Thursday, September 29, 2011

Rock n Roll Philly

I literally found myself smiling randomly in the middle of this race.  I had been planning to run this race for a long time – Rock n Roll races are fun, it was flat, and I have wanted to go to Philly.  But with a few weeks to go, Adam made the leap and registered as well.  When I started the Challenge, he was barely running at all.  In June, he ran the Dash4Dad four miler which was a really long race for him.  And now, just a few months later, he was tackling a half marathon!
 Carb loading the night before
The weekend started out great.  We headed to Philly Saturday morning (though slightly later than planned – my fault) and checked into our hotel (thank you Marriott points and Adam’s regular work trips for that one!)  The view from our room was gorgeous. His parents and sister were already there, so we headed out and had lunch in this crazy market full of restaurants.  Afterward, we went to meet up with one of his friends from college who is now at UPenn.  Adam’s dad went there for graduate school, so we got to see his old townhouse and hear stories from his parents when they were there.
We tried to go to dinner at a local Italian place but the wait was almost an hour and a half, so we had to pass on that.  Eat pasta, get all the race gear ready, early bedtime, go!
Race morning was here!  Relatively speaking, it was a late day (wakeup at 5:30 AM) because 1) it was only a mile walk from our hotel to the start, which prevented the need to account for traffic and 2) the race wasn’t until 8.  Woohoo!
Adam and I headed to the start with plans to see his parents and Rachel around mile 2 and 3 since the hotel was on the course.  It was actually pretty chilly (around 54 at the start i think) but made for great racing weather once you got moving.  The morning was very smooth and well run and we were off!
I had agreed to pace Adam for the race.  This is scary to me because we all know I’ve messed up my own pace pretty bad a few times, and it was even worse because my Garmin did not work at ALL the first two miles (unless we really did run 4:30 min/mile!)  I heard others had the same problem which might be from the tall buildings in the city.  Luckily, we were able to hit within about 10 seconds of our target (8:45 min/mile) anyway for all miles.
 It's hard to see, but that guy is juggling!  I saw him in Virginia Beach too, quite impressive!
Adam’s race plan was simple: start at 8:45 pace, take walk breaks at the water stops around miles 4 and 8, and slow down as needed.  The goal was to break 2 hours.
Well, we got going, and he never slowed down!  His leg was hurting but he did SO well!  There is nothing more exciting to me than sharing someone’s first half marathon.  If you’re thinking of running one but don’t want to do it alone, let me know!!!  Crossing that finish is truly incredible.  You suddenly realize you did something very difficult and you rocked! 
We did it!
The first few miles were in the city and had lots of spectators, which I love.  Then it moved into a park setting which was very beautiful and scenic but lacked fans.  Overall, a pleasant course, though the water stops were a little chaotic.  
Before I knew it, we were done!  Though I never pushed him to run (OK, maybe to run one race, but a short one) I saw his mileage increasing and I knew he was capable of running a half.  This race was especially significant because Adam's whole family came to Philly to cheer us on.  They were awesome spectators, and I know it meant a lot to both Adam and me to have them there to share the weekend and his first race.  We are so lucky to have such great friends and family!
 Thanks for cheering us on, Udasins!
I’m thrilled to say that race #10 is successfully in the books.  One step closer to the finish line!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Rock n Roll Virginia Beach and a big announcement!

The whole crew!  So much fun...
Have you ever had a moment where you watch something, and you half dream of doing it one day, but it seems so far from achievable that you shake the idea?  As I said earlier, that's how Rock n Roll Virginia Beach was for me.  Watching my dad run it eight years ago and handing water to the elite athletes - it was so thrilling. I was a runner, and a pretty solid runner at that, but a half marathon?  Even in my longest workouts, I only ran 40 or 50 minutes back then.
New shorts: easy to find in a crowd and unique
So heading into Virginia Beach was like picking up a lifelong dream.  In some ways, running ANY half marathon filled that, but it felt so special to be a part of this race.  Even better, it meant heading home for the weekend and sharing the experience with my family.  Adam and I went home Friday night after work, so it was pretty late by the time we arrived.  Saturday we went to the expo to get my number, enjoyed the gorgeous Virginia Beach weather, and basically took it easy with my parents.  Kristen and her husband got home late on Saturday (OK, relatively speaking it was early, but it seemed late since bedtime was before 9).
They woke up very early to join me at the start.  Thanks!
We woke up at 4:30, and Adam and my dad went over to the start of the race with me.  The plan was for Curtis, Kristen, and my mom to join us for the end of the race.  The starting line was busy but great!  My dad commented that I didn't seem nervous at all, and I really wasn't.  It was a little surprising to me since I hadn't raced in so long but being back out on the half marathon course felt so natural that I was just glad to be there, no matter what happened.  As per usual, I was in Corral 4.
How is it that I end up in Corral 4 about half the time?!
The gun went off and I felt great.  About a mile in I was pretty absorbed in my music, but I still somehow managed to hear my name!  Kristen, Curtis and my mom had made it in time to cheer me on, and only one mile in!  I was ecstatic.  Not that running isn't fun without others but it's such a great boost to hear people cheering for you.  I saw them again around mile 2, and then a few blocks later saw Adam and my dad.  As if I wasn't excited enough for this race, I was just loving it at this point.
All the really good runners
Not too much else to say other than it was a lot of fun.  A very flat course other than going over a bridge twice, but even that wasn't too bad.  There were lots of entertaining cheerleaders and bands and fans out cheering the runners along, so the miles went by easily (and a little kid was handing out lei's with about two miles to go, so of course I grabbed one).  Somewhere around 10.5, I started to struggle a littlle bit, but then at 12 I decided to go for it.  According to my watch, I actually did mile 12-13 at 7:30 per mile pace, which is great!  Near the end, you reach the boardwalk and naturally start to speed up as you see the finish line and hear fans cheering like crazy.  But I looked at my watch and realized that I was still deceptively far from the finish.  That might have been the toughest part - so close you can see it but still having almost a mile to go.  I heard my cheer squad near the end (over an already loud crowd - they were that good!) and pushed it to the finish, with an official time of 1:45:23.  Second best time to date and more importantly a solid, confidence building race. 
 On the boardwalk and SO close
Why do I need confidence, you ask?  Here's the big news: I'm training for a marathon.  I currently have a Marine Corps Marathon registration for October 30.  Though I've had it since February, MCM has a flexible transfer policy so my goal was to see how I felt and decide if I'd run later in the year.  So far, I've built my training runs up to 18 miles and logged 94 miles last month, my best month to date.  Not to jinx it, but I'm feeling good!  I've chosen to keep this quiet because I don't want any pressure to complete the marathon if I'm not up for it - though I'm definitely sticking with the Challenge!  If there's one thing I've learned from my mom's psoriatic arthritis, it's to take care of yourself, and I'm not going to run the race if I'm not feeling totally ready for it.  I'm a little nervous how I will get in my weekend long runs with two half marathons between now and then but I'm still hoping to be able to walk to the starting line on Oct 30.  Crazy, huh???  I guess 12 half marathons just wasn't enough!
I think I was in the middle of waving in this picture.  Or my form is just terrible.
Now that I've announced that, back to the race.  I spent some time with my cheer squad but mom wasn't feeling great, so we headed out relatively quickly.  I could have stayed and spent the whole day just being with the people I loved and knowing that we were making a difference for NPF.  I went home and biked along with Adam as he did his long run of over 11.5 miles, his longest run to date.  Why?  Because he registered for his first half marathon in two weeks in Philly, which will be even better because his family will be out there to cheer us on.  Does it get any better?
Feeling great
I am happy.  I'm happy to be back to running but more importantly I'm happy to share this with my family.  Though I hate that I only see my parents every month or two, it makes the time much more precious.  Now on to getting ready for Philly.  Let's go!

As always, this one's for you, Mom.
Very fun medal to go with a very fun race