (She had, of course, since she’s more of a planner than I am.) I went to bed not 100% sure what I was even going to wear. Other races I have the outfits laid out nicely. I woke up to 48 degrees with a real feel of about 32. Hmm, how does one dress for that? I opted for a short sleeved shirt with the arm sleeves, a long sleeved shirt over top and then long pants. We get to the course for packet pick-up and it’s as windy as can be. I began doubting my clothes choice thinking I should have worn a jacket. We had to park one place (and get our packets) and they bused us to the start. Luckily, there, they had a well-organized bag drop off to put my sweatshirt in and a heated building to wait in for the start. We ran into (like we do in even the busiest of races) Lynn (LYNNANN43) and her son, Kevin, in the building. We got to chat while waiting for the start.
The bus driver said there were 850 registrants, so it was small for a half marathon. Unfortunately, it felt like thousands when it’s a big group start and no start map (what kind of half only has a clock time?). We’re off and headed to the trail. I decided going in that my goal was to finish, I didn’t even really have that little voice in the back of my head saying “PR”. I wanted to try and enjoy myself. The first mile had a guy yelling out times – he said 10 something. A little fast for us but it was only the first mile. By mile two the wind calmed down and I warmed up, pulling off my sleeves. I kept both shirts on and was a good temperature the rest of the race.
The trail wasn’t as smooth as the ones I’m used to but it was nicer than asphalt. It was beautiful to run with the orange, red and yellow leaved trees. We were cruising along and I was feeling pretty good. Bonnie wears a Garmin so I’d check every once in a while that we were pacing OK (at one point I made her slow down.) After doing some research after my last half, I realized that I have IT band issues, which makes the outside of my knee hurt. I was so laid back about it all, I stopped 3-4 times to stretch my leg to try and prevent it from hurting. I think the stretching helped in that my legs were a lot better than last two (still hurt a little but not excruciating like last time.) At mile 10 the time reader said 1:53. Doing some quick math I realized that we were on pace to get under 2:30. Well, I think I wish I hadn’t heard him because instead of pushing for a PR, I decided that I could walk more than I probably should have. This race my breathing felt heavy, like I couldn’t get enough air. The problem with starting to walk all of sudden was that starting up the running again really is an effort. I was having trouble finding a slower pace that wasn’t a walk – I know it’s mental but I couldn’t figure it out. I wasn’t that worried (although Bonnie wouldn't run without me, so I felt a little bad about walking so much).
JOPAPGH warned us about an incline at the end. Well, I know inclines and that was HILLS! We left the trail at the end and went up one ramp to the street’s incline that led to a bridge. That sure was walked! We ran most of the last mile into the town of Freeport. Happy to see the end, we finished strong and got in under 2:33 (11:35pace). I’ll take that since our last race was 2:32. Looking at the Garmin we were at under an 11min/mile at mile 5 and about 11:18 at 10 miles. So, it was those last three miles that really slowed down our time. I guess that’s where the lack of training comes in – again, I’m happy I finished and had a decent time for me. I have plenty of time to get under a 2:30!
It was a weird race in that it was smaller and on a trail – it almost didn’t feel like a race since we were slower and not part of a pack. Almost felt like a regular long run (since we do a lot of long runs on trails) which is good in there was little pressure and probably a little bad in there was little pressure. The worst part of the race – no medals at the end. I need to provide that feedback. I think the entrance fee was only $40 – I’d rather pay $50 and get some bling … but that’s just me!
On my iPod play list is Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”. I think it’s a great self-affirming song in many ways but when I hear it when running I remind myself that I’m was born this way – I’m a runner. I may not be a fast runner and that’s OK, “God doesn’t make mistakes.” This half marathon kind of reminds me of the song lyrics. While there is excitement in getting PRs and I don’t find anything wrong with wanting to keep reaching higher, some times taking a few steps back and being happy with who I am and how I ran the race is enough because as Gaga says “I’m on the right track, baby, I was born this way.”
Thanks to all my Spark Friends who have helped me along in this journey. Your encouragement at 1 mile, 3 miles, 6 miles, 8.1 miles and 13.1miles has been unwavering. If you ever doubt you can do something remember me (and many other Sparkers) who was that middle school kid who got a stitch in her side in a 100 yard dash who now proudly has a 13.1 magnet on the back of her car. If I can do something that I set my mind to, so can you!