It may look like I'm going slow but I'm just getting started.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Women's Half Marathon Race Report

I know it's been a good long while since I've posted. I've just been so busy running (and stuff). My first run/walk/run half marathon is now behind me. I walked PF Chang's half a couple years ago so this technically wasn't my first half, just my first half with any running beyond that at the finish line! I have learned so much since then and I know I'm in much better shape. So sit back and enjoy the mile by mile recap. OK, I would never do that to you. Just a general recap then. Based on what I can remember before race amnesia sets in.

Our goal going in was to run 2/1 intervals for the first 6 miles and then switch to 3/1. This did not work out so well but still living and learning here. We had an approximate time goal of "less than 3 hours." We had been doing our long runs about a 13 minute mile pace but gradually sped up to about a 12.50 pace. We certainly did not push ourselves during long runs. Our shorter runs were about 12. 30 to 12.45. So we didn't set an overly ambitious goal. I honestly did not know if we could maintain a 12.30 pace over 13 miles. We just set out to finish smiling.

Race morning we enlisted my (wonderful) husband to drop us off at the start so we didn't have to mess with the bus from the finish line nonsense. We even made a bathroom stop at McDonald's (smartest move of the whole day!) We started in corral 4 behind the 3 hour pace team. We probably should have moved up at this point but I don't think we were giving ourselves enough credit. The race started and we had to dodge walkers for awhile before settling in. Our first mile split was amazingly 12.30 despite the weaving. The field opened up and we settled in. The first 8 miles went pretty smoothly, in spite of some really nasty hills not mentioned on the "fast, downhill course" race website. I don't know if you have hills where you live. I do not. It is FLAT, like Kansas. So the hills were like someone hitching a ride on my back with their arms around my neck. I seriously began to wonder if I had exercise induced asthma because I was sucking wind. The hills took a little of the spirit out of our game plan, as did passing the finishers on the other side of the road while we were only on mile 8. Psychologically disheartening to say the least.

We started really slipping at mile 9 and the downhill slide continued to the finish. Before that point we had been running at an average pace of 12 minute miles. And I'm sure you can go faster but for me that's the pace I was doing before when I was running the whole time. So I was nothing but excited. From mile 10 on it was a long hard slog. 3 miles seems so short considering you've already gone 10; but those 3 miles were the longest of my life. It's sort of like watching "Man Versus Food." (Just go with it). I always get mad at Adam if he gives up with like 5 bites left because really, he's already eaten some 5 pounds of ribs or something. But now I totally understand. At some point your body starts to rebel and you cannot force it to take one more bite or run "swiftly." I knew I needed another Gu but I could not stomach the thought. Finally I added some non-Nuun flavored water to my bottle and just took the Gu already. That seemed to help a lot and while the last three miles were no frolic in the park, we made it. Eventually we settled on 1/1 intervals and reached the sweet, sweet finish line in 2.43.48. Now let me just tell you the pissy thing about our finish. Garmin said we did 13.34 in 2.43, which makes our average lower than 12.30. I know the weaving at the start added some distance but I heard from at least two competent runners that their Garmin said 13.21. So I'm going with my distance. So there Women's Half Marathon!

Overall it was a great experience. I felt so much better finishing this than I did walking PF Chang's. Nutrition and being in better shape really helped with that. I even had an ice bath upon my return home AND a massage. I know, I'm a lucky, lucky girl. My legs are a little sore. The stairs in our house are accursed and sitting down is not delightful. But I am so ready to get back out there and see if I can sustain a faster pace. I am so not going to quit running now. I finally feel like exercise is a part of my life and not just something I'm doing to lose weight or finish an event.

I know run/walk/run has some critics:

"Run/walking isn't really running"
"You could run the whole time if you really wanted to"
"You would go faster if you ran the whole time"

To this I say (in addition to some cursing and eye rolling and "oh yeah, when did you complete your last half marathon? Oh that's right, you haven't"):
Run/walk/run is almost solely responsible for my getting to the starting line and the finish line. I know I could run at least 5K at this point and after PF Chang's I'm going to start running shorter distance runs, but for right now I'm sticking with Jeff Galloway. I really like knowing I only need to focus on 2 or 3 minutes at a time. I like seeing my pace slowly get faster. I ran/walked 2 miles with an 11.22 pace the other day. I like not feeling like total crap after my long runs. I like not being injured (knock on wood). In short, I can see using the run/walk/run indefinitely for long runs. During the race we noticed we were pacing several ladies who ran the whole time. And it is sooooo much easier to get Gu down during a walk break!



    Screw the critics. They usually fall into two categories- people who are commenting from the couch they are riding, or people who have been running their whole lives and forget what it is like to still be base-building.

    I am so proud of you!!!

    Are you going to wear your medal to work? :D

  2. Love this entry:-) The race was a lot of fun, despite the "uphills" we all encountered...who knew that those darn overpasses were so hilly!

    And, Amen to your comments regarding the run/walk critics. Let them be injured and more sore! I'll take my run/walks anyday! :-)

    Congrats again on the great finish!

  3. Kristi:

    Thanks for the support.It's awesome to know people are out there sending good vibes my way (great, now I sound like my mom!) And I am currently at home (though in grad school) so I guess I could wear my medal to parent pick up? Would that be weird?

    Kathleen: Thanks for your comment. You are a speed demon and should be so proud! Hope to pass you (as you're almost finished and I'm only half done) at PF Chang's.