Tuesday, March 29, 2011

National Half Marathon

National half marathon is a tale of two stories.  Story #1 is my time.  After my first Disney world race, I though I would never hit that time again and it would be my eternal half marathon PR (personal record for the non-runners out there).  Then in the princess half, I beat that time by just over two minutes.  I was shocked and thrilled (especially after being sick).  But certainly that would be my PR!  Then national half marathon came around.  I beat my Disney Princess time by about 3 1/2 minutes, finishing in 1:45:31.  I am still in total disbelief about this and SO happy.
It was cold!! And all clothes left on the course get donated to homeless shelters, so it's nice to stay warm at the start (and look ridiculous).

But now for Story #2.  I was placed in corral 4 (or pink, or D, or something like that) which I found out was 8:10 to 8:40 min/mile expected time.  Perfect for me.  The race was crowded at the beginning, but compared to trying to get out to a good start in Disney World, it was a piece of cake.  So I did what I was used to and started passing as many people as I could.  Only this time, the people in my corral were actually running the time they were signed up for.  So I quickly found myself running much faster than expected - except I had no idea.  How is that possible, you ask?
-The people that set up the race decided not to post any sort of mile marker until mile 10.  You could guess when you were around mile 5 because the relay teams switched off (half marathon relays are made up of three legs of 5 miles, 5 miles, and 3.1 miles), but by that point I had already gone way too fast.  I haven't run a lot of races to know what is normal, but from the number of people complaining, I'm pretty sure that most races post signs at each mile, so this led to a lot of people running too fast or too slow. 
-But I have a Garmin watch, so I should have seen my pace, right?  Well, my Garmin watch couldn't correctly connect to satellites in time for the start of the race, so I never knew for sure if it was working correctly and just assumed it was wrong when it showed my pace.  Though it turns out, it was mostly correct.  It's a great piece of technology and I highly recommend it to someone racing a lot, but it's almost so cool that I'm still learning to trust it.  And somehow, being surrounded by all these fast people, my body didn't realize it was going so fast.

You can probably see where this is going.  First half of the race I was booking it!  Second half, not so much.  For the first time, I walked during a race.  Mainly just 10-15 seconds when I was really struggling, but that tells you how I was feeling during the second half.  It was by far my least impressive performance in that sense, but no need to dwell on that because it still turned out well.  And even if it hadn't, bad races are bound to happen when you run 12 in a year.

Once again though, something great happened.  At one point as I was walking on the right side of the course so I didn't interfere with the people running by, some kind woman gave me a little pat on the back as she passed and said something to the tune of "you can do it, come on and go!"  And I did.  Not that it was the last time I took a quick walk break, but I got my head back in the game thanks to the kindness of some stranger.  As for the woman, I only wish she had an idea how much her quick comment helped me out, and now I'll try to do the same for others in a later race who look like they need a little encouragement.  Runners may be an intense bunch, but it's like you're part of some club and everyone is instantly friends, and I have found that most of them are some of the nicest people you will meet. 

I felt the need to explain all that though, because the point is that you can have a great time without necessarily running your smartest or "best" race.  I still managed to finish in 1:45:31, putting me right around 8:03 minutes/mile.  That's a half marathon time I NEVER dreamed I could complete, and I'm very excited.  The 11, 12, 13 Challenge is not about time, but of course I still want to celebrate the victories when the training pays off. 
This picture does not include me, because they couldn't find me.  But you can see why we might have missed each other!

The only slightly sad part: Adam and Kristen (my sister) and my friend Amanda (who ran Princess with me) had come out to cheer me on.  I was expecting to see them somewhere around mile 5 - they try to decide ahead of time where they will be so I know to keep an eye out, because it's easy to get in the zone during a race.  Kristen was going to wear a bright pink sweatshirt so they were easy to recognize.  But somehow, I never saw them!  Maybe because I went out quickly they hadn't gotten over there yet, or maybe we somehow just all missed, but it was disappointing.

Anyway, I couldn't be more happy that they all came out to cheer and I still got the boost just from knowing they were out there in ~30-35 degree weather to cheer me on.  My friends and family are the core of this challenge and what keeps me going.  Kristen and Adam were up at 4 AM to get ready for the race and take me over, and Amanda woke up to come cheer us on around 7:30 AM on a Saturday.  That's just amazing.
And speaking of great friends, Matt ran this race too!  What's even crazier is that he ran the NYC half marathon last weekend, so this was his second race in less than a week!  That is real toughness right there.  Afterward, we relaxed for the afternoon and went out to a nice celebratory dinner and drinks.
 And the woman who told me to keep going?  It gave me hope and inspiration, which is what I want to do for others who are struggling with a long-term disability, or have a family member who is.  The 11, 12, 13 Challenge is now a quarter of the way complete for me - and I'm only feeling more and more enthusiastic about it.

1 comment:

  1. "So I did what I was used to and started passing as many people as I could." glad to see some of what coach, Ashley, and I tried to teach you stuck :) keep up the great work... very proud of you