Race Recap: Rock N Roll St. Louis Half Marathon

I’ll just get right down to it.  I blew my own mind this weekend.  I ran faster and stronger than I ever expected, and I couldn’t be more proud of myself right now.

Let’s see… where to begin… I made it to St. Louis around 3:00 Saturday afternoon.  For the most part the drive up was uneventful, but about halfway there my phone’s car charger quit working.  Ordinarily that wouldn’t be a big deal, but since I was using the GPS feature, the battery was draining FAST.  Then when I got into downtown St. Louis, there was a lot of road construction and I got all turned around.  By the time I found my way to the hotel, my battery was in the red zone.  Again, this wouldn’t have been a big deal either… IF I had brought my wall charger.  But I didn’t.  So to preserve the battery I had to keep my phone off most of the time, thus explaining the very few photos from my weekend!

Anyway, after I got checked in, I did the expo thing, grabbed a to-go plate of spaghetti from a little pizza dive near the hotel, ate, and was in the bed by 8:00.  I was up late the night before and had to get up early to work half a day that morning, so I was pretty worn out.

Up at 5:00, Clif bar for breakfast, dressed and ready to head to my corral by 6:00!

The outfit.  And photographic evidence of why I always wear my hair covering my ears.

It was still dark and a little on the chilly side just standing around.  There was a beautiful view from the corrals though.  The sun rising behind the arch was so pretty!  

I took this one right after I got there.  It got prettier as the sun rose, but I didn’t want to turn my phone back on and waste any more juice.
By the time we got moving, the sun was well on its way up.  It didn’t take long at all to get warm.  Within just a couple of miles I had a good sweat going on, but I never got uncomfortably hot.  Sure I would have preferred it to be a little cooler (It was like 55.), but otherwise I can’t complain at all.  It was a beautiful day for running!

As of the time I crossed the start line, I still hadn’t fully made up my mind how I was gonna run the race.  I figured I would know within the first couple of miles whether I was going to race it or just run it.  Well when I felt how naturally the 9:30s were coming, I decided to just hold onto that as long as I could and see where it took me.  Little did I know I’d be riding that pace all the way to the finish line.  A few things of note…
  • The course started and ended downtown with some parks and residential areas in the middle.  It was really pretty nice!  The spectatorship was great.  There were aid stations aplenty, and they were all super well organized.
  • I passed several people on every hill.
  • I hit the 10k mark in PR time.  When my watch read 6.2, the time on it was 59:09.  When I crossed the 10k timing mat, my watch said 59:45.  So either way I got my sub-1:00 10k.
  • My watch showed a distance of 13.2 at the end.  I did a decent job of running the tangents, but there were a few times that I chose to run around the pack rather than slow down and run with it on the tangent line.
  • I hit a rough patch around mile 8.5.  It was right after I had stopped for a few seconds at an aid station.  I had walked through a couple of them prior to that so that I didn’t drown myself trying to take a drink, but I actually pulled off to the side and stopped at this one to dig the compression shorts under my skirt out of my crotch and launch a couple of snot rockets.  I know.  I’m such a lady.  For a few minutes I was afraid that by stopping I had lost my groove, but I just keep pushing and eventually came through it and found my stride again. 
  • The mile that included the aid station stop was my one and only mile over a 10 min/mile pace.
  • I had three Clif Shot Bloks at mile 4ish, three more at mile 8ish, and about half of a vanilla bean GU that I had grabbed from one of the earlier aid stations at mile 11ish to get me through those last couple miles.
  • I hit the lap button when my watch read 13.1 at a time of 2:06:30.
  • I crossed the finish line feeling positively triumphant.  My goal was to average less than a 10 min/mile, and I crushed that.

For now I’ll have to use my Garmin stats because, for some reason, according to the official results I wasn’t even there yesterday.  Faulty timing D tag?  I dunno, but from the looks of the event’s Facebook page, that happened to a lot of us. I’ve turned in an error correction request, but I don’t know how long that will take; if it will have my 5k, 10k, and 10M splits; or even how accurate any of it will be.

After collecting my bling and some snacks, I headed back to the hotel to clean up because I had plans to meet THIS GIRL for brunch!  What better way is there to celebrate a PR than with good company, food, and booze?!  Valuable lesson learned:  I am a CHEAP DRUNK immediately after running.


So half marathon #9 was one for the record books (well, MY record book anyway) and has left me looking forward to December 1st more than ever! 

One more for the ever-growing collection.  My precious…

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Race Report: Run Baby Run 5K

Do you KNOW how long it’s been since I’ve tried to run fast?  A long damn time.  April 10th, to be exact, was my last logged track workout.  But I signed up for a 5k today anyway.  It was for the March of Dimes (aka “tax deductible”), it was local, and an acquaintance was the race director.  All good reasons to go out and support it.

My official 5k PR was really outdated–27:51 from March of 2011–but since my training has been all about the long, slow miles lately, I just didn’t know if I had it in me to beat it.

My race plan:   Run fast until you can’t run fast anymore.

The weather was pretty good, although not exactly ideal for me.

With 100% humidity, at least if you get thirsty all you have to do is breathe.

I didn’t really know where to line myself up at in the field of 52 people.  (Hey, it’s a small town!  That’s a good turnout!)  I planted myself squarely in the middle–behind the high school boys and in front of the couple with the stroller and a dog.

I knew ahead of time where the race was starting, but I didn’t know what direction is was going to go from there.  Turns out, it was on streets that I run regularly.  I guess that paid off for me because I picked several people off on the first long incline.  That was a confidence boost.  I’m not the girl that passes people.  I’m the girl that gets passed.  But not one single person passed me in this race.

Mile 1 was 8:35.  Fast for me, but today it felt sustainable, so I rolled with it.

Mile 2 came in at exactly 8:35 again.  I wondered if I could hang on.

During mile 3 I felt myself slipping.  I looked down once and saw a 9 as the first number of my pace and thought, “Aw, HELL, naw,” and picked it back up.  It was during this mile that I caught up with my buddy, the Sheriff.  I passed him (and MAY have made a remark about that fact), but he caught back up to me and we hung together.  Mile 3 came in at 8:47.

The last tenth, Sheriff asked if I had anything left for a kick.  I told him I was DONE, but we picked it up a little bit for an 8:13 average on the last little stretch.

Final official results:

Official time:  26:45  (I always forget to stop my watch immediately when I finish!)
Official pace:  8:37
Field placement:  12/52
Age group placement 2/at least 3

Love those small age groups!!

Racing on a Whim

I wasn’t planning on racing this weekend.  Really I wasn’t.  But when a Facebook friend posted Friday afternoon, “Who all is doing the Fantastic Four tomorrow???” I started thinking.  The whole reason I had NOT planned to race this weekend was because I had been planning on doing a 5K last Saturday and didn’t want to race two weekends in a row.  But since I ever-so-gracefully fell last Friday afternoon and didn’t get to race the 5K the next day, that was no longer a reason not to race this weekend.

So I did what any runner would do.  I checked weather.com.  High 82, sunny, gusty winds developing later in the day.  Hmmmm……  but the race started at 8, which should only be 60 and breezy.  So I decided right then.  I decided to decide when I woke up the next morning.

Well, that almost didn’t work out.  I forgot to set my alarm, so thank goodness for starving kitties.  (At least that’s what she would have me believe.)  Starvin’ Marvin came into the bedroom demanding breakfast at 6:38.  Registration started at 7:00.

I went outside with the dogs to assess the situation.  Yep, it was about 60ish.  Yep, it was breezy, not gusty yet.  Cloudy.  A little humid, but what the hell.  Let’s do this.

I tossed on some clothes, decorated my bedhead with a headband, grabbed the necessities and headed to the high school where I forked over $20 and then sat in my truck yawning and wondering why in the hell I had decided to do this rather than just crawling back into my snuggly bed.

I wasn’t real sure what my goal should be for this race.  Of course I wanted to PR, but that was kind of a given since my only other four-mile race was two years ago at a 9:49 pace.  I decided I’d just wing it.

We eventually lined up on the track and someone yelled “Go.”  Right off the bat, I set my eyes on another girl that I knew to be faster than me and in my age group.  The goal became to hang with her as long as I could.

Mile 1 – 8:29

I was still hanging with her pretty well but the gap was widening a little bit.  The course was a two-mile out-and-back, and by the turnaround point she was probably a solid 30 seconds in front of me.

Mile 2 – 8:50

Ahhhh, halfway there.  But I really didn’t know how much longer I could hold this pace.  I felt myself fading.  By mile 2.5 I was really wishing that the race had been a 5K.  And then the goal shifted again.  “MAKE it a 5K with a .9-mile cooldown.”  So I raced until my watch read 3.1 miles.  I hit the lap button at 27:11–a 40-second 5K PR!  Then I walked and caught my breath until my watch read 3.2 miles, at which point I noticed that my average pace was still 8:58.  So the goal changed again:  Keep it sub-9.  I tried.  I REALLY tried.  But the “pop” was gone out of my legs.  I was only keeping it around a 9:10 pace so my average pace was creeping up, but when I saw the finish I was able to pull off enough of a kick to land the average at 8:57.  According to my Garmin anyway.

Garmin stats:  4.04 miles/36:04 = 8:57 pace
Official stats:  4.00 miles/36:06 = 9:02 pace

I’LL TAKE IT!!!!  🙂

It was even good enough for a 3rd place AG award.  That’s why I love me some small town races!!!

As an added bonus, I scored a $10 Subway gift card as a door prize!  Woohoo!  That was half of my entry fee that I earned back!

Then I ran four more miles.  Because… well, you know… it just sounded like fun.

And then I came home and had an awkward self-timer photo session with my medal on the deck.  Because… well, you know… I’m a dork.

A Belated Race Report: Yuengling Shamrock Half Marathon

Last Sunday, I ran my eighth half marathon–the Yuengling Shamrock Half Marathon in Virginia Beach.

We came up on this on the beach near the finish line area the day before the race just as the guy was putting the finishing touches on it.

I’ll just cut to the chase.  While I did PR with a time of 2:13:20, I did not have the race or the outcome I had so hoped for.  So that’s how the story ended.  Now let’s start at the beginning.

It was a long haul from West TN to Virginia Beach.  I was pulling out of the driveway at 6:15 Friday morning, and D pulled us into the parking lot of the hotel almost exactly 15 hours later.  (We split the driving in half–5 hours me, 5 hours D, 2.5 me, 2.5 D.  That helped break it up some.)  We did nothing that night but check in and hit the hay.

The next morning I woke up and hopped in the shower because we had plans to meet Michele and her family at the expo as soon as it opened at 10:00.  When I got out of the shower, I could hear all kinds of hootin’ and hollerin’ outside.  I got dressed and stepped out on the balcony to find this going on right outside our hotel.

It was the 8K!  I had no idea it was running past our hotel or I would have been down there cheering them on!

So then we headed to the expo.  I’ll tell ya, the Days Inn we stayed in might not be fancy, but it was in the perfect location.  Ocean view, right on the strip and boardwalk, and within walking distance to everything–expo included.  We walked just a tad over a mile to the convention center and we were some of the first ones there.

No wait line for the packets, no waiting at the Solutions desk (so I could change corrals so that me and Michele could start together), and easy maneuvering around the booths.  Perfect!  I was super glad we got there early because by the time we left over an hour later, the crowds had already started filing in and things were starting to get tight.

The rest of the day was spent just knocking around the Virginia Beach/Norfolk area.  Among other things, we walked down to the boardwalk to scope out the finish area.

They had already set out the food, water, and finishers’ hats and hoodies.

Before we knew it, it was time to head back to the hotel, get everything ready for the next morning, and turn in.

The outfit!

With the Irish mani as the final touch. 🙂

Five a.m. came way too fast, but it was just enough time to get up, get dressed, and walk to the corral for a 7:00 am start.

I fired my photographer.  He took this at the start and didn’t even get one at the finish.  Many thanks to Brightroom for the only proof that I was at this race.

Eventually corral 3 crossed the start line, and we were off.  The first couple miles felt effortless, and we kept having to reign ourselves in to keep from running too fast.  However, that feeling didn’t last.  Just to put it bluntly, that flat course beat the living shit out of me.  The course’s elevation chart showed that there was an ever-so-slight uphill grade for the first half and then back down the last half.  Well, damn, that first half I was thinking, “Man, I didn’t think I’d feel that slight of a grade!  If I feel it going uphill, I’ll be coasting downhill to the finish!”  NOT. THE. CASE.  I never once felt a downhill grade.  I guess after you run on flat for so long, it all starts to feel like an uphill battle.

We did fantastic for the first 8 miles.  At the water stop at about mile 8, we walked for just a minute to get something to drink and for Michele to grab her Chomps.  (I had been fueling with Shot Bloks as we went along.)  When we picked back up and started running again, we were still at a 10:01 average pace–dead on for my 2:10 finish goal.  And then from that point on, I watched it slip farther and farther away.  We never got our rhythm back. We ended up separating at mile 9.  Michele wanted to stop and walk again, but I was still hoping I could find my groove and recover.  (Remember, Michele is coming back from injury.  She had been running a max of 4 miles, then ran 9 once the week before the race.  So a huge KUDOS to her 2:18 UNTRAINED finish!)  Well, I never did find my groove.  I couldn’t get my pace back down to save my life.  My legs were toast.  My hammies and hips were desperately begging for a hill that never came.  I walked for a minute or so at miles 10, 11, 12, and even for 30 seconds at mile 12.6.  Right after that, we turned onto the boardwalk for the final stretch to the finish.  It was painful, but I picked it up to a sub 9:00 min/mile for that last half mile to finish in 2:13:20.

Note to self:  ALWAYS WEAR SUNGLASSES.  They go a long way in hiding pain.

So relieved to be done!
So, to sum it up, If I may steal a page from Adam’s book, while what I had hoped for was this,

what I ended up with looked more like this.

Quick, somebody call Guinness!  It’s the World’s Worst Race Photo EVER!  Even sunglasses couldn’t have saved this one.  It seriously deserves an award.  The fact that I’m even sharing it says a lot about my self-deprecating sense of humor.

So there you have it.  Overall the weekend was unbeatable.  I had a wonderful time with my husband and our friends, relaxed on the boardwalk and the beach (if only it had warmed up about 20 degrees after the race!), did a little shopping, and just had a glorious weekend away.  But if I’m being honest?  The race in itself?  Meh.  Don’t get me wrong, it was nice and all.  Great volunteers, great schwag, very organized… I just didn’t find that it lived up to all the hype.  The course was nothing spectacular, the spectatorship was spotty at best… I guess I just had it built up in my head to be something it wasn’t.  Maybe I’m just getting too old?  haha  I tried to take a nap after the race, but our hotel was too close to the finish line party.  I couldn’t sleep for the music.  So I figured, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!  I had planned to after a nap anyway.  We just headed down earlier than I’d planned.  I really wanted to enjoy the post-race festivities, but the Yuengling just did not sit well on my belly.  Every racer was entitled to four free beers, and I ended up tossing mine before I made it through the first one.  If that’s not a sign of old age, I don’t know what is! Or dehydration.  Or exhaustion.  Whatever.

Me, sporting all my finisher schwag.

So HM No. 8 is in the books, and I have one more shot at my goal this spring–April 21st.  I can only hope that it isn’t 90 degrees by then.  The way this spring has been going so far, I wouldn’t bet against it!

Race Report: Little Rock Half Marathon

This past weekend I ran the Little Rock Half Marathon, which made half marathon #7 (and state #4 if anyone is counting) for me!

I left Saturday morning at 7:00, drove an hour and a half to pick up Mom, and we were back on road by 8:45.  We arrived in Cabot where her BFF lives at about 12:30, picked her up at her house, grabbed a quick lunch out, and headed into Little Rock for packet pickup.  The process was very efficient.  I grabbed my shirt and bib very quickly, and then we just wandered around the expo for a little bit.  It was Mom’s first expo, and she was just amazed at all the running-related stuff!  I didn’t buy anything (except some Shot Bloks and a GU), but I found this and I wanted it soooooo bad!  Except this was just a sticker.  I wanted the magnet for my truck (because I’m classy like that), but they were sold out!  All the other hoes beat me to them.  Mom was not upset by the fact that her daughter would not be sporting this sticker.

We headed back to Cabot, hung out around the house for a while then out to eat at a FANTASTIC mom ‘n’ pop Italian joint.  Too bad I can’t remember the name of it because I would totally recommend it!  I ate my weight in spaghetti marinara and bread.  After spending so many hours in a vehicle and then gorging myself on food, by 8:30 I could barely keep my eyes open, so I was in bed super early on race eve.  I wish I could say I slept well, but I didn’t sleep for crap.  My Tempurpedic mattress has ruined me for all other mattresses.  I woke up several times through the night, but eventually 5:30 came and it was go time.
The race started at 8:00, and we were actually running ahead of schedule.  We were in Little Rock by 7:15.  Since we weren’t sure how long it would take to find a parking place or how far away it would be, Mom and J dropped me off a couple of blocks from the start line and then went to park.  I hadn’t planned on standing in the corral for 45 minutes, so I hadn’t brought any throw-away clothes, so it was pretty nipply!  Temp when I got out of the car was 36.  As long as I stood in the sun I was okay though.
(Side note:  I met the most interesting woman in the starting area!  She has already run a marathon in all 50 states and this year is running one in Africa and Asia to finish up all seven continents!)
Finally 8:00 came and Corral A was turned loose.  I was in the open corral, so I was in the back.  As I was walking up to the mat, I caught sight of Mom and J.
The first mile was pretty congested.  There were times that I actually walked in that first mile because I just didn’t have anywhere to go.  But that was fine by me.  This was a training run, remember?
I sincerely wish that I could remember details of races when I run them, but I just don’t.  I couldn’t tell what you what I ran past, where we went, what I saw… When we got back to J’s house afterwards, her husband was asking me if I ran past this or if I ran past that… I had no idea.  Observation is not my strong suit.
So yeah, like I said, my goal for this race was to run it as a training run for the upcoming Shamrock half in two weeks.  I had absolutely no intentions of racing this race.  And now?  Now I kind of wish I had.  Had I known then what I know now, I WOULD have.  I don’t know if it was the fact that it was a race, the weather, my kickass playlist, the pre-race nutrition, or what, but I was just FEELING it, man.  I was just clipping right along, never feeling like I was pushing out of my comfort zone (okay, that’s a lie, there were a couple of hills that kind of got me), walked through SEVERAL water stops (it warmed up quickly to the mid-50s by the time I finished, and I was working up a pretty good sweat.), and I still ended up with this.

An accidental PR!

Garmin stats 13.27 miles in 2:14:22 for a 10:08 pace/Official stats 13.1 miles in 2:14:22 for a 10:16 pace.
Considering that I didn’t race and ran a 10:08 on a course that looked like this
and finished strong like this
I’m feeling oh-so-confident that I can run <10:00 at Shamrock, which looks like this.
But this report is about Little Rock!  We’ll talk about Shamrock in two weeks.
So about Little Rock… even though I suck at remembering the course, everything that I do remember about the entire experience was fantastic.  It was SO well organized.  The spectators and community support were like no other.  The course support was perfect.  More than enough hydration stations offering both water and Gatorade(?).  I loved the smaller field size (around 4,000 half plus about the same number of full marathoners, I think.).  Even though it was pretty hilly for the last half, it seemed to be just the right combination of up and down.  There was quite seriously not one single thing I could suggest to improve the race, and I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND it to anyone and everyone.  I will most certainly be doing it again in the future.  And they had the coolest medal ever!
The “0” in the year is a spinning disco ball!  How freaking cool is that?!
And now you can feel free to close this screen because the rest of this is gonna be stuff that won’t be interesting to anyone else, but I want to make notes of it for my own future reference!
Prerace nutrition:  High carb, lowish fiber
Friday
Breakfast:  Caramel almond butter on whole wheat toast
Lunch:  PB/honey/banana on whole wheat bread with strawberries
Dinner:  Three slices of Papa Johns tomato/black olives/bell pepper pizza
No alcohol
Saturday
Breakfast:  Cascadia Farms cinnamon raisin granola with soy milk
Snack:  Blueberry crisp Clif bar
Lunch:  Burger King veggie burger and fries
Dinner:  Spaghetti marinara and bread
One glass of moscato
More peanut M&Ms than I care to admit to throughout the day
Sunday
Breakfast:  Cascadia Farms cinnamon raisin granola with dairy milk
30 min prerace:  5-hr energy drink
15 min prerace:  Espresso GU
Clif black cherry Shot Blok at miles 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, and 12
The most awesome, most random playlist ever:

Cough Drops are the New GU

On Friday morning, I woke up with a sore throat and some achiness going on.  After we got back from the quickest Black Friday shopping trip ever, I plopped myself down on the couch and didn’t do much for the next two days.  I even skipped out on the redonk runner’s 4-mile Turkey Trot.  (If you didn’t participate, HURRY, you’ve got a few hours left to squeeze it in there!)  I woke up this morning feeling MUCH better, except for this damn cough.  I’m popping Halls like they’re going out of style.

Anyway, in case you’ve missed it, I’m running the St. Jude half-marathon in Memphis next Saturday and have very much half-assed my training.  I knew today was my last shot at getting in a decent long run so that I went into the half with ONE double-digit run under my belt.  (See, I told you I’ve half-assed it.)  So I threw a handful of cough drops in my jacket pocket and headed out.  Even though the radar looked like this:

I’ve always said that I don’t mind running in the rain, but let me tell ya.  TEN MILES IS A BIT MUCH.  I was drenched and freezing by mile one, but I absolutely refused to cut it short.  It rained on me from the first step to the last, never letting up in the slightest.  It was cold and not enjoyable in the least, but something miraculous happened.  I set a new 10-mile personal best!  I don’t know where that came from or how I pulled it off, but I eeked out this 10 miles 33 seconds faster than I did the last time I ran 10 miles in the spring just a couple of weeks before I PRd the half-marathon distance.  And I NEVER run negative splits, but I negative split the hell out of today’s run.  My fastest miles were miles 6, 8, and 10.

Anybody know what they’re putting in cough drops these days???  Cuz that was my ONLY fuel on this run!

I still in no way think that I’m in a position to PR on Saturday.  I really have no plan to even attempt any specific time goal.  I’m just gonna take this one for what it is, have fun, and enjoy the course and the day.  I got what I needed out of today’s run–just the comfort of knowing that I at least won’t be MISERABLE next weekend.  If I can run 10 on Sunday, 13.1 won’t kill me on Saturday.  But I may load my pockets down with cough drops just in case.

Race Report: West TN Strawberry Festival 10K

Honest to goodness, there really isn’t anything exciting to tell.  I showed up a little after 7:00, handed over a check for $20, and they handed me back a T-shirt and a paper sack with an ink pen, a key chain, two pieces of gum, an emery board, and a can coozie inside.  Score.

At 8:00, the race director herded us to the start line where a kid played the National Anthem on her trumpet for us.  She also cued our start by playing the “Charge!” thingie.

And we ran.  Up hills and down hills and up hills and down hills and… well, you get it.  The first 3.5 miles or so were all rollers.  Which was absolutely cool by me.  I went into this race with a goal of keeping a 9:40 pace for a finish time of sub-1hr.  I ran solid 9:20s and 9:30s the first four miles, and then we got to the looooooong uphills the last two miles.  Those were what killed me.  I had to stop and walk up parts of them.  Yep.  During a 10K, I stopped to walk.  Twice.  And it killed my pace average.

Official distance:  10K
Official time:  1:00:34
Official pace:  9:45

I beat myself up pretty good about it, but you know what?  It’s still a better pace than I’ve ever run a 6-mile training run, and it was a pretty challenging course, so it’s still improvement.  And an automatic PR as it was my first 10K.  I’ll take what I got and I’ll get my <1:00:00 next time.

Race Report: Murray Half Marathon

I won’t keep you in suspense.  I freakin’ nailed it.  2:15:28.  An almost-6-minute PR.

Okay, now that we’ve got that out of the way, I’ll start at the beginning.

I’ve been excited about this race all week long.  After last weekend’s shitshow (Thanks, Adam, for the new addition to my vocabulary!), I had to redeem myself.  I’ve been stalking the weather like a crazy person all week long and knew the conditions were going to be prime.

Yesterday afternoon when I got off work, I did a quick drive-by to pick up D and we drove to Murray for the expo.  It was small, which was to be expected.  This ain’t no RnR.  But it was definitely worth going to just for the sole fact that I scored some good information on the Murray Farmer’s Market and a farm that sells natural grass-fed beef.  I might have missed my opportunity with the CSA, but this is a cool option that I didn’t know about.

Oh, and the shirt!  Best race shirt I’ve ever gotten!

So we picked up a map of the course and drove it before we headed home.  The course made me even more excited.  I know what kind of terrain and elevation I like to run on, and this was it.  It was the perfect combination of uphill, downhill, and flat.  Lots of rolling hills to charge up and coast back down.

I came home, made the best eggplant marinara you could ask for, and I was in bed by 9:30.

Next thing I know, after only waking up 14,001 times during the night to pee and once to kick D and tell him to quit snoring, the alarm was going off at 5:00.  I hit snooze and lay there trying to doze back off and I thought, “What is that noise????”  Took me a second to realize it was the wind howling.  Maaaaaaan, I really wasn’t wanting to run in the wind today.  I cut the alarm off and got up to check weather.com one more time:

I may or may not have uttered a string of obscenities as long as my leg.   Are you freaking kidding me with the 28MPH???  UGH!

But I put it in my head that it wasn’t going to psyche me out!  It was cloudy!  It was cool!  And the wind would HAVE to be at my back at some point!  It was gonna be a good day!

I had my regular race-day breakfast of a Clif bar, grabbed a stick of Clif Shot Bloks, and we were pulling out of the driveway by 6:00.  I mentioned to D as soon as we got in the car that I hadn’t slept well last night and he suggested a 5-Hour Energy Drink.  I’ve never tried one of those, and I was hesitant about trying it for the first time on race day, but I thought, “What the hell?”  So he stopped in the convenience store and got one for me.  I only drank probably 1/4 of it at first just to make sure it wasn’t going to have any crazy effects on me.  It didn’t, so I drank about 1/4 more of it.  After a few minutes I still didn’t really feel anything so I drank the rest of it.  Within 20 minutes I felt great.  Wide awake but not nervous.  Must remember these things in the future!

Before we got to Murray, I told D he was gonna have to stop somewhere.  He was all, “But the race starts in 20 minutes!”  It didn’t matter.  I had some kids that were BEGGING to be dropped off at the pool.

Ahhhh, much better.

We found a great parking place and I got to the start line with a whole five minutes to spare.  But, just like last week, in that five minutes I had to pee again.  Good grief, what is it with me and my race-day bladder?!  But there were no portojohns at the start.  To get to them, I would have had to have gone over a block or so to the building where the expo was.  I didn’t want to take any chances.  I knew from driving the course last night that there be portajohns on the course and plenty of tree-lined areas that I could use.  I did a little stretching and then it was go time.

They started us off in three waves, but even so the beginning was pretty congested.  But in my case, this probably turned out to be a good thing.  I felt like I was creeping along, but Garmin says 10:05.  The congestion probably kept me from starting out too fast.

As I’ve said before, I totally suck at remembering specifics of a race.  This is what I remember:

  • The volunteers were AMAZING.  The race had set up water stations every three miles, but there were random churches, sororities, etc., that had set up stations of their own along the course.  Nobody was going to go thirsty on this course.  I didn’t bring my fuel belt with me this week because I knew with the cooler temps I would be able to make do with the provided water stations.  Turns out I didn’t even stop at any of those either.
  • At mile 4.5 I ate 3 Shot Bloks.  I almost choked on the first one.
  • There was one single portajohn at mile 5 and it had a wait.  I passed it by.
  • At mile 6ish there was a water station and they were giving away Clif Shot energy gels.  I grabbed one on the run but never used it.
  • At mile 8 I found myself still holding a great pace, and I actually had a couple of minutes in the bank toward my 2:17 goal.  I considered slowing down for fear of bonking.  I quickly decided against it.
  • Somewhere I think between 8 and 9 there was one more portajohn, again with a wait.  Again I kept going.  I contemplated ducking behind a tree, but I was afraid if I stopped I wouldn’t be able to regain my pace.
  • At mile 9 I ate the other three Shot Bloks.  No choking this time.
  • At mile 10.5 I realized I was now on my longest no-walk-break run.  The farthest I’ve run without walking before was in the Clarksville Half last October.  I made it to 10.3-something then.  At this point it became my goal to not stop and to run the entire thing.
  • Not long after making that new goal I began to question it.  Mile 11 was my slowest at 10:45.  Luckily the closer we got to the finish, the more cheering and support there was.
  • I was giddy when my Garmin beeped mile 12 at me.  I knew I only had 1.15 to go (yes, the course description on the web site listed the course distance as 13.15), and I knew that unless I tripped and fell face-first into the pavement (which, let’s face it, is always a possibility where I’m concerned), I had it in the bag.
  • I crossed the line beating my goal by a minute and a half.

As I approached the finish line I was combing the crowd for D.  I didn’t see him.  I crossed the line still not seeing him.  I thought I had just missed him in the crowd.  I looked around for a couple of minutes and still didn’t find him.  I started walking back to the finisher’s tent and spotted him walking toward the finish line from the truck.  He went back to sleep in the truck while I ran and didn’t set his alarm to wake him up soon enough.  Alas, no finish line photos.  I did make him take this picture of me afterwards with my medal though.

Check out that hair.  Told you it was windy!

By this time, I had to pee like Seabiscuit.  I found a locker room inside the gym where we had gone for refreshments and was ecstatic that there was no wait.

There was nothing to hang around for, so I grabbed a bottle of chocolate milk and we started walking back to the truck when I was nearly crippled by a massive killer leg cramp.  Right in the shin!  Holy crap it hurt!  It was almost funny because it was cramped up so tight that it was pulling my foot up into dorsiflexion.  I walked it out and since I’ve gotten some fluids in me and stretched some more it’s perfectly fine.

Isn’t it crazy how much difference one week can make?  30 degrees and 15.5 minutes.  Let’s compare, shall we?

April 9                                                       
Temperature at start:  73                           
Temperature at finish:  83                         
Liquids consumed over course:  32 oz from Fuel Belt plus numerous stops at water stations.
Walk breaks:  Too many to count.  First at mile 2 through water stop.
Mile 1:  9:30
Mile 2:  10:16
Mile 3:  10:10
Mile 4:  10:18
Mile 5:  10:27
Mile 6:  11:05
Mile 7:  11:19
Mile 8:  12:01
Mile 9:  13:16
Mile 10:  12:22
Mile 11:  12:48
Mile 12:  12:35
Mile 13:  13:37
Mile 13.1:  1:17
Overall pace:  11:32

April 16
Temperature at start: 48
Temperature at finish: 50
Liquids consumed over course: None.
Walk breaks:  None.
Mile 1:  10:05
Mile 2:  9:56
Mile 3:  10:12
Mile 4:  10:05
Mile 5:  10:06
Mile 6:  10:31
Mile 7:  10:29
Mile 8:  10:19
Mile 9:  10:09
Mile 10:  10:28
Mile 11:  10:45
Mile 12:  10:35
Mile 13:  10:27
Mile 13.15: 1:30
Overall pace:  10:21

So all in all, I consider today a raging success.  I still find it amazing that I’ve taken over 2 min/mile off of my first half marathon time from a year and a half ago.  (I’ve gone from 2:42:33 in November of ’09 to 2:15:28 today.)  It really makes me wonder what I’ll be doing in another year and a half…

Race Report: Sounds of Spring 5K

The Sounds of Spring 5K was a small race put on locally for the sole pupose of helping out one family.  Their son (who looked to be around 7 or 8 but I’m no expert on kids) is hearing impaired.  Their insurance company has denied their claims for a hearing aid, and they couldn’t afford to pay for it on their own.  Enter the running community.  All proceeds from this race went directly to that family so that their son would be able to hear the Sounds of Spring.  (It was announced at the awards ceremony that the family would be receiving a check for a little over $2,800, which should cover the entire cost of the hearing device.)

I had but one goal for today:  break 28 minutes.

The race started at 8:00, and I got there around 7:30.  I left the house a little early because I wasn’t exactly sure where the church that was hosting the race was located, and I wanted to be sure to allow myself time to find it, check in, take my race t-shirt back to the truck, stretch, etc.  While I was doing all that, I found my friend, B, that I had talked into registering for this race!  Yay!  So we chit-chatted and she introduced me to A, another friend of hers that was there.  After just a few minutes they announced that it was time to start making our way to the start line, which was probably a quarter-mile or so up the road at the top of a huge hill.  Seriously.  HUGE.  Like we were getting winded walking up it huge.  So when everyone made it to the start line, the race director yelled GO, and off we went.

I FLEW down that hill.  It was so steep that I seriously couldn’t keep from it!  But little did I know that when it leveled off that was IT in terms of elevation.  The rest of the course was pancake flat.  I slowed down tremendously after that initial decline and was running where I thought I needed to be to get my sub-28.  It wasn’t until my Garmin chimed mile 1 that I realized I hadn’t slowed down enough.

Mile 1 – 8:19.  A very unsustainable pace for me.  Woops.

But I tried to look at it from the “banked time” perspective.  I honestly didn’t feel like I was going that fast.  But it would catch up with me later.

Oh, and B?  Yeah, this was her first 5K ever and she had already passed me.  (Note to self:  Stop recruiting people unless you know they are slower than you.)

I am always so surprised at how much harder it feels for me to run on totally flat terrain.  It defies all logic, but I swear it’s true.

Mile 2 – 9:01.  Perfect.  Now just hang on to that.

And I do hang on to it for approximately 10 more seconds, and then I feel the too-fast-too-soon catching up to me.  I glanced down at my watch somewhere around 2.25 and see my pace has slowed even more to around 9:20.  Not great, but it’s enough to still get me a sub-28.  And then we rounded the final curve that put us straight into the wind.

F-word.

I hate wind.  I mean I really, really, really hate wind.  But I just hunkered down and plugged along as best I could.

Mile 3 – 9:34.  Positive splits, anyone?

When I finally saw the finish line, I knew I had met my time goal, but I kicked it in (what little bit of a kick I had left in me) anyway just to make sure no one passed me right at the finish.  (They didn’t.)

Official time – 27:51.

YAY!  Goal achieved!

After I crossed the finish line, I met back up with B (She KILLED her first 5K with a time of 25:47) and we just stood around chatting with folks and stretching until everyone finished the course, then we went inside for the awards ceremony.

I’ll spare you all the details up until the 30-34 female age group.  Some fast chick got first place, and B got second!  BIG YAY FOR B!  (Addendum to note to self:  If you continue to recruit people who might be faster than you, make sure they are not in your age group.)

And guess who got 3rd.

Go ahead.  Guess.

YUP!  It was me!  😀

Try not to be too jealous of my awesome prize.

I finally got to hear my name called at an award’s ceremony!  (I technically had a podium finish in my last 5K, but it wasn’t recognized, so it didn’t really count.)

While I’m overall happy that I met my only goal, I’m kind of disappointed that I didn’t exceed it by more.  If I hadn’t started out so fast, I feel like I could have held on better in the end.  Ah well.  Rookie mistakes.  I’ll do better next time!

Me, B & A after the race.  I am obviously incapable of NOT looking like a total two-bagger in photo these days.

A Little Bit of Both

I ran 10 miles today.  I hated it.  Then I loved it.

Let me ‘splain…

I hated it because:

  • It was cold.  (But in all fairness I would have hated it if it was hot, too.)
  • It was windy.  And not just a little bit windy.  And I swear to God, it didn’t matter if I was running north, south, east, or west, I was running INTO the wind.  How the hell does that work?
  • My out-and-back was uphill both ways.  Again with the defying physics!
  • I was hungry.  I got up and ate a Clif bar for breakfast at 7:00 with all intentions of heading right out to run.  Well, I loafed around and didn’t start until 10:00.  I should have eaten a little something else before I left, but I didn’t, and my stomach was growling by mile 2.
  • The GU I ate, took, sucked down (I never know what verb to use with GU-related activities!) at mile 5 gave me a hellacious stomach cramp.  It lasted forever and forced me to walk 0.2 of a mile at mile 7.  It finally went away.

I loved it because:

  • It burned off the fistfuls of Reese’s Pieces I ate at the movies last night.  (We saw The Adjustment Bureau–great movie!)
  • Even though I was for the most part ignoring my Garmin, despite the wind, and even including that short walk break, I finished with a pace faster than expected:  10:38 (stop laughing), a 10-mile training personal best.
  • It showed me that if I get lucky and the stars align and I have good running conditions at my half next month, I just might really be able to pull off the time goal that I’ve had floating around in my head.