Subtitle: you had better be ready for one million details because I need to document this for future races.
The half was on Sunday. I, of course, prepared by running 5 tempo miles on the treadmill on Friday, then drinking lots of cider. I'm really big on seeing if my internal organs are ready for a challenge, as well as my legs.
Saturday I took apart our entire downstairs bathroom then helped Nick clean up tree branches from the yard. Pretty much taking it easy. We went to dinner at a local Indian restaurant where I rolled the dice by having gluten, dairy, and very spicy food all at once! That's the recipe for distance running success, apparently. After a quick stop at Lowe's, I was in bed clutching my stomach by 10pm.
Race morning we woke up at 5am. I had a banana and 2 eggs with salt, plus a ton of water. The drive to the race was super easy- it's only about 45 minutes which is basically as close as I can ask for in this area. Nick chauffeured me so I could obsessively check the weather on the drive up. It was a glorious 50some degrees with no chance of rain. Perfection. Packet pick-up was super easy (used my married name in a race for the first time, yay!). I had a double serving of Rice Chex at ~6am, a grande redeye at ~6:45, more water, and a Clif Shot at 7:15. Plenty of time before the 7:30 race start, although I felt like I'd had a ton of food, apparently the combo was a winner. I love getting to races super early because it helps me fit in my 2 or 3 bathroom breaks without feeling rushed. Normal people might want to sleep those extra 30 minutes, I prefer standing in a porta-potty line.
Pre-race. I am happy and not quite awake! Funny enough, I ran behind the girl in orange for most of the race before passing her and her matching friend at the end. Outfit- Ragnar shirt, super short Brooks shorts, Balega socks, first race in Mizuno Wave Riders (love) and Moving Comfort Rebound Racer (super love)
There weren't any pacers or pace sections, so I lined up mid-way through the pack, guessing that I would be ok. The race started right on time and I took off, trying to pace myself and stay in a "comfortable" zone.
Photographer Nick caught an action shot. The girl to my right was laughing because Nick didn't see me at first so I yelled "Hi baby!... honey!... NICK!"
Miles 1- 4: Run on a major road. Runners get 2 lanes for the first 2.5 miles or so, which was not quite enough time to spread everyone out before scrunching down to just one lane. My first 4 miles were 8:39, 8:30, 8:31 (uphill, scrunching up), 8:20 (downhill). At this point, I felt great, but I wasn't too optimistic yet. My unofficial min/mile goal was 8:45, because that would have me finishing somewhere around 1:55 and I figured a 3 minute PR would be great. When my first miles were below that pace, I was worried I was going out too fast. I tried to stay comfortable and enjoy watching people and the beautiful weather. I saw Nick right after mile 4 when the course veered onto a trail.
Miles 5-10: The trail miles. Not my favorite. This course is kind of obnoxious because it has quite a few 90-degree turns and it loops back on itself. At one point, the race leaders, mid-packers, and back-of-the-pack folks were all on the loop at the same time. I was getting passed by the very fast people while trying not to run into slower folks. Very frustrating. I had a Gu at mile 5 and 10, and drank a couple cups of Gatorade and a couple waters. I was with the same bunch of folks for most of this stretch so I tried to keep up with them. It was also at this point that I realized how good I felt. My times were 8:14, 8:30, 8:15, 8:26, 8:25, 8:10. As I saw the consistently quick mile times and checked on my body I realized I could probably go a little faster, but was frustrated that the terrain and bunching up prevented that. I looked at my watch around the halfway point and realized that a 1:50ish was in my reach as long as I didn't bonk.
Mile 11: Start on trail, finish on road. Wooo almost done, speed up a little! 8:04
Mile 12: All road. No really, almost done, go faster legs! 7:42
Mile 13: All road. Stupid bridge is stupid high and this mile isn't going fast enough stupid legs won't move I'm done I quit running forever. 7:52? (forgot to stop my Garmin)
Heyyyyy super pale legged girl, how you doin?
I finished, with Nick cheering me on. My thoughts for mile 11-12 were "woohoo, I'm almost done, time to start counting down the tenths, be done soon! Wooo!" Then as the tenths ticked by, I realized I was comfortably under 1:50, I'd blown my original time goal way out of the water, I was tired, so I would just relax the last mile. Because putting in effort at the end of the race requires mental toughness and I didn't want to play that game anymore. I AM AN INSPIRATION. Official time: 1:49:02, 8:20 pace, 25th in my age group.
I finished, got water, found Nick, and realized how unbelievably normal I felt. Nothing hurt. Nothing was chafed or sore or sunburnt. I was tired, as I had been running for almost 2 hours, but I wasn't TIREDDDDDDDD like I had been after previous halfs (halves? whatever), I didn't feel like I needed to puke, I didn't feel like much of anything had happened. I chowed down on some salt and vinegar chips (best post race food in history btw) and we headed home. I had an apple and a Balance Bar in the car, despite it being chock full of soy protein. It had protein, and was yummy.
It took the 45 minute drive to the grocery store by our house for my body to figure out what it had done. Dairy + gluten + running finally caught up with me and all was not well. We did a super fast grocery stop, then headed home so I could shower. I still felt gross, but we had a party to get to that afternoon and I needed to make dip and chop veggies. I made this dip because it had excellent reviews but I was less than blown away. It was bland. Luckily, Nick had picked up canned chipotles at the store! We threw a couple of those in there, added some extra cinnamon, and it was delicious.
We went to the party even though I still wasn't too keen on food or socializing or standing up. I powered through (I'm such a trooper, I showed such fortitude by drinking cider and eating picnic food.), ate a bunch, drank a little, talked to people, and was ready for bed by 9. Party hard.
Looking back on the race, what would I change? I think I would try to start faster. Knowing the course better this year, I would have benefitted from being ahead of a few more people going into the twisty stuff. This would have put me 10 or 15 seconds per mile faster the first half, and I would have been trying to hold onto that pace the last half, meaning I would have pushed it more. I've heard that's the way to do it- if you go too easy the first half, you don't have the ability to really push it the last half because your legs don't have any raw speed left at that point in the race. If you pace a little faster in the first half but try and maintain in the second half, you're a little more likely to fade away but at least you'll have expended yourself in the first miles..... that was just a lot of words and not a lot of sense. Sorry. Anyways, I think I could have raced smarter and been faster, but overall I am very pleased with my time and can't wait to see what my legs can muster up this weekend! Nick and I are doing a local 5K and he's probably going to run it with me, which is how I got my last 5K PR in December! Exclamation points!!!!