Monday, October 15, 2012

Girlfriends Race Recap

Yesterday was just not my day. It started out well and I was on track for at least a 2 minute PR but somewhere in mile 9 I started feeling gut cramps and by mile 11 I was in line for a port-o-potty. I was in/out pretty quick (2 minutes) and tried to make up for it at first but then a couple smaller hills came my way and I just was done. Mentally, done.

The morning was a little warmer than I would have liked, but thankfully the rain held off for us. It was about 58F to start and a gray Portland Vancouver day, but the humidity was really high. A good portion of this course took us by the Columbia and the wind was a nice reprieve as I was sweating buckets.

I met up with a friend from Dailymile, Christina, and she met up with her friend, Jolene - also from DM. We took a quick group picture before the race. Christina wasn't racing because of tendonitis in her foot/ankle area but she came out to cheer us on, which was super awesome.

Myself, Christina and Jolene

Usually it takes me a good 3 miles to warm up when I'm racing or going for a long run. Almost all of my half's follow the same pattern. The first 3 miles I am feeling like I went out too fast (even if I didn't) and low-energy. My feet feel heavy and my body tries to barter with my mind. I begin telling myself that it's okay if I slow down or walk, it's just not my day or my race. I sometimes think about quitting. Somewhere around mile 4 though I start to snap out of it. I'm alive and in the groove. The race is enjoyable, my breathing is controlled, posture and form is on point and I feel I could run for hours. It's a magic light switch. It wasn't until later this season that I recognized this pattern and that it happens to me like clockwork every. single. time. I'm not sure why it took me that long to figure out but it's made a huge difference. Now I can I mentally prepare for that hurdle and tell myself that once I hit mile 4 I know I'll feel 10 times better than I do right now at mile 2. And I do.

The weird thing about yesterday was that I didn't have any early mile hurdles in the way of mental barriers. It's possible though that I just didn't have time to think much about them as this race was packed. I spent the first 4 miles passing people left and right. There was a lot of weaving, which is such an energy sap. Frankly, I'm amazed at how consistent my pace was despite this annoyance. There either needs to be a tighter cap on this course or a more organized corral start. 2,500 is simply too many for where we were running.

They tried to start us in 4 corrals based on pace. This was a nice gesture, but it seemed like more people took this as a suggestion as I encountered a ton of walkers in the first mile. Some were walking 4 abroad and wouldn't move. I yelled at a group because I was really irritated that they were obviously walking the race and ignored the pace corrals. It wouldn't have been as much of an issue if they didn't block half of the road. In retrospect I was pretty mean about it but I did try to say "excuse me" first and they ignored it. Runners/Walkers, please be aware of your surroundings! Learn race etiquette!

I caught up to someone who had run in the Get Fit Live Fit training group with me. I wish I could remember her name, but she was always really nice. We chatted for a few minutes, I told her about my plans for the marathon and off I went! We passed each other on an out and back around mile 5 (for me) and she cheered me on. It was a nice boost.

Around mile 3 there was a girl who became my race buddy. I never got her name, but I heard people cheering on a Karen, so I think that may have been her. She came up to me and said she was following the girl in the green skirt, me, for awhile and asked if she could stick with me as I was running a good pace. It was nice to have someone to chat with a little but I lost her somewhere a little after mile 7. This was her 5th year running Girlfriends and her last time was 2:15, so I'm going to guess even though she fell behind, she took home a shiny new personal record! I wish I had seen her after the race as even though she was keeping up to me, she kind of kept me going too.

One thing I noticed was just how sore my arms were. I went bouldering the day before but used my arms a lot more than usual since I didn't want to tire my legs. What a crappy idea! You know how you use your arms for propulsion while running? Well, when they are tired it makes it really tough to run. Especially up hills. I've never been more aware of my arms yesterday as I was in my entire life. Shaking them out didn't really help and I had to keep stretching my fingers so I wouldn't tense my fists (as I accidentally sometimes do) since that made it worse. Lesson learned; that was an incredibly awful feeling.

Besides that though my splits were amazingly consistent for the first 8 miles.

Miles 1 - 8: 9:51 / 9:49 / 9:48 / 9:48 / 9:48 / 9:49 / 9:48 / 9:48

I was aiming for a pace below 9:50. For a 2:10 half (my goal) the avg pace needs to be 9:55. I knew there were a few hills at the end of this race so I figured I'd make up a few seconds ahead of time as I'd likely slow a little on the hills.

Mile 9 came about and I slowed a bit. I remember drinking some poorly mixed Gatorade (extra strong) and when it hit my stomach I felt sick. I started thinking about finding a bathroom but thought I could push on. I knew the culprit was my midnight snack of pita and Lebanese food. Syrupy Gatorade didn't help. I try to eat light the night before and never much after 7pm, but I couldn't sleep, was hungry and broke my rules. Mile 10 came and went and it felt like the longest darn mile I ran. I walked up a pretty measly hill and found a bathroom around mile 11.

Miles 9 - 11: 9:58 / 10:21 / 11:18

I felt better after the BR break and a couple cups of water, but knew I had already threw my PR. Well, not entirely. I could have hit it if I wanted to nail two sub 10's the last couple miles. That wasn't going to happen. My brain said, forget it, and I kept on but walked 1/2 of the last hill at mile 12. As I eased into the finish and the last mile I surged ahead and fed off of the crowd. I also made passing people into a game to occupy myself and keep my mind off my gut and super tired arms. More people passing. Was this ever going to end?? I am not fast but it felt like I was passing people the whole darn race. TOO CROWDED.

Mile 12 & 13: 11:01 / 10:28

My watch buzzed for the 13th mile right before the finish. Was the course short or was it just all of the tight out & back turns? Those throw off GPS a bit. Maybe a combination of both?

I finished the race in a respectable 2:11:41, which is only 26 seconds later than my PR time. It's not that I wasn't thrilled with this time, but I knew I could have done better. I don't really like to blame the bathroom break but ah, that is life. It wasn't really the bathroom break anyway. I think I could have kept going if I wanted to. There were a few other reasons why this just wasn't my race but it's not worth spewing about on my blog. Funny how when you mentally just aren't into something that it's so much easier to just throw your hands up and say "oh well!"

At the end I really started to think about the Marathon and how excited I am for that. I am two weeks out and on my second taper week. Last week wasn't tough because of the race. There was some back and forth on whether I'd try to shoot for a PR yesterday, but I decided to just see what I could do. The marathon is going to be tough no matter what. After yesterday's race I got home and ran about 3 miles for a total of 16 yesterday. It wasn't exactly the same as a straight shot of 16, but my HM pace is over a minute faster than my marathon pace, so it was actually really tough, especially to get going. Splits: 10:59 / 10:58 / 10:32 for the final push (.77).

The interesting thing I've noticed is that most people's time difference between their half marathon and marathon pace is closer to 30 or 40 seconds. Maybe I'm on the safe side with mine, but I'm sticking with what I trained with this season. It's incredibly likely that due to the tough marathon course and normal drag that hits at mile 20+ that my average will be well above this. I'll race as smart as I can and enjoy myself. That's my goal!

They unveiled the handmade finisher medal for the marathon today, isn't it beautiful?

Next up I'll talk a bit about my plan for the next two weeks! Finally I will leave you with one more photo, as no race is complete without a thumbs-up grinning photo of me. This has kind of become a cheesy trademark. Tada!

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