This will be my second (feeble) attempt at blogging a race recap. My first time was fitting as it was about my first marathon. I have remembered so many things since from that race that, during the race I wanted to add to the blog, but didn’t recall when I was writing the post. I sat down after this race to jot down some notes, but I already know I will pale in comparison to my seasoned, more-wordy blogger friends. 🙂
I was up at the butt-crack of dawn (which is to say that I was up at my usual wake-up time) aka 4:45 AM. Luckily I had prepared my coffee the night before so all I had to do was hit the start button. (Yes, I have tried the timer and NO, I don’t use it. I just don’t trust myself to set it correctly.) So I started my coffee and while it was brewing, showered and got dressed. I was so worried that I was going to forget something even though I packed my bag the night before. I’m going to spoil it for you now and tell you that I did not get out of the house with everything I needed. The good news is that I only forgot 2 things. The bad news is that both those items were food/fuel-related. OK….back on track. So I got dressed and grabbed my first cup of coffee (fittingly out of the coffee cup my Twitter sole sister @karaokejennjenn sent me!) and finally started to wake up. As my English muffin was toasting, I checked my bag and set everything by the door. Then I
inhaled ate my usual breakfast of cinnamon raisin English muffin with peanut butter, honey and cinnamon. (This seriously makes me soooooo happy every morning!) At 5:45, I was out the door and had all my bags (and coffee!) in the car.
After a couple of “set-backs” en route, I arrived at the race with roughly 30 minutes to spare. Normally this would stress me out, but this time wasn’t as big of a big deal, since this race was such a small one anyway. However, I really needed to pee. So my first order of business (after pinning my bib on) was to find a port-a-potty. I was able to find a couple and got in line, only to have a race volunteer shoo us away because 2 of the 3 were out of toilet paper. (Looking back, it might have been best to drip dry in the paper-less potty.) We were sent down the hill to the main potty location, which also had a long line by this point.
When I had arrived, I texted my Twitter friend, Erica (@anotherhalfpls) because we were planning to meet up and celebrate Dara’s (@daralem) birthday with tacos and (my) cupcakes after the race. Would you believe that they arrived after I did, found a port-a-potty, used it and found me STILL in my potty line? By the time they found me, I had to pee so badly that my mouth was watering. Seriously it was nearing defcon 5! Luckily, I made it before I had an accident AND made it to the start with 5 minutes to spare (even if the 5 minutes was courtesy of a late race start ;).
The potty wasn’t my only pre-race problem, though. I had intended to grab a banana at the house to eat just before the race, since it would be almost 3 hours since eating breakfast by the time the race started. Sadly, I did not remember the banana (the first of 2 forgotten food items), so I was basically starving at this point! But, oh well. Couldn’t change anything, so I decided I wouldn’t stress over it (SOOOOO not me). PLUS,
when if things went awry, I would have a great excuse because everyone knows improper fueling can derail a race!
This was the inaugural running of the Skyline Half Marathon. It was a small race put on by Run Project in the Dallas area. There were around 850 runners total, with roughly 350 of those running the half marathon. Even though this was a small race, the numbers seemed high for the trails that we ran beneath the bridge. The start was crowded and it seemed to take well over a mile before the crowds started to thin.
My partner was running the race with me to pace me so that I didn’t run lights out until I passed out on the sidewalk (don’t laugh – it could have happened). Seriously, though, he has come to know me very well and knows that I wouldn’t have been able to resist the urge to run full-throttle from the start, which could have led me right back into another injury. As I stated last week, this was to be executed as a “training” run, although I knew from the start we would run a bit faster than our usual slower-than-a-turtle long slow run pace. He had told me that the first 10 miles would be run around 11:15, with us increasing speed the last 3 miles to 10:30 or so. (Please know that I protested this in full-blown toddler tantrum mode, even though these paces were much faster than our turtle long slow runs.)
For those of you who have the Garmin Forerunner 620 and have always wondered what the “Race” activity profile does, you’re in luck because I used that profile. If you are someone who runs a race purely on “feel”, then this setting will work for you, as the only thing displayed is distance and time. (You will get the usual mile split notification on each mile.) If you are like me and look down at your watch only to realize you’re going 1:30 faster than you thought/should….this is not the profile you should use on race day. At race start, I wasn’t too concerned about this, since I wasn’t to worry about pace anyway….that was the partner’s job. LOL
Mile 1 came in at 11:16, much to my dismay after he had announced that we had gone out too fast and rattled off a 10:45 pace (I had gotten a bit excited that he was going to let us run faster than planned). Of course, he is nothing, if not steady and our next 4 miles came in around 11:20-11:35 – all slower than I wanted, but he assured me it was well within his race plan, within his “fudge factor” as he called it. My legs felt really fresh and everything felt so good. I was able to get into a good groove early on and even tried to run off and leave him several times (not on purpose…just me in my ‘zone’)…until he asked where I was going. I reminded him that the rope around my waist might have been a good idea. Around mile 5, he told me that he was going to cut me loose at mile 7. I seriously nearly screamed. (I have a feeling this may have been his plan all along. I’m glad that he waited to tell me, though!) I was sooooo excited! I found it hard to contain my excitement and still kept trying to motor off. I was feeling so strong at this point. However, in the back of my head, I wondered what the second half would bring because of the second food item I had forgotten at home: my gel.
When our watches alerted us to mile 7, my partner told me to go run my race, that he knew I was ready and I would do great. And as I ran ahead of him, he reminded me not to run it as hard as I could and to try to hold myself back a little. Mile 8 came in at 10:30, roughly 1:00 faster than our previous miles. I spent some time trying to get into a rhythm without running full-out. I wanted to post negative splits, but I knew that I needed some extra strategy to navigate those end-of-race miles without any fuel. I’ve never run that far without fueling and my breakfast had been sooooo long ago. Mile 9 came in at 10:52. I’m not quite sure what happened to cause that, because even though I made all these mental notes during the race…..I can’t remember! I’m sure it was ALL due to lack of fuel. LOL!!! I did realize after mile 9 that I needed to start accelerating my pace. Mile 10 came in at 10:02 and at this point, I was around the 1:50 mark and knew that I would really have to push it to finish before 2:30. (A slower than 2:30 finish was really bugging me. I just didn’t think I could live with that.) At the mile 10 water stop, I decided I should probably drink Gatorade to give me something resembling fuel. I didn’t chase it with water, however, and pushing the pace, along with the blazing heat caused me do develop some nausea. I’m certain it had NOTHING to do with the big-ass bridge I had just climbed in the blazing sun. (For the record, I still LOVE hills….and I won against that bridge!) I kept pushing, though, and miles 11-13 came in at 9:53, 9:40, 9:47. I could tell the heat and lack of fuel were taking a toll because I could feel my quads and was starting to feel a little fatigued. There were 2 more water stations and I walked through both of those, but this time I chased the Gatorade with water. It was just enough to keep me going. Miles 12-13 were brutally hot and it wasn’t made any better from the way I was pushing myself. However, I still felt SO STRONG! I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t had any issues at all, and I began to realize that I could finish the race in a good physical and mental state. The last .10 came in at 9:16 pace, but that was an easy push as I was under the bridge and in the shade by that point. My official finish was 2:23:50, which is almost 8 minutes off my half marathon PR of 2:14:00 (which isn’t to be confused with my training PB of 2:04 :). I’ll gladly take it, though, because the run was amazing!
Every race teaches some lessons and this one is no different.
First and foremost, this race gave me back my confidence and swagger. That may sound funny to a lot of you, but I am completely serious. My spirit was almost broken with that ITB injury and I didn’t trust my body. I still didn’t fully trust my body coming into this race, even with some of the amazing strides that I had made during training. I owe all of that to my partner and coach. Without his guidance to train smart, I can almost guarantee I would be injured again. I appreciate his help so very much.
Second, Jen shouldn’t use the race profile on her Garmin. I need to be able to adjust my pace more often than every mile and I felt like I was running blind when I was finally cut loose on my own. Until I gain the experience to know the feel of each pace, I need to keep my watch out of race mode!
We walked through every water stop. My partner is a big believer in this and I just shook my head at him. However, it was WAY better than carrying my own water and it really didn’t affect my time. I really enjoyed not having all that “stuff” to carry.
This was my first race without music. I haven’t run with music since my partner and I started running together in March, so this is the farthest distance I’ve gone without it. I really don’t miss it at all anymore, and I can even handle solo runs without it. I do think that it is helping me listen to my body and stay more in touch with myself during the run.
This isn’t really a “lesson”, but I MUST work on my mental game during races. On the races where the course loops back around, I have difficult time dealing with seeing the other runners passing by the other way. It just seems like I will NEVER get to the turn-around point and in this race, there were two!!
Post-Race Party Time!
Personally, I was disappointed with the post-race support provided by the race organizers. There was a water station just past the finish line, but then runners were herded up to street level to get medals. So up to street level we went. There was a tent with breakfast burritos and bananas….but NO WATER! So of course we headed over to the beer tent and tried out a new lager that a local brewery was sampling. Lakewood Brewery out of Garland was giving away their newest brew, Lakewood Lager. I’m not a big beer drinker, but it was decent and it was wet and cold. Wet and cold met all the specifications I needed in a beverage at that point. After the beer, I headed to change clothes and meet Erica and Dara after their finish.
Erica, Dara and I were planning to meet another Twitter friend, Maegen (@MtotheG7) at Rusty’s Tacos in Plano to celebrate Dara’s birthday and our completion of the race. Erica was in rare form, still angry at Mother Nature for blessing us with another blazing hot race day and causing her face to be ‘white with salt’. (STILL laughing over that remark) (She had melted in Plano Balloon Half last Fall and I think she still has flashbacks of how terrible it was.) This was my first time to eat at Rusty’s and I was not disappointed. I am Texan, after all, and ALWAYS game for street tacos. I was SO HUNGRY that I almost forgot to take a pic!!
Have I mentioned how much I love making cupcakes?
And now, two days post race, I am feeling FABULOUS!! I have zero soreness in my muscles and minimal tightness. I even ran an easy 30 min this morning and it felt amazing!! The race was a win all the way around!
Have a terrific Tuesday!