Thursday, July 5, 2012

Foot Traffic Flat - Sauvie Island Recap (pictures!)

Yesterday, thanks to my mom, I ran the Foot Traffic Flat Half Martahon on Sauvie Island. Even though the island is only a 15 minute drive and boasts many U-pick berry farms in the Summer and an infamous corn maze and pumpkins in the Fall, I had never been out that way. Sauvie Island is indeed an island, just a little bit North of Portland and consists mainly of farmland and a select few residential homes. Living on Sauvie Island would probably be pretty awesome!

The race started really early. Like, I had to wake up at 4am early in order to leave my house in time. Even though it was a short drive I took heed about the warnings about how important it was to get there much earlier than the race page suggested. Their website said to arrive at the bridge at least 45 minutes before the race (6am), but a lot of race veterans recommended arriving by 5:15. Even though the race was capped at 3,000 participants and they offered a shuttle bus for 1,000 (sold out) apparently traffic gets backed up to the bridge pretty fast. The bridge is 2 miles away from the start of the race. I arrived at 5:20, crossed the bridge just fine and only hit minimal traffic about 1/4 mile out from the Pumpkin Patch, where the race started. About 10 minutes later I looked back and saw cars for at least a mile - yikes.

The sun was just starting to come up when I arrived, but you could still see the moon about to set over the west hills. I was in a really good mood and took a lot of pictures because I was excited.

Here is a pretty picture of the moon I captured after I arrived.

I cropped out the 20 port-o-potties right below the sunrise to make this photo look a little more glamorous. The sunrise was pretty spectacular!

As the sun came up I took a few more pictures of the moon and the pumpkin patch area. Roosters started crowing and I could hear animals but I wasn't sure where they were. It was pretty chilly so I headed inside a barn and well.. yeah, I found the animals! I spent the next 20 minutes trying to get a perfect picture of Smorsey the bunny (easy) then Skippy and Stubby the goats (not so easy). I love goats. I want goats someday.

I don't for sure which goat is which - but I kind of think the first picture is of Skippy because he was jumping around everywhere and was certainly the hardest to capture.

It was at this point that I remembered I was at a race and should probably take pictures of race stuff, or at least have someone take a picture of me. I found someone who looked nice and she took my picture. This is the outfit I was excited about running in on Saturday for my taper run. I loved the shirt so much that I did my laundry on Sunday and planned to wear it again for this race. I also really like this skirt even though the shorts aren't built-in and I have to wear a pair of my own. Happy bright colors was my theme!

I was pretty excited because the Brooks bus was at this race. I run in a pair of Brooks shoes and that orange shirt was also a Brooks shirt. They had a raffle and everyone won a prize. I was hoping that I would get lucky and win something more phenomenal than a sweat towel. (I won sunglasses)

Here is a picture of the Brooks Bus! After the barn I stood inside the bus trying to stay warm (it was pretty chilly - about 50 degrees) and chatted with some people with the same idea as me.

I met a guy who was running the marathon that had an unfamiliar accent. He found me after the race while I was looking at the results to see how I did and it made me feel good that he remembered me! Turns out he smoked the course and ended up with a sub-3 hour marathon! Some people are just amazing.

Alright, I bet you really want to know how I did, huh? Well, I kicked some butt too! I beat my previous time by over 12 minutes and I finished in 2 hours 19 minutes and 32 seconds.

This is a huge testament to just how hard I've been training these past 6 weeks. Just a month ago, at the Moonlight 5, I ran my first consecutive 5 miles without any walk breaks. Yesterday I ran my first 12.5 miles without a walk break. I was SO close to running the whole race but I'll get there. The direct sun warmed up the course really fast and I needed the 2 minute walk to drink some water before the final hurrah/sprint to the end.

My pace also was pretty amazing. I ran a fairly solid 10 minute pace at the Moonlight 5 and for this race the average pace on my watch was 10:36. Not bad for tacking on 8 more miles! Only the last mile was over 11 minutes, all the rest ranged from 10:20 - 10:45.

I had decided to run with the 11 minute pacer and then break out on the last 4 miles if I had the energy. It turned out that the pacers were a bit more incognito than usual, so I was the only one running with the 11 minute girl. She told me that she usually runs about 30 seconds faster (or more) and after a few miles I told her that we could sustain our faster pace because it felt really comfortable.

Along the route I kept noticing a camera crew and people in suits and ties driving around in a fancy car. I had heard the announcer before our race tell us that someone was trying to set the world record for skipping a half marathon but I didn't think I'd ever see the skipper. Well, I did! It was kind of exciting at first but this was at mile 10 and about where I started to picture the end and how great it would be to eat endless amounts of strawberry shortcake to get through the last 3 miles of heat. It's not easy to lose yourself in thought when someone is skipping.

The most annoying part about the skipper though was that he stopped to change his shoes and the second pair was even louder! He also didn't stop at aid stations so we would run past him and then I'd slow down to grab water, throw 1/2 of the cup down the hatch and then use all of my energy to try and sprint past the skipper and catch up to Jen (the pacer). Finally, after what felt like a really long time he passed us and skipped his merry way to the end. His time was 2:27. Even though I crossed the finish after him, Jen and I started 11 minutes after the gun time because she was waiting for the restroom - so our unfortunate run in with the skipper was just bad timing. I don't think she was annoyed like me though. I expressed my frustration internally and still made sure to smile and give big thumbs up for all the cameras!

Aundria and Sequoia came out to cheer me on at the finish. It was so nice to see them! She was able to take a picture of me right as I crossed the finish and you can tell by my expression that I was giving it my all! It is not a flattering picture, but I don't take flattering running pictures. Only skinny people do. At that point I had been sprinting for the past 200 meters and even though I walked for 2 minutes I made up for it because I only finished 1 minute after Jen.

Here is another picture that Aundria took immediately after I finished. I was a mixture of super excited, dripping sweat and catching my breath. It was a good moment though.

I grabbed a water, went to sit in the shade and recover. A few minutes later I got up to collect my medal (I almost forgot!) and eat some amazing strawberry shortcake. Aundria and Koi had to go but not before they took one last picture of me sporting my well-deserved strawberry medal!

What a day! I had an amazing time and it was such a confidence booster for myself to run this race and finish with such a huge time improvement. Considering I only had two long runs (9 and 11.8) miles around an average 11:30 pace before this race, I am amazed at just how much the body is capable of when there is adrenaline and mental support (thanks to Jen!) involved. I have no doubt in my mind that I will meet my goal time by the end of the 20 weeks and maybe I will even smoke it! I'm only 9 1/2 minutes away -- I know I can do it!

I know this is getting long but I wanted to include the email from my coach I received after I wrote him about how I did. I also thanked him for being such a huge motivational factor as well as guidance - because really, while I know I'm doing all the "work" this program has been so positive for me. Gosh, I'm tearing up a little. He wrote me back and said,

"That is freakin AWESOME!!!!

Thanks so much for the note, super pumped for you...Don't ever forget that you are the one putting in all the work! I have nothing to do with this, all you lady! Congrats, looking forward to your continued success :)"

I keep saying this but support is huge for me. Thanks to everyone for sharing any of this journey with me. I'm excited to get back to my normal training and I know that this race was a huge confidence booster and probably what I needed to get past some of the mental blocks I have been having. I hope everyone had a really great (safe) 4th of July!!

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