Monday, April 8, 2013

SLO Half Marathon

I had an amaaaaaaazing half marathon. The day before the race I was a little anxious. I went on a super short run in the morning to shake things out. (and to see what it feels like to run in the morning...-___-)

I didn't get to bed as early as I wanted to. But I've heard that the night before the race isn't as important as the night before the night before the race. I don't know if that's true, but I consoled myself with that thought. I laid out all my gear so I wouldn't have to think in the morning. On top of the race, that day was also a holiday at my church and I had a shift at the hospital after that. I had a lot of crap to haul around with me.

My gear. I'm not very good at matching. Don't judge.

I was pretty excited for this race for a few reasons. I'm local so I didn't have to worry about parking/shuttles/bag check/getting lost. My lovely mother dropped me off and kept my 18 tons of stuff I needed for the day. Clif provided gels along the course. While I am not super picky about my fuel, Clif Shots are tied for first place in my book.

They're actually purple. But they look kinda blue here. Ignore my obese knees.

I got some compression socks at the Pro Compression booth at the expo. I was attempting to stalk Skinny Runner wanted to get some socks because I would be on my feet for several hours at the hospital after the race and that didn't really sound like much fun. I thought maybe if I squeeze the blood out of my legs, it would make it to my brain and I might be a functional human being the rest of the day.

Race day. I wasn't anxious at all. I ate my breakfast like a champ. (Toast and a banana is the winning combo for me. Sometimes the bread can be hard to get down but once it's down, it's down.)

At the starting line. The party is in the back, right??

I wanted to stay with a pace group because I'm still not very good at pacing myself. True to form, all of my runs leading up to this race have been at very inconsistent paces, so I was a little unsure of what pace group to go with. The optimist and the conservative parts of me were at war. Eventually the conservative half one and I stuck with the 2:30 pace group. (instead of the 2:15 group, which would have been rad if I could have pulled that off)

I loved loved loved this course. Hilly, yes. But amaze-balls nonetheless. Running through downtown that early in the morning was so fun. These are streets that I have explored many times, but that early in the morning, in the middle of the street, with no one else (except a bunch of other crazy runners) around was way. too. much. fun. After a mile, it hit me how amazing of an idea pace groups are. I don't have to worry anything. I can just follow the pacers, let them deal with the math, and look around at everything and everyone.

At the first big hill (which was really one big incline followed by two or three more rolling hills), I tried my very very best to stay with the pacers. I started to worry that I would burn myself out trying to stay with them. But for some reason, I didn't listen to that voice in my head and I didn't feel the desire to let off the gas. I just kept following.

The next six miles were a lot of rolling hills that led out of town and toward some wineries. This portion was an out and back, so we got to see the lead half-marathoners coming back. I was stoked that we got to sort of be spectators and participants at the same time. :)

Just before the turn around at the halfway point, there was a giant (to me) hill. By that point, I had already decided that I wasn't going to walk a single step of the race, and I stuck to it. (unless you count the one time I got stuck behind someone who suddenly started walking at an aid station and I almost completely bowled him over) So I had no choice but to keep running up the hill. Once I make the decision not to walk, I have to stick to it or else all bets are off and I would probably walk up all the other hills too. Luckily at the top of the hill cute guys were handing out Clif Shots and then I got to turn around and fly down the hill! (And watch all the other people suffering their way up!)

I had lost the pace group on the uphill and spent the next mile or so trying to catch up. It was around this time that I started to get really pumped up. I realized how good I felt, despite the wind and the hills. My hip and knee were starting to ache a little bit, but I knew it would be a while before it would force me to slow down. I just decided to ignore it and keep going.

As we came back toward town, we hit the last downhill and I used this as my chance to pick up some speed. We hit the 10 mile marker and I decided I could push a little, so I left the pace group behind. I was feeling pretty invincible at this point. I passed a lot of walkers and each time I did, it added to the sensation that I was flying. The crowd of runners had thinned out considerably, so I felt like all the spectators were there just to watch me. This is probably what Shalane Flanagan feels like when she's kicking ass. (ie every day)

Nothing could stop me. Not even the surprise bridge over the railroad tracks with a series of ramps at mile 11 or 12 could stop me. Nor could the surprise incline from the road onto a bike path in the last 0.1 miles. It's like I wasn't even part of my body any more. I could feel the discomfort in my hip and knee and I knew I was breathing hard, but my brain just didn't process it and didn't let it affect me. I was on top of the world and my modest mile splits and very human joints were not going to bring me down. In the last 5k of the race, I pulled 3 minutes ahead of the pace group. Whaaaat?? Hahaha :)

All I could think about was how amazing the run had been and how lucky I was to be out there and part of the race. I suddenly realized what Hungry Runner Girl means when she talks about getting bugs stuck in her teeth because she's always smiling when she runs. I'm pretty sure I was smiling for 95% of the race. (the other 5% was the ridiculous hill before the turn around...)

This was a completely incredible experience. At a time when my enthusiasm for running and training was waning, this was the perfect pick-me-up to get me back on my feet. I am excited to keep running. I am excited to keep racing. I am excited to get faster. My body hates me a little today (within a minute of stopping running, my legs completely cramped up...) but I am still 100% over the moon with my weekend.

Today I am grateful for my patient and loving mother who puts up with my shenanigans,drives me before the butt crack of dawn to the starting line with nary a complaint uttered, and cheers for me with a cowbell at the finish line. She should be given sainthood.

-------------------------------------------

How was your weekend?

Did anyone have any good (or bad) races?

No comments:

Post a Comment