October 10, 2011

A Lucky Fluke

Yesterday morning Superman, Energizer Bunny and I ran the Towpath Half Marathon. My training schedule was ambitious, but I did not even come close to completing most of the workouts. Where I planned for 4 run days and 2 cross-train days, I mostly just got a couple runs in a week.

At least I was able to complete a few long runs. At the start line yesterday I was certain I had not completed anything longer than 9 miles in the past few weeks. I did know the 8 and 9 milers the week before last I went out too fast and crashed in flames.

As an example for how unprepared I was for this race, when Energizer Bunny texted me to ask if I could pick up race packets, I responded with "Oh SH*T!" I completely forgot race packets needed to be picked up. I'd looked up the schedule a few weeks ago, but promptly forgot and never even thought of it again.

I also hardly ran last week - not even in taper mode, where I would run a few 3 milers. Instead, I spent long hours painting, which uses different muscles and exhausts me in different ways. My back was tight in several places, which definitely affected my form.

I hoped to run or stretch Saturday, but in addition to picking up packets and visiting my Dad, I had another obligation. I helped shoot a wedding. Superman is a quasi-professional photographer. He has the equipment. He has the skill. He calls it a hobby and tries to shoot at least one wedding a year. He does a fantastic job, and I get to play photographer's assistant.
The only picture I have from the wedding.
Superman was taking all the pictures,
including black and white Polaroids of all the guests.
I was having all the fun!
This is a lot of fun, and I've been told by one bride's mother I should be a wedding planner. I just try to help out as much as possible. This wedding I helped with decorations after the rehearsal dinner, and pinned on boutonnieres prior to the pre-ceremony photo session. Then I danced, both in and out of heels. The only time I wear heels is at these weddings. I believe it influenced my performance the next morning. Tons of rich food 2 days in a row, coupled with not getting home until almost midnight Saturday probably had something to do with my performance as well.

I didn't talk much about the race here because, well, I wasn't thinking too much about it. I had told Energizer Bunny I hoped to finish somewhere close to 2.5 hours. My half marathon PR was set at 2:46, at this race last year, so I was hoping to PR even with my poor training.

Midnight Saturday I set up the coffee pot, filled my camelback and fuel bottle, and set out everything but clothes. I had an idea what I wanted to wear, but opted to pull it out in the morning. In the morning, my alarm did not go off as expected. Somehow the 5:30 got switched to 5:50. Luckily Superman set his as well. We ultimately got up at 5:40. I chose my outfit based on the temperatures I'd seen for 6am, instead of what was expected at 8:00 when the race started. I should have set my clothes out the night before, but in the end I was not horribly overheated. I don't know that shorts instead of capri's would have made any real difference.

I had a banana and packed another for the race start. I mixed up my usual gargantuan cup of coffee + creamer (coffee candy), but poured a large portion of that out before we got in the car. I usually have an almond butter & jelly sandwich as well, but I was still full from the night before.

We arrived at Energizer Bunny's house right about 6:15, and shortly thereafter piled into EB's car and headed out. EB is one of Energizer Bunny's best cheerleaders. She gets up at the butt-crack of dawn and drives to all of Energizer Bunny's races. Then she hangs out at the start, takes our jackets, and meets us at the finish with cheers and a camera.
I'm guessing EB does not like getting her picture taken.
I took ibuprofen before hopping in EB's car, because my feet were sore from dancing the night before. I also had a fresh blister on the side of my ankle. I love my red heels, but my feet have apparently changed shape since the last time I wore them. 

I won't show the first picture I got of Energizer Bunny
because I like her too much.
Here she's trying hard to not look like she's posing...
Superman doesn't look like he's running, does he?
That's just how he rolls.
He might dress differently if he were running for himself,
but he basically just paces me in my races

The pictures above are shortly before the start. At the gun we headed off, me trying to run a slow and controlled pace. I was terrified I would crash and burn again, as I had on "all my long runs lately."

Yeah. Slow and controlled. My first mile was 11:09.

The race runs down from the local ski resort, onto the main road, and about 3 miles later turns onto the towpath along the canal. It's beautiful. There was fog over the marshy areas, and at one point I looked up to see the sun through the fog, reflecting over a sea of runners. There were rolling hills, which I focused on managing without overexerting, motoring uphill and letting gravity take me on the downhills.

My hip started hurting before we made the turn onto the towpath. By mile 4 I wondered how I would finish, as my lower back was already tired and sore, and both IT bands were letting me know they weren't happy.

By mile 5 my stomach was acting wonky. I was both hungry and uncomfortably bloated at the same time.

Energizer Bunny passed us just as we hit mile 7. She'd already been through the turnaround at mile 8, so was almost exactly 2 miles ahead of us. Last year she'd passed us closer to mile 6, so I took heart that I was doing ok time-wise. Even though I was already tired and really uncomfortable, I still wanted to come in close to 2:30 - mainly so EB and Energizer Bunny didn't have to wait too long for me to finish.

Right before mile 8 they were handing out bananas for the marathoners (who hadn't caught up to us yet). I took one hoping it would help settle my stomach. One bite told me that wouldn't be the case. Even worse, a small bit of that bite went down the wrong tube. Now I'm uncomfortable and tired and choking! I was not able to cough it up, but after a half mile or so I guess it squeezed itself out of the way.

We passed the marathon leader around mile 9. He was smiling, and had a HUGE lead on the rest of the pack. Superman thought he was running about an 8-9 minute mile pace. It looked a lot faster to me, but couldn't have been much faster than 6.5s. The marathon leader passed me last year, so I kept waiting to hear the bicyclist behind me. They did not catch up to me this year.

I think I took my first walk break somewhere around mile 10. I was exhausted, feeling just as I did on those crash and burn runs, and wondering how I was going to finish this race. Somehow, I got myself started again. I was ok until I hit a small uphill, but couldn't imagine running up it and walked again. I knew I'd slowed down considerably, but still hoped for a PR.

Energizer Bunny was waiting for me close to mile 12. She and Superman kept me smiling and chatting for the last mile. She said something about a final sprint, to which I laughed. My legs barely had run in them. They certainly had no sprint, and I told her as much. Somehow though, when we hit the 13 mile marker, I found myself digging deep and pushing forward a bit more. I sped up. I don't know how. It wasn't a sprint, and it could barely be called a surge, but I lengthened my stride and pushed for the finish.

Official chip time: 2:39:54

Almost a 7 minute PR.

My final splits
I'm obviously comfortable running in the 11's, at least for the short term. This is a vast improvement over the beginning of the year, when I was running in the high 12s and 13s.

Energizer Bunny plans to run another half marathon next month. If I can swing the entry fee, I hope to run it as well. I still think I have something closer to a 2:30 in me. I'm curious to see what I can really do, if I stick to my training plan and actually focus on the race in the weeks prior. Of course, my training plan is now geared toward added mileage with a focus on a marathon next year. I don't currently have any other races scheduled until that marathon (which I have not yet chosen - I'm leaning toward Columbus at the moment). If I do run the half marathon next month, I'll have to run a warmup mile to get my mileage in for the day...

1 comment:

Rose @ Eat, Drink, and Be Meiri said...

7 minutes is a pretty solid PR. Awesome!