My plan was to be so committed and stick to my training program No Matter What, so that I would finish my HM as fresh, perfect and graceful as Pippa Middleton (my hero!) on her triathlon. However, thanks to disastrous training coupled with sickness, I took the last few weeks to grieve and accept I may possibly instead resemble Courtney Love should she ever be crazy (sober?) enough to think of completing a HM.
After a strong beginning and successful middle of my training, I decided that walking for miles to binge on cupcakes and pastrami in New York would be the perfect training technique to getting me down to 13.1, instead of, you know, running in Central Park. After coming home, my body decided that it would be REALLY funny to act so exhausted that a trip to the bathroom would take Badwater effort, and instead of allowing ME to do a run or two, let my nose run an ultra-marathon in lightening speeds. They were the sexiest weeks of my life and were the perfect supposed end caps to what would have been an otherwise unbelievable training program.
Ten days before the HM, I woke up feeling one fang less than a zombie and decided to attempt my 12 mile long run. According to everything I read, it takes two weeks to lose fitness, and being that I hadn't run in 12 days, it would make sense that it could be done, right? Um, NO. 3 miles took everything out of me including the smidgen amount of confidence I had left. Tried it again the next day and was barely able to complete a slooooow 6 miles, which otherwise is great, but still wouldn't cut it for the HM.
It literally took days of grieving (crying, whining, hiding every running magazine in sight) over my previous hard work to finally come up with one last negotiation with myself: if I could run-walk the 12 miles, then I can run-walk 13.1. Sure my time will be creepy-crawly snail on a wet sidewalk slow, but that only means I will surely beat my time in this other HM in April (they shuttle you from the finish line to the start in a LIMO!!!! - but alas, that is for another post. Sorry.). I mean, what better way to set up a sure future win than to be a complete disaster now? That sacrifice to me, friends, was too irresistible to pass up (practically free confidence points!).
So alas, I set out to run-walk my 12 miles. Success! That is, if you discount a resulting sore hip, ignore the fact that it took me about 2.5 hours, and that the day I did it would leave me a miniscule 5 days for taper (would that even count?). But whatever, I am going to do this thing even if it makes DH a richer man when he cashes out my generous life insurance policy (minus, of course what I am leaving to my kitties).
The day before the race, I was more nervous than Kate Middleton before her wedding day (Or not. She seems too cool for school when it comes to nervous. Scratch that comparison). I decided to drown my nerves in a turkey pastrami on pumpernickel and pancakes instead of the usual pasta dinner. (I love pasta, but now that I'm living healthy, pasta just seems like too much of a short-lived experience unless you are eating a giant never ending plate of it. It's just too impossible for me to eat one serving.) After fretting and taking my nervousness out on DH (sorry dear!), I actually passed out at 10 pm. Meaning, I was probably the only one who slept the night before the race! Miracle. Finally, the one thing I can actually do better than my peers: sleep. Go figure.
My extremely rude phone decided to wake me up at 4:45 am. I told it stuff it. For at least another 9 minutes anyway, being a snooze button and all. When you are snuggled deep under the cozy covers with your cuddly cat, there is nothing - and I mean no earthquake, fire, NOTHING - that can get me out of bed. That lasted for 5 minutes, when DH decided to kindly turn on the lights. Hmph.
The next hour involved me running around crazy and tripping over my sleepy cats, whom with their big green confused eyes, wondered what in mother's nation would get me up and productive before the sun came up. (Once I broke open a can of food though, all wonder was abandoned. Jerks.) DH and I barely rushed out the door in time to get the most disgusting tar at Peet's Coffee and me wolfing down a plain bagel slathered with creamy peanut butter and topped with bananas. (Forget chewing my food, I was late!)
The race was point-to-point with two different start locations (one for HM and one for 5k) and a separate finish line, DH had to drive like a madman to drop me off so that he could make it to his race. (Oh yeah, did I mention that he was doing a 5k? So proud!) Brilliant race directors, I tell you.
I joined a huge swarm of freezing bodies at the race and proceeded to wait in a LONG LINE for the most disgusting bathroom (it is Venice, after all). In fact the line was so long that I was STILL in line at 7:00 am, when the HM was supposed to start. But hey, at least that conversation allowed me to bond with fellow runners.
Thankfully, the race started 15 minutes late, allowing me to join the line with a comfortably empty bladder. My best hope was to run-walk this thing by 2:30, but I could only find 2:10 and 2:40 corrals with none in between. Humble as always, I jumped into the 2:40 corral, with fellow bodies surrounding me, warming me while I wore a tank top and shorts in the 45 degree temperature.
While huddled, I almost went into near panic when I realized that I was the only one sporting my HUGE hydration belt. I felt like such a rookie!
Finally, the gun sounds and it takes me four anxious minutes of shuffling to get "chipped" in. I'm not sure if it was the near-freezing temperatures, excitement of the crowd, being emotionally overwhelmed to tears at the realization that I was finally *there* (I am such a wuss!), but *something* inside of me (my inner Pippa?) decided that I was going to RUN as much of the 13.1 as I can!
The negotiation with myself was to run 6 miles, which I knew I could do, before taking a break. What exactly happened was I RAN THE ENTIRE 13.1 MILES WITHOUT A BREAK IN 2:03:54! (chip time)
I do not know how that happened or even how on earth I could have accomplished that feat, as I have never in my entire life ran more than 11 miles without a break, ever (and those 11 miles I did took me over two hours with my legs barely hanging at its joints). I have completed longer distances than 13.1 before, but there were stops here in there in the name of nature (aka bathroom breaks) and these little annoying things called stop lights.
So anyway, back to the race, but first are my splits:
Mile 1: 10:26.74
Mile 2: 09:42.37
Mile 3: 09:37.42
Mile 4: 09:32.22
Mile 5: 09:36.03
Mile 6: 09:38.15
Mile 7: 09:44.94
Mile 8: 09:42.45
Mile 9: 09:10.39
Mile 10: 09:03.67
Mile 11: 08:56.34
Mile 12: 08:47.78
Mile 13: 08:31.12
Mile 13.1: 01:25.00
I was an emotional mess. Even though I have biked these paths many times, running it with this crowd was just so *beautiful*. The people on the sidelines cheering made me want to cry. The birds scrapping for bread crusts made me want to cry. The airplanes flying above me made me want to cry. Even the darn TREES made me want to cry. WTH was wrong with me?!
And that was just Mile 1.
As for the 10:26 pace, well, it was just so darn crowded. I felt *lucky* to achieve that pace after zig zagging the crowd, all the while trying not to push my speed.
My left hip started bothering me, allowing me to hit my own inner Panic button a few furious times. Luckily, the path was still crowded, forcing me to pace myself.
Texted DH that I complete Mile 2. (Am I the only one who texts while running?)
With my left hip still complaining and my emotions slightly more tamed, I decided to relax and just take in the experience and views, including more than a few good looking policemen securing the route. LOVE THE EYE CANDY, RACE DIRECTORS!
Since Mile 5 passed the finish line, I was *desperately* hoping that DH would finish his 5k to see me run by. Like a crazy woman, I texted him every time I ran by a mile marker and really started mad-texting when I was approaching the finish area. I came around one bend and my heart sank when I instead saw a bunch of cheerleaders cheering us on, which was nice, but at that point I *NEEDED* to see my DH for that extra emotional support. Around another bend and OMG THERE HE IS!!! I just about burst into tears (again) when I saw him and felt his warm hand clap against mine as I passed by. My heart tore as he disappeared out of my vision. What a softie, right! (He did, however, text me at Mile 6 that there were food trucks at the finish line, possibly as a motivation tactic. As many who know me well already know, I will run/walk/dog sled my way to attach my mouth on any type of yumminess.)
The path got super tight again, so I took the opportunity to tear into a mini bag of Sour Patch Kids from Halloween oh a couple years ago. Thanks to massive amounts of preservatives, the stuff was still good and tasty. Yum!
Also: DH texted me to say that he saw a guy throw up. Strangely, this inspired me.
Thanks to the Sour Patch Kids, I got a nice little burst of energy at about the end of Mile 8.
Mile 10 was when things got a little crazy. I admit, I got a little excited when I realized I essentially had only a 5k left and turned up the speed. Aside from the faint ache of my hip (thank you endorphins for the pain relief!), everything just felt so darn good! I started passing people left and right (including all those who passed me earlier!) and really cranked it up at when someone at Mile 12 shouted "1 Mile Pace!" Funny thing though was that while I was pushing my speed towards the end of Mile 12, it felt like AGES to finally reach that Mile 13 marker. (Meanwhile, I was so tired and felt like joining that guy who threw up earlier) At this point, people wearing their shiny medals were clapping and yelling "Downhill around the corner! You are there!" Downhill to the finish line?! I never felt it. I squinted to the see the finish line and could not believe my eyes when I saw that I would come in at 2:07ish (gun time). Ignoring the soreness and tiredness, I reached deep down below to my most inner Pippa and bust through the finish with my arms up in the air screaming in ecstasy and relief (and looking like an idiot? we shall see when the pics are up). DH found me immediately and, boy he must love me because he didn't mind hugging my super sweaty (and smelly I'm sure!) self.
1) I looked like a rookie, but the hydration belt worked wonders. While people were stopping to get drinks, I used my perfected maneuver to reach behind me for my water bottle for a swig. This allowed me a) concentrate on dodging the Gatorade and cups people were dumping carelessly - COME ON PEOPLE! and b) run the race straight through
2) Staying in the moment and enjoying every minute. I go through phases when it comes to running with headphones, but I notice that when I get into longer distances, I cannot STAND having something in my ear, competing for my attention. If I feel like not being in the moment, I enjoy conducting self-introspection with soft, rhythmic orchestra of my rubber hitting the pavement and my breath beating in the background. Otherwise, running is a time where my mind can stay blank and I can take in everything around me. I feel that this really helped me concentrate on different tasks during the race (i.e. pacing myself). It also helped me tremendously in maneuvering around people.
3) Wearing too little clothes. People were looking at me in my lonely little crazy boat for wearing a tank top and shorts in 40-50 degree weather. Personally, I feel like running to keep warm is an excellent motivation to run faster! Whereas I was FREEZING in the first few miles, I was extremely comfortable by midrace. Until it started drizzling. But it stopped, so I'm still glad I wore what I wore.
4) Awesome pre-race breakfast. Holy moly it's been years since I've had a real non-wheat-or-anything-healthy bagel. I wish every morning was race day so I can eat this forever!
5) Did I mention that I was still blowing my nose every 2 minutes? Embarrassing, but thank goodness I practiced that sexy art during training.
POINTS TO WORK ON FOR MY NEXT HALF
... um, assuming there will be a next one?
1) STRENGTH TRAIN! My legs were tired, but so were my abs and back, thanks to like zero ST. (Bad!) For my next HM, I will concentrate on those two areas along with leg work.
2) SPEED TRAIN! Again, I barely did any speed training here (the little I did do was in November ... would that still count?). Getting to the sub-2 hour mark will be hard work, but I'm sure with proper time spent in ST + speed training, I can get this 32-year old body past that mark. What a gift that would be!
3) Figure out how to get through the crowd a little better at Mile 1.
I was one of the very few who did not run with ear buds in my ear, which made it a bit of a lonely experience. I mean, here I was, SO excited to be there so I turn to my right and see that the girl next to me is listening to Kanye West. I look behind me a little bit and this dude is also listening to his iPod. Look to my left and see all the same things. Everyone is in their own space, looking straight ahead and cocooned in their own little worlds, *missing* all the wonderful things that are going on. No wonder I pulled my phone out and started texting DH. Maybe a Rock n Roll half will change that for me.
Thank you thank you THANK YOU for reading my race report! I know it was a bit long, drawn out and detailed, but, you know, I accepted long ago that I am a strange, drawn-out, detailed bird indeed.
Have a great day, friends!
P.S. Will upload HM pics when they come out :)