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Half Marathon Race Report! (:

Monday, January 16, 2012

emoticonPRE-RACE emoticon

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.

emoticonPRE-RACE AM emoticon

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.

emoticonRACE emoticon

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)

*blink blink*

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

emoticonMILE 1:
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.

emoticonMILE 2:
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?)

emoticonMILE 3:
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!

emoticonMILES 4-6:
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.)

emoticonMILE 7:
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.

emoticonMILES 8-10:
Thanks to the Sour Patch Kids, I got a nice little burst of energy at about the end of Mile 8.

emoticonMILES 10-13.1:
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.

emoticonWHAT WORKED emoticon

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.

emoticonPOINTS TO WORK ON FOR MY NEXT HALF emoticon ... 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.

emoticonLAST THOUGHTS emoticon

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.

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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 :)
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • BREW99
    Wow! I feel like I was there with you. Thanks for the great run!
    2204 days ago
    You're SO inspiring lady! And HILARIOUS. You are the best writer and congratulations--I can't believe you RAN the entire time! I really enjoyed this post and the previous one and it reminded me about my goals and how we can get back to right where we left off if we're determined enough. The old 'fit' me feels a little far away but I know I can get back there and each day is a new day to make a small change. Thanks for reminding me of that. :) Here's to your next HM!!!!
    2205 days ago
    wowza! is all I can say......
    2207 days ago
    WOW you did awesome! and without music! I think music helps distract me so it's not as mentally draining. Great tips too! :) I need to get a hydration belt. I hardly ran during the summer because i was scared i'd pass out from dehydration! I can't believe you got the time you got with texting! you sooo crazay!
    2211 days ago
    I know you were feeling pretty bummed not knowing if you would be able to run your HM. I am glad you were able to and you pushed all the way through it. Congrats. That is a great achievement. I am so proud of you and you should be very proud of yourself. emoticon
    2216 days ago
  • PROT358
    Wow, so proud of you! You have overcome!
    2221 days ago
  • ELISA322
    You are SO funny! I loved reading your report. I hope by saying this I didn't make you cry, LOL.

    I give you props for running a HM that soon after vacation. I would not have made or done as well as you did, especially with the way I eat. Nice negative splits and amazing job running the entire time. I smell a sub-2 hour HM in your near future!

    We're too much alike, I am also motivated by food and when I found out there were going to be ginormous Costco muffins at the last HM I ran -- WATCH OUT PEOPLE!

    And that's great your husband ran a 5K too. Is that his first?
    2224 days ago
    I'm glad your back didn't hurt from not STing... this happened to me and I wasn't able to move for two days! WOW Annie, you did fantastic! Look at those times! I bet your DH IS so proud of you... lol on him texting you that there was food at the end of the race. "Annie... food once you finish!" So nice that he was there to see you run after his 5K. This experience made both you closer as a pair. I already checked the "I Liked This"... I am coming back to this blog in the future. Thanks for sharing!
    2226 days ago
    Annie ~ YOU ARE MY HERO!!!!!!
    I can't wait until I can finish a half that quick.
    As for running with music I prefer it when I am by myself. My favorite way to run is with someone else. I love sharing the experience with someone. Oh and next time you have to stand in the cold secret I learned from the people at the Disney HM. Trashbags. Some people kept their mylar blankets from previous races but the majority wore trashbags. Keeps you warm while waiting can rip it off just as you start. I personally would rather be cold.
    2227 days ago
    Thank you so much for posting this!!! It was so inspiring to read about your race :) I am training right now for a 10-mile run coming up in April and I am so nervous about not being ready. I've never really been a runner and I'm just starting to change my relationship with running after years of hating it, I now look forward to having me-time and long runs are very therapeutic for me instead of a punishment. However, the longest distance I have ever run is 4-miles and I did that this last weekend. I am so nervous about my upcoming race because there is a cut off time for people who take longer than 14:00 to complete each mile (similar to what you were talking about - they have sweeper vans come and pick the slow ones up and bring them to the finish line) and I'm a pretty slow runner. However, I am going to train as hard as I can between then and now and try and tack on miles each weekend to my long runs until I have worked up to about 9 miles or so before the race and then work on getting my times down so that I can finish the race as close to 2 hours as possible. Reading about your run makes me really excited to work up to something like this - if you had told me a few months ago that I would be working towards a long distance race, I would have told you that you were crazy. Now, I've run two 5K races and I'm working up to this 10-mile race. I just want you to know that it is people like you who give me the inspiration to just keep moving forward and who keep me believing that I have it in me to go faster and go further when my legs and heart are screaming to stop. I'm really proud of you for pushing yourself in this race - this is one of my favorite blogs to date. I'm in awe of your accomplishments and I can't wait until I am one day as talented as you are (one can dream, right?). Congratulations on your run and I can't wait to see all the pictures!! emoticon emoticon
    2227 days ago
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