Day 351: Decker's Creek Half Marathon Recap

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

So, I ran Decker's Creek Half Marathon this past Saturday. I feel I need to build up to my feelings on this race.

First off, the amount of training I'd done prior, especially in relationship to the amount of training I did before Boston Trail or the Pittsburgh Half was absolutely abysmal. Seriously. I was running 3-5 miles at tops 3-4 days a week. I was lazy. I just didn't have my mojo. I was coasting after the Pittsburgh Half - which was what my goal was. I had no idea what I intended to do after it except for run a full marathon six months later.

So, in short, I fell off the wagon. I especially fell off in terms of my own personal motivation level. "Where there is no vision, the people parish." Well, that's true about running motivation. If you don't know what you're working for (at least in my case) it's verrrry hard to keep yourself pumped to work as hard as you should.

Alright, now that you have context...

The trip started at an extremely early 5AM. The night before I wound up needing to bring home work, so after two hours of plugging away for teh-man it was time to gather up my gear. Let me tell you, I hadn't touched any of my gear since the Pittsburgh Half. Not my SpiBelt, not my iPod, nada. I was running around my house gathering things for all of an hour. It was bad. So, I got to bed around midnight.

Up and at 'em at 4:15 and I'm trying to pull the last few odds and ends. By the time I left the house I had everything (thank goodness); but, I had already started the day on a frazzled note. The best thing that happened was that I got to carpool with a friend of mine from the running club who listens to positive, low-key music. It was the best thing ever. The banana-chocolate Odwalla smoothie we tried was not the best thing ever, unfortunately.

We make it to where we're going for about 6:30. After checking in, getting out goodie bags and posing for a group shot with the rest of the club that was there it was time to get bused to the starting line. I'm telling you, it was the longest bus-ride ever and made me wonder if I had signed up for a marathon instead of a half. Still, we get there and it's just about go-time.

Fortunately, I didn't hang around at the portapotties, I just went right up to the start line. It was a good choice because there was some confusion with people getting stuck back with the line there and not getting up to the starting mats. I got all the pre-race nerves out with a deep breath and I was off. I felt pretty good. Around mile 3 I stopped to stretch. However, long before that I came to a rather uncomfortable realization: My GPS watch was about .3 of a mile off. What a pain.

Let me tell you something - I'm not usually a fan of trail races because you're totally alone with your thoughts. Well, if you're someone who tends to be between pace groups like me you are anyway. That means you spend a lot of time communing with nature. Oh, look, trees! Oh, look, isn't the creek beautiful! Oh, doesn't my iPod just know the perfect song to play to compliment my surroundings? It can be quite a head game for me. I feed off of other people's energy when I run so to do it alone is really difficult.

Around mile 4 the attack of the horseflies started. My gosh! There were buzzing my head! They were landing in my ears! It was terrible! I really must have entertained the people behind me because there was more than one occaission where I was flailing like a crazy person.

So, I'm plugging along, in good spirits. I have to say I felt good. I was good to my body - stopping every couple miles to stretch out the hips and listening to what it was telling me. I also tried to be good to the runners around me. I wanted to be positive. So, I tried not to complain about the heat or the bugs or the inconsistent water stations while we were out there. I really wanted to focus on the beautiful trail and how good it was going to feel to finish the race.

The race, by the way, was mostly downhill. It would have been a GREAT opportunity the PR if not for the heat, I'm sure. And it was hot.

Around mile 10-11 I came upon one of my fellow SCRRC runners who was struggling. I felt terrible! I mean, we've all been there. We've all fallen apart during a race. Sometimes it's physical, sometimes it's mental, sometimes it's both. It's so hard to do do those runs all alone - and I couldn't just leave her there. So, I hung back with her. I kept moving as best I could at her pace. I tried to distract her with ridiculous commentary on music and Doctor Who. I just knew that if the situation were reversed I would want someone with me.

Around mile 12 we were intercepted. One of the club members came down just to cheer. Seriously. driving an hour and a half for a race to just go cheer at it. He came running out to get us. He came with smiles and good energy. It was awesome. It was then I had to leave my friend. I knew he'd come back for her once he got me in. So, for that last mile I tried to push hard. I honestly started worrying about puking. It was so hot and it was terrible. Still, I looked at my watch and all I could think was "PR." I wanted that Personal Record. I had three minutes to finish my last of the race.

Around the last bend were the SCRRC'ers. They were cheering and so full of energy! I couldn't run as hard as I would like, in fact I was on E when I got to them; but, I certainly needed that push to finish as strong as I could.

When I got under the clock it said something like 3:18.

I wanted to cry.

I finished; but, I didn't understand - how could it be 3:18??

I turned off my watch without looking at it and concentrated on being there to cheer on the rest of the runners as they finished. I wanted to give some of the spirit back that I'd been so lucky to share.

As it turns out, everyone had a pretty rough race. Around mile 9/10 was when the sun really started to beat down for most people. It was also where most of the trees went away on the course and where crushed limestone turned into cement. Lots of people had their wheels fall off there. It also seemed like nobody did quite as well as they had planned to - which made me feel a little better. I was glad to know that I wasn't the only one who struggled on what was supposed to be an easy course. Man, I can imagine that it would have been a nice, simple run had the temperature stayed around 70; but, by the end of the race I'm sure it was closer to 80-something. Also, the sunburn on my back speaks volumes.

So, I get home and I check my watch time. 2:52:21. One second longer than Pittsburgh. Just one. And I know I started my watch before I hit the start mat and after; so, I'm trusting my watch over what that clock said. (Which, for the curious, my 'official' time for this race was 2:59:47)

I'm so happy with that result. So very, very happy.

I went on Monday and got my muscles beaten by my massage therapist and I'm glad to say I can walk normally again. I even went for a 18 mile bike ride yesterday. I am also down to 185.6 which is my pre-Memorial-Day-Fiasco weight. Everything feels like it's coming together.

So, the plan for tonight is a rest! I had the half on Saturday, and a long bike ride on Tuesday. I have another long ride planned for Thursday. I have my first Mud Run on Saturday. It's a 5K; but, I'm sure the obstacles will be one hell of a challenge for me. They have an eight food climbing wall. I won't even climb on top of chairs. I plan on giving in to peer pressure and doing it. Recap to follow.

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  • 1EMMA2011
    Great job, thank you very much for the inspiration!

    2330 days ago
    I have a lot of friends who do the Mud Run and they say it's a blast. My goal is to do it next year. Like you said, it's so important ot have a goal, something to aim for. My last race was in October (the Zombie RUn, 5k). I worked so hard to prepare for that race but I hadn't signed up for any races after that so my running routine declined. I actually stopped running from the end of January to May. I'm looking for races now to keep myself motivated. The one I'm looking at is a trail race. Like you, I'm worried about the horseflies, but the views will be amazing!

    Congrats on running a good race. That truly is awesome. We're about the same weight and you're doing so much more than I am. It's encouraging for me to see that success. Thanks!

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    2330 days ago
    So well done! An awesome result.

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    2330 days ago
    whew what a race! yeah it was stinkin hot on saturday around here too (I was in the middle of New Jersey for a camping event, I don't even know how many gallons of water I drank that day, but it was definitely more than one) and horse flies are terrible in any context.

    But the community spirit sounds amazing and so does the rest of the week's plan - good luck with the obstacles, I won't agree to do the mud runs around here because I am much too afraid of heights to climb anything, if I even made it to the top I'd probably end up sitting there for 5 minutes trying to work up the courage to jump down lol
    2330 days ago
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