Catholics and Cattle: Running With the Cows Race Recap (Praise Jesus, the Heartland 39.3 is Over!)

Let me come right out with it…the lovely rural Catholic school that put on this race schooled everyone.  They have a hotline to God and a knack for what they are doing, and they brought their A-game to this race.  It’s as if the hell of the Garmin half marathon (poor organization, no police presence to help get everyone to the starting line, driving rain and stinging hail) cleansed our running souls, and we finally got to see the bright shining light that is half marathon heaven.

It was beautiful (though not a PR for me…don’t want to mislead anyone!) 🙂

I’ve whined incessantly about hating the running limbo between the races, and the running purgatory gave me a serious case of nerves the day before the race, as I’d spent five weeks in a resting/taper mode before and after each half marathon.  That doesn’t exactly inspire confidence going into the third half marathon in five weeks.  My legs felt fatigued from the accumulation of racing yet strangely unprepared for another (how do the Dopey Challenge people do it?).

Image

 

source

I fixed one mistake from the last half marathon and did NOT eat Taco Bell the night before; however, I made another by playing 18 holes of golf with HH (God was not with me on the course, as I shot a 132 and therefore walked the entire course three times over looking for my ball in the rough on every dang hole.)  I couldn’t not play though…it was a gorgeous afternoon, and life is meant to be lived!

God giveth and he taketh away.  Um-hmm, that’s right.

So I woke up at 4:30 with sore legs and tight glutes.  Hell is a tight ass pre-race, because you know that means your butt cheeks will soon be pushing on your shoulder blades.

I hit the road early, determined to avoid any prerace traffic jams.  For any local readers, the sweet ladies at packet pickup told me to go past the first exit when coming south on 69 Hwy. and to exit instead at 247th Street.  This worked like a charm…there were police at the exit and at every turn directing traffic, and then there were many marvelous volunteers directing us into the field behind the church (if you parked at the first exit location, you had to bus in.)

I was parked and at the starting line in minutes.  Hooray to race organizers!

There were plenty of port-a-potties, and the church had opened up the cafeteria so that runners could get out of the cold and wait inside.  I almost died when I walked in…nice and warm, music playing (“She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy”–ha!), pastries and coffee already being served, and Queenie the Cow making the picture rounds.

Catholics do it better.

Lining up was easy.  I placed myself around the 1:55 pacer and talked to a few runners around me.  One guy had started Rock the Parkway shooting for a 1:50 and gotten sick from the heat (just like me!), walked the last 5-6 miles just so he could finish since he was doing the 39.3, but then slept through the Garmin marathon and missed it.  That’s a tough break.

The weather was beautiful (prayers were answered!  I’m telling you these people have an in), and we took off to the sounds of Van Halen…a clear sign that the man above was thinking of me, as I LOVE Van Halen (can’t remember now if they played “When Love Walks In” or “When It’s Love”).  The only thing better would have been if they’d played “Running With the Devil.”

Funny stuff.

We were off, and I felt surprisingly good for the first two miles, other than getting hemmed in right on the ass of the pacer with nowhere to move.  It took about three miles to get clear of the jostling group and make a break.  I ran ahead, talked with my old college roommate and her boyfriend for a bit, then pushed a little harder, as I was feeling very relaxed.

This was the perfect course…all country roads, completely closed off, plenty of room to run, and no huge elevation changes, just gentle rolling hills.  It was varied enough to keep it interesting, and I enjoyed the slight challenge of the hills and the respite of the downhill portions.  It would be a great course to try and set a PR…and might I add that the occasional smell of cow manure can prove mighty inspiring?  🙂

To the cows at Mile 6…I hope you feel better soon!  Eat some fiber!

Now as we all know, the devil is in the details (are you getting sick of the religious references yet?), and the race delivered.  Have I mentioned the aid stations?  They were everywhere, manned by different grades of the school with parent helpers.  They had signs indicating which side had Gatorade and which had water, and the kids also yelled out what they were holding.  They also had trays of orange slices and bananas…these people were saints!  I can’t count how many thanked me for running as I passed.

Are you serious?  Thank you for hosting!  For being organized!  For everything!  Hosanna in the highest (I remember my Catholic school days!)  These kids were amazing…I wanted to hug them all for being so sweet.

I sipped my Nuun and ate 2-3 Honey Stingers before most aid stations, chasing it with water supplied by little angels.

My splits for the first seven miles:

9:05, 8:53, 8:41, 8:39, 8:40, 8:34, 8:33…consistent.  Not earth-shattering, but fun and comfortable.  I enjoyed every minute of them.

I started to feel fatigued around Mile 8, not too far after the turnaround point, and my splits started dropping a bit, just when I was hoping to have enough energy to start ramping them up.  I didn’t feel bad, just a bit tired, and I wondered if general race fatigue from the previous two races and little serious running in-between was catching up with me.  Still, I wasn’t dizzy or nauseous (yet), and I could still run, just not at quite the pace I would have liked.

I really drew inspiration in these miles from watching the slower runners still coming up the front half of the race.  I saw such spirit and determination in those people, and I tried to shout some encouragement to them as I passed.  I don’t know if it helped them, but seeing their struggle sure helped me.  I wasn’t setting a trailblazing pace, but I was cooking up a decent race, and I was thankful.

Best sign of the race?  The one that said “There will be a day when you cannot run.  Today is not that day!”

That sign sums up the whole reason why I run, and it gave me inspiration (it didn’t give me any more speed, unfortunately, but it gave me a smile and happy thoughts, which is worth a lot too!)

I thought I had built up about a 2-minute lead on the 1:55 pacer, and I felt fairly strong.  I passed the guy I’d talked to at the beginning of the race, just as he was stopping to stretch his quad.  I shouted some encouragement as I chicked him, but that may not have helped him, upon reflection.

I tried to run more by feel in Miles 8-10, as I was starting to fight some low energy and didn’t want to get hung up on pace.  I thought I was pushing hard and that I was still well ahead of the pacer…in fact, I was beginning to think that maybe I would end up under 1:54.  I was starting to feel a little nauseated though, and it was getting pretty warm, so I was hesitant to try and make a push.  Still, though, my discomfort wasn’t severe like Rock the Parkway.

I need to stop ignoring my Garmin, because every time I do, my natural inclination is apparently to go slower (my splits were 8:42, 8:48 and 8:48 for Miles 8-10).

Right at the Mile 11 mark and just before the last hill, I saw the 1:55 stick wiggle up next to me, and there she was like Satan on my shoulder…the pacer.  She had caught up with me, like past sins or too many pieces of birthday cake.

It was like my entire running ego was shoved into one big balloon, and she poked it with her damn pacer stick and left it all on the road.

It’s hard to process a full-on depression attack while still running.  I was just so instantly deflated for some reason, and whatever spirit those Catholic kids had given me evaporated faster than you can make the sign of the cross.

I tried to tell myself that though I was moving slower than I’d thought, I was still running an enjoyable solid race.  I put my eyes on that stick and chased it like it was the last bus to Heaven.  Just stay close, I told myself, but I was seriously adrift spiritually and physically, and I needed food in the worst way.

I’m not proud of my Mile 11-13 splits (8:57, 8:52, and 8:42), but I can’t really complain either.  I was still conscious, I didn’t have to stop to walk, which I was starting to see a lot of, and I didn’t lose track of the Satan pacer.

I crossed the finish line in 1:55:30 to the cheering of a great crowd, the ringing of numerous cowbells and the smell of home cooked food waiting in the church cafeteria.

I stopped to grab a bottle of water in the finish chute, and a volunteer thanked me (again!) for running.  I told her that I should be thanking her and that this was the best race I’d ever participated in.  She was thrilled and introduced me to the lady next to her, who was the organizer of the run…lucky me!  I had the chance to thank her in person and tell her how much it meant to me (and I’m sure the other runners as well!)

Hi Liz Meek, and thanks again!  Isn’t she nice?  She even put her arm around me, and I was a sweaty disgusting mess!

Image

Now here is where the race organizers (kudos, Liz!) came through yet again.  The spread inside that church was something to behold.  Here is a pic of just one table, and there were several…

Image

Pulled pork, hot dogs, hamburgers, McDonald’s and Panera, chicken salad, baked beans, Hostess cupcakes, fresh fruit, etc.–they had it all, not to mention numerous side tables with homemade cakes, pastries, etc., and samples from the Corner Bakery Cafe.  It was overwhelming.

To whoever made the chicken salad…I applaud you.  Your chicken salad made my day.  Please make it again next year.  Peace be with you.

I ate my food (eat all the food!), then wandered over to the outside coffee vendor (they had coffee inside and outside…these are my kind of people!)  He said that he’d had several people wander up and ask him why people would want coffee on such a warm morning, and we had a good laugh about it, because coffee drinkers don’t care if it’s 100 degrees outside, they want their coffee!

Amen to that.

After collecting my shiny medals (blingtastic!), I took another pic with Queenie the Cow and hit the road…

Image

I checked my numbers once I got home and was reasonably pleased to see that I finished in the top 9% of my age group (angelic shebeasts 40-44) and in the top 23% overall.

So my final numbers for the series were 1:54, 1:56, and 1:55.  Not what I had hoped for , but respectable.  Will I do the Heartland 39.3 series again?  I really don’t know.  The limbo in-between races was torture, yet the feeling of completing three in five weeks is a good one.

After experiencing Running With the Cows, though, I might just try to target it next spring as a solo race with the hope of chasing a PR.  Regardless, I will be back to run this incredible race again (with God as my copilot!) 😉

And would you believe I played nine more holes of golf on Saturday afternoon?  I was exhausted by Saturday evening.

Happy running, and I hope you had a happy Mother’s Day (mine was wonderful!)  Thanks for reading!

 

Advertisements

Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad*–Garmin Half Marathon Recap

Image

(I can’t find the source for this…don’t hate me!)

*Alternate Title:  The Race Where I (Did NOT) Set Fire to the Rain

*Alternate Title:  The Race Where It Fucking Hailed On Me

Half Marathon 2 of 3 in the Heartland 39.3 Series is in the books, readers, and it was one of the strangest races I’ve ever run.  As strange as fighting vomit for 7 miles and losing feeling in my fingers?  No, but strange in a different sort of way, and looking back, “There ain’t no way I’m ever gonna love you,” Garmin Half Marathon 2014!

Pre-Race

I’m giving myself a C for race prep in the few days prior to the race.  Maybe because I wasn’t expecting a PR after the previous debacle and given that my legs didn’t quite feel funky fresh, I threw caution to the wind a bit.  On the advice of PirateBobcat, I had wine.  We were out late Thursday night at a fundraiser…

I cleaned up!  HH was stunned…

Image

To make matters worse, we had Taco Bell for dinner Friday night (bad circumstances.)  I just knew that was going to come back to bite me in the ass…perhaps literally.

I got up on time, fueled and geared up, then hit the road.  The Garmin half marathon runs at the same time as the full.  This was my marathon last year (my first marathon, so special memories galore.)  The race was scheduled to start at 7:00.  I reached the highway exit at 6:12…and twenty minutes later still hadn’t made it off the exit ramp and onto the highway overpass.  Traffic was trés hideous, and there were no police officers ANYWHERE.  I hate to be negative, but that was ridiculous.  This is a big event, and a showcase race for the city of Olathe, yet no one was around to help direct traffic, and there were a million of us sitting around with worried looks, all lined up in our cars with our cheesy running stickers on the back.

I finally got over the overpass at 6:35, just as I saw one officer passing on a motorcycle to head to the ramp.  Way too late.  Then as i approached the Garmin complex, I saw that there still was no one directing traffic into the complex (which was a steady stream of red lights), so I had no way of knowing if the lots were full or at capacity.  I ended up parking behind a tire and lube shop with a bunch of other runners.  We all flew out of our cars (after I dumped a salt packet under my tongue and grabbed my brand-new handheld water bottle filled with Nuun) and tried to do an energy-conserving 10-minute hustle across the complex to the starting area.

Lots of port a potties…and lots of lines thirty deep to gain access.  I could hear the announcer telling everyone not to worry and reminding us that it was chip time, not gun time that mattered.  Um, yeah right.  I knew what I was in for, and I was right.

Pre-Race Grade: C-.  Eating Taco Bell as preface fuel?  Not being ready at the starting line when the gun goes off?  Boo.

Race Time!

I held on to the side of a port a potty, swung my legs a few times and hit the starting line with the 5-hour + marathoners and the 3:00 + half marathoners.  I’ve never started a race so far back.  It was like bizarro world to see the thousands of runners in front of me (many of whom never got to go to the bathroom one last time!), and it was a truly novel situation to be back with that kind of runner.

Here I go bitching, mostly for laughs, but with one caveat.  These people were awesome.  They were chasing down a half marathon dream, and they were lined up appropriately.  They were doing nothing wrong, and their spirit was incredible.  I wanted to yell encouragement to every single one of them!

But it was a ginormous wave of tutus, matching running group t-shirts with cute sayings (“no maps! no coaches! where’s breakfast?”), groups running five abreast, run-walkers (3 minutes jog, 1 minute walk, and always right as I ended up behind them!) and wide lumbering runners, and I had to work to get past every single one of them in order to be able to run my pace that I was striving for…which took time and energy.

Remember my list of the Ten Types of People Who Annoy Me During Races?  Meet #11 and #12…the person who wears an unnecessary layer and gets so hot, so fast, that she has to strip it off in the first three minutes of a race when everyone is still bottlenecked and her big swinging elbows are a danger to everyone around her AND the person who runs REALLYYYYYYY slow but hugs the left side of the street right along the curb so you can’t get by her.

I tried to minimize the weaving but get to my pace as fast as I could.  It was just a lot of work, but I just hoped that I would soon break through the logjam.

Splits for the first two miles = 8:55 and 8:50.  Not what I wanted, but my legs felt fine and I passed a ton of people.

By Miles 3-5, the marathoners broke off and I needed to make up some time.  Yet, looking back, I see that I didn’t, and I don’t know why, really.  I could tell that I got lulled into a slower pace a few times because of the other runners.  I was trying to run more on feel and less on watch-checking, and I found myself a couple of times running pretty comfortably with a group of reasonably fit runners, then suddenly realizing that I wasn’t really pushing very hard.  It felt good, I was high-fiving kids and saying thank you to supporters and volunteers, but I wasn’t really going for it.  I was a little scared from my last half, I think, and I was soaking up how nice it was to be feeling normal again.

Splits for Miles 3-7 = 8:38, 8:40, 9:03 (major hill), 8:52, 8:55.  Unimpressive looking back, but like I said, I really wasn’t paying attention.  I should have.  These are not difficult paces.  I didn’t push it real good.

The rain started in the ninth mile.  A sprinkle or two fell, which was fine.  Then the sprinkles turned into a shower, which then turned into DRIVING POURING SHEETS OF STINGING SIDEWAYS RAIN AND MY GOD I COULDN’T SEE.  I kept trying to wipe my eyes, but my hands were so wet.  Nothing helped.  Everyone went silent, except for someone yelling behind me, “I’m melting!”, which went great with the Wizard of Oz theme.  The drops were huge, and they kind of hurt.

It was a quiet group of determined runners who quickly got more determined once we started seeing the lightning.  Picture if you will (and I think you will) me plowing along, mouth open gasping at times because I was getting so cold and soaked.  Throw in a few worried faces and a lot of splashes, and you’ve got Miles 8-10.  It was difficult to run through, even sprinkled with the motivation that was lightning, and I knew I was running slow, though it felt like close to max effort.  I didn’t look at my watch.  I couldn’t see it anyway.

Splits for Miles 8-10 = 8:43, 8:41, 9:04.  Sigh.

The streets flooded quickly, and we all ended up running through rivers pouring down the streets.  I saw one guy in front of me stop to ask a police officer a question, which I assumed was, “Are they calling it?” or “Are we safe?”, but I couldn’t hear what the policeman said.  My thoughts were only of my car three miles ahead and the fact that I don’t love racing enough to die for it.  Unfortunately, this was the point where I started to feel fatigued, like the previous half marathon two weeks prior was catching up with me.  I was fine and running hard, I just knew that I wasn’t running very fast.

Then the hail hit…extra unfortunate.  Misery, thy name is marble-sized hail falling on my head.

A chorus of “ow”s and a few curse words (those might have come from my mouth), but otherwise silence, except for one tremendous reverberating burp let out by a delicate-looking gal in a tunnel.  I’ll give her credit for great timing.

I thought my pants were going to fall down.  My feet were soaked.  I knew my time wasn’t anything outstanding.  Yet I wasn’t experiencing the physical pain of two weeks prior, where my brain consciously uncoupled from my body in pain.  I was running, I was present, and I was about to wrap up my second half marathon in two weeks.  I had nothing to hang my head about, even if I was capable of better.  There are many joys in racing, and they don’t always come with a PR attached.  My legs weren’t giving me my best, but it was okay, as long as I didn’t die and it ended eventually.

I splashed on.  Looking back, I’m surprised at how slow my 13th mile was–8:48.  In comparison, two weeks ago when I was just trying to get to the medical tent, I put up an 8:27.  My last 1/10 on Saturday?  An 8:58 in comparison with a 7:52 two weeks ago during my out-of-body experience.  So weird.  It was the best I could give at that moment, I guess, so I need to live with that.  It’s not like I wasn’t aching to finish–I just was spent!

I rode the wave of water in and finished in 1:56:23, a shockingly bad number.  I was so wet that I didn’t care, and given that I’d started so far back, I had no sense of how good it would be in comparison with other runners.  I ran into two friends (also running the Heartland 39.3 and very strong runners) who told me their legs were also a bit fatigued, which made me feel better.  I shivered my way home and walked in the door to the laughs of HH and the boys.  I could not stop shaking.  I had the best hot shower of my life.

Race Grade: B -.  The Taco Bell stayed put, I was conscious for all of the race and ran reasonably hard in terms of effort, but the hail and rain was godawful, the course was incredibly boring for much of the last three miles winding constantly through residential streets (run one block, turn, run another, turn) and my paces were dismal.

Final numbers?  14/184 in my Shebeasts 40-44 smoking hot division (top 7%), 183/1317 for women (top 14%), and 550/2199 overall (top 25%).

I took some solace in the numbers and spent the rest of the day doing my best Lili Von Shtupp around the house (“I’m tired!  Tired of playing the game!  Ain’t it a crying shame!  I’m so tired.  God dammit I’m exhausted!”)

Let’s face it…everything below the waist is kaput!

Now I rest and regroup one more time for the third half marathon, Running With the Cows!  I share this video because it makes me want to run, right now, and that’s pretty amazing given the state of my legs.  If you watch this, look for the dancing and clapping priest.  He makes my day (but the older lady terrifies me.)

The word on the street is that the postrace food here is fantastic…lots of Catholic ladies make homemade food!  I can’t wait to finish the trifecta, and I will be keeping my fingers crossed for no freaking hailstorms!

 

Close is a Lingerie Store Without a Front Window: Rock the Parkway Race Recap*

*Alternate title A: Boy, did I Suck

*Alternate title B: I Laid Off Booze for This?

*Alternate title C: At Least I Didn’t Have to Shit Myself

Let me set the tone for my race recap with this telling statement:  I only made it to the finish line because I knew that’s where the medical tent was…and that’s not a lie.

I am frustrated and fired up over yesterday’s disappointing performance.  Did I meet any of my three tiered goals (sub 1:55, a PR if under 1:52, a piss-myself-with-joy balls-to-the-wall-HeavyT-style pipe dream of sub 1:50?)  Yes.

The lowest one.  

Boo.  I finished at 1:54:12, 850 out of 4931 (top 17% overall), 31 of 469 for a top 7% finish in my age group of 40-44 year old gorgeous shebeasts (and as HH pointed out, still a respectable top 17% in my Heavy T age group of men 40-44).  I should take some solace from those numbers, because it’s a damn miracle that there isn’t a DNF by my name.

I hydrated to the gills.  I ingested so much salt to try to get my blood pressure up for the race.  I STAYED AWAY FROM WINE ALL WEEK.

But some things are just beyond control, and that’s the joy and pain of racing.  You spend 12-16 weeks training and hoping for your best day, and it doesn’t always happen.  The stars don’t always align.

Sometimes you show up in bright Smurf shoes and you just don’t get it done.

I have to say that it was so fun having HH with me in the morning.  He had tweaked his back on Friday and spent much of the evening on ice.  I was so worried about him running, but he just laughed it off and said he hoped not to have to be pulled off the course on a stretcher.  I filled out his emergency info on the back of his bib just in case.

I had my usual pre-race breakfast of scrambled eggs and a banana and also sipped some Nuun.  We laughed all the way to the course and repeated our mottos.  Don’t shoot out of the gate like a freak.  Power and poise!  Don’t you go dying on me!

I freaked when we got out of the car and I realized that my bottle of Nuun was leaking.  I had to leave it at the car.  I knew that could be a problem, because I really count on the electrolytes and salt to keep my blood pressure up.

Prerace selfie…we are so going to own this race!  Heavy T wore a pink headband so people would know she is a woman…

Image

It was so hot.  Tuesday was the first spring run where I was able to head out in shorts and a tank, and there we were at the starting line in 65-degree sunny humid weather.  Not good at all.

Still, can I admit that I was so excited and confident?  I knew I was at least up for a PR.  I lined up just behind the 1:50 pacers.  And we were off…and it was great.

I hung with the pacers and enjoyed the first several miles.  My splits were 8:48, 8:39, 8:38 and 8:10 for the first four.  The hills didn’t feel that bad, but the temperature was uncomfortable.  I ate a few Honey Stingers at around the 35-minute mark and planned on eating another bunch at around 1:20.  That didn’t end up happening, as I was in the throes of a major physical episode (major foreshadowing.) 

I ran Mile 5 at an 8:13.  And the wheels started to come off midway through that mile.  What’s weird is that I never felt like it was lactic acid.  My muscles never burned, and I never felt like I couldn’t catch my breath.  What hit me was just an onslaught of nausea, chills and shaking.  I was trembling, and my body just felt so tired, so suddenly.  I let the pacers move on ahead and prayed that it was just a temporary issue.  I can catch them, I thought.  Fucking positive thinking.  

Two or three minutes later, I took my first walk break, something I’ve never done in a half.  It was walk or puke.  I walked for ten seconds. The feeling passed a bit, and I ran again.

I took six walk breaks from that point on, and debated quitting about a thousand times.  Many others were walking too–more than I expected to see, given that we were all runners from the 1:59 and under wave.  I wanted to cry.

I grabbed Gatorade at the next several water stations and cursed my leaking Nuun bottle sitting back at the parking lot.  My entire body was in a fog, and I just rode the waves of holding in vomit/shaking/chilling while trying to keep moving forward and maintain consciousness.  I was in real danger of fainting.

My splits for Miles 6-8 were 8:20, 8:23, and 9:11.  Obviously, Mile 8 was a difficult one.  I can look at those splits now with the perspective of being a day removed and take a little pride in the fact that I managed two sub 8:30 miles while fighting death or a hypoglycemic coma (ha! the drama!), but there was no pride to be had in my heart at that time, only anger and disappointment in myself and my ability.

Splits for Miles 9-11 were horrid at 8:55, 8:57 and 9:21.  Not the negative split I was hoping for, but then I never could have anticipated that I would be coaxing myself through such a spectacular flameout.  Heavy T was hurting, folks!

I convinced myself to finish only because I knew that’s where I could get some medical attention.  I have never thought that in my life!  Talk about pathetic!  My only consolation was that the 1:55 pacers hadn’t swept me yet, although they had been a solid two minutes behind me at the start.  If they had, I might have summoned my last bit of strength to steal their stick and shove it up their asses.

I never saw HH, who had lined up behind me.  I didn’t even care if he passed me.  All I could think for him was, “Be okay.”  I saw a woman off to the side around Mile 11, cradled by bystanders who were pouring water into her mouth.  Her eyes were glazed.  No one was home.  Hell, neither was I.

Jesus, I was in a war zone 🙂

I was cold, but I couldn’t really feel my fingers.  I touched them together at one point to see if I could feel them.  I had no real sensation, but I could feel that they were super hot, which was so strange because other parts of my body were so cold.

I hope there’s a race pic of me hobbling along touching my fingers together…that would be hysterical in a shoot-me-now kind of way.

I ran by some chick sitting on her ass yelling, “One mile to go!” and almost kicked her in the face.  Must have been the testosterone, but bitch was lying and I knew it.  Don’t fake us out!

I got up to a downright miraculous 9:11 for Mile 12, as visions of IVs and paramedics danced through my head.  Then, by something more like desperation but which I shall call mental fortitude, I zipped it up to an 8:27 for Mile 13 (all downhill.)  Mama needs either a drip or a gun to the head…whatever will make the fog lift.  I did not want to puke.  I have my standards.

I am proud to say that I kicked ass on the last 1/10th of a mile with a 7:52 sprint.

And that’s a race!  Disappointed and frankly pissed, I approached the medal holders and picked a kid that I thought had Down’s Syndrome to take my medal from.  As I got closer, I realized that he did NOT have it…just had a bad haircut.  See what I mean?  I wasn’t right in the head (I mean worse than usual, of course.)

I got my chip cut off, and decided to walk for a minute to see if I could pull myself together or if it was tent time.

I am proud to say that after a few minutes, I was better.  

HH crossed the finish line in 1:59:09, hobbled but proud.  His back gave him trouble, but he ran a smart race and had a great time before his wheels fell off around Mile 9.  He met his goal of coming in sub 2:00.

And I met my lowest goal.  I did laugh when I looked at my Garmin stats and saw that at one point, I briefly hit a 6:43 pace.  When the hell did that happen?

Now I reflect.

What happened?  Can you offer any advice?  Was it hypoglycemia, low blood pressure, or some combo (I know they are linked, and I get both sometimes, but I try so hard to put myself in the best possible position to overcome it.)?  Was it heat stress?

Or, dear God, was I just running beyond my ability?  That would be hard for me to accept, because I worked hard this training cycle AND because I just didn’t feel like the pace was beyond me until the nausea hit.  I was running comfortably and confidently…power and poise!

It reminded me of when the epidural didn’t work while delivering my second, and the pain was so bad that I was puking, and the nurse was yelling at me that I needed to stop puking so I could push, and I wished a painful and immediate death upon her and the members of her family.  It would have been great to just put the nausea aside and run faster, but sometimes it just ain’t that easy!

I welcome any advice.  I feel like I am never going to achieve my sub 1:50 goal if I don’t get a handle on what happened, and I am sad.  Am I just not fast enough or good enough?  Maybe it’s just not in the cards for me…

I maybe should have waited another day to post so I would be less emotional, but this is just how I am feeling.  Thanks for reading!  I should add that HH and I had a lovely afternoon talking over the shared experience, we had our first cookout of the season with the boys and had a great family night, complete with lots of time outside sipping rosé and enjoying the evening.  I think we both earned it, right?

I was just happy not to be prone in the medical tent here postrace…

Image

Image

As an extra bonus, a pic of HH’s postrace blisters….let this be a lesson to you kids out there…blisters suck!

Image

 

 

 

Waddell and Reed Half Marathon Race Recap: It Was Real, and It Was Spectacular

The memories from Saturday’s half marathon will hold a place in my running heart forever.  I didn’t stick with my training.  I skipped and shorted many weekday runs.  I skipped several long runs and maxed out at 9 miles too many weeks ago.  As I described in my post last week, I didn’t know if I’d be able to finish, and I’ve never raced without feeling at least reasonably prepared.  I really worried that given my lack of training and my constant inability to manage my pace and slow down during races, I wouldn’t be able to complete the distance.

Let’s cut to the chase.  Girlfriend spent Saturday night with the family drinking this fine bottle of Burgundy and savoring this medal…a reminder of the most fun I have ever had during a race.

Image

Preparation

I went into the expo on Friday feeling a little dejected about my preparation.  The expo was huge, and seeing all those runners and booths with gear, fuel, etc. got me all fired up, which made me mad at myself for not being ready to kick ass.  Does that make sense?  I knew I had cheated myself out of the chance to have a great run, and the expo just reminded me of that.  Not only was I not set up for a shot at a PR, but I wouldn’t be able to sub 2:00, which was a personal line in the sand I drew a few years back.

Still, the t-shirt was cool, and I tried to think of the expo as a good reminder of why I love this sport.  The loneliness of the long distance runner is a very real thing (unless you run and/or train in a group, which I do not because I am a peculiar flower), and it’s always exciting to see the other freaks crawl out of the woodwork and emerge for bib pickup.

I left and decided to drive the course.  I freaked a little at first because there were several long gradual inclines and one MF of a hill around the 2.5 mark.  Then I became hopeful, because the course was largely flat and downhill from about Mile 4 to 8.5.  After another steady gradual hill from the 8.5 to 10 mile mark, the course was flat or downhill the rest of the way.

What a great course.  Damn, I was mad!

I hydrated and made my playlist (always a huge thing for me…I even plan my songs around hills and my anticipated pace so that I will hear the right songs at the right times).  I ate pasta for lunch, but then changed up my pre-race routine and ate a hamburger and fries for dinner.  I was feeling weak (not enough protein in my lunch?) and needed to load up on salt for my low blood pressure.  I poured half a shaker on those fries.  Yum.

Race Morning

This should go down in history as a big fat F.  The weather was really cold (36 degrees) and I couldn’t decide what to wear (I chose well, thank goodness, and decided to wear my compression sleeves at the last second hoping they would help my blood pressure…and I think they did!)  That was the only thing I did right.

I couldn’t go to the bathroom before I left the house.  Bummer!  Then I arrived at the course and ran into a coworker of HH’s.  As we were chatting, I looked down at his shoe and screamed, “I forgot to chip!  I forgot to chip!”  He just stared at me, evidently not realizing that I was using “chip” as a verb and then probably thinking that I was the biggest toolbox in the world.

So I had to run around in the dark to find the information tent and get a new chip and bib.  This all happened with less than five minutes before the race, and I was hunched over in the dark lacing on a new chip as I heard the national anthem being played over at the starting line.  I didn’t stretch, I didn’t warm up unless you count running across the grass frantically, and I thought my heart was going to explode, even though I knew I had no shot at a must-be-counted-type race and that I had my stopwatch anyway.  It still mattered.  Of course it mattered.

I ended up squeezing in at a side entrance to the corral just as the gun sounded.  I was a wreck.  Everything had gone wrong.

Anxiety Girlsource

Then I heard the chosen song flood out of the speakers–A-Punk by Vampire Weekend.  And I knew I would be okay.  Seriously.  I told myself that my running base would see me through, and that I would finish.  That song was a sign.  It’s all about me, right?  God was talking to ME!

The marathon and half marathon started together.  The crowd was huge.  There were 7100 runners in the half marathon alone.  Though this would normally bother me, the cluster in those first few miles was just fine, as it helped me get loose and ease into things.

That’s the first time I’ver ever done that in a race.

I weaved a little, but not much.  I watched the marathoners cluster around their pacers and felt a huge pang of sympathy and also jealousy knowing the journey they were embarking on and remembering how I felt in the first few miles of my marathon.

I watched the sun come up as we crossed a bridge heading south out of the downtown and took a second to think about strategy.  Though my usual strategy is as simple-minded as “Take off like a bat out of hell until you think you’re going to die!”, I knew I needed a plan with a little more finesse.  I decided to ignore the pacers, follow my own energy levels and keep my pace fairly consistent.  I ran the first crowded mile at around a 10:00 pace, and I didn’t freak out about it like I normally would.  It was all very zen-like, which is unusual for tightly-wound me.  I did get a little pissed, though, when I realized that my app was shuffling my songs and not playing them in my specific anal order.  I heard a couple of my high energy songs in those first two miles, and I had to force myself to hold back.

We hit the first big hill just as VW’s Cousins started though…perfect timing, as that song makes me spazz out.

This is the hill as seen from my car on Friday…it is not to be trifled with.

ImageI was surprised at how easy it was.  Shocked, really.  We crested the top, and I had my first reality check—I was feeling strong!

Me and my cousins, and you and your cousins
It’s a line that’s always running
Me and my cousins, and you and your cousins
I can feel it coming

I tried not to get overconfident.  Though I was feeling good, I knew that I wasn’t really prepared, and I didn’t want to dial it up because I was anticipating hitting the wall around Mile 8-10.  I decided to kick things up just a tiny notch and told myself that banking some seconds wasn’t a totally bad idea as long as I didn’t get too crazy.

I can sum up the next 4-5 miles pretty quickly.  I just felt better and better.  I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed running so much during a race.

I had to force myself to hold back, because I was anticipating a crash.  I had my app programmed to give me pace feedback every four minutes, and if I heard it get below 8:30, I slowed down.  I wanted to finish, not flame out, and I seriously feared the wall due to my lack of prep.  I was afraid I would fall off a cliff.  It took discipline…something I usually lack.

I sipped on G2 and ate 5 Honey Stingers about 45 minutes in, which worked perfectly.  My blood pressure stayed up, I didn’t have any heart palpitations or dizzy/nauseous spells, and I felt so damn good!

I realized at about the 8 mile mark that I could finish under 2:00.  If I could get to the 10 mile mark before the 1:30 mark, I could coast through the last three flat and downhill miles at even a 10:00 pace if I was crashing and still finish under 2 hours.  Holy Crap!  I just had to get through one more climb of about 150 feet!

Oh my god…it was seriously so easy.

I turned it loose for the last three miles.  I got a little barfy around Mile 12 when I went under an 8:00 pace for a bit, so I dialed it back a touch, but not much.  I have never felt so good finishing a race.

Image

F yeah!  Not my best time, but my best race ever.  Who would have thought?

Gee, Your Splits Smell Terrific

Image

Love seeing this…and this…

Image

Let me crunch the numbers.

65/439 for my division (Strong Young Women Ages 40-44) = Top 15%

638/3600 for my gender (that would be female) = Top 18%

Those are numbers I can live with.

Kudos to the race organizers…everything was incredible.  As we approached downtown in the last mile or so, they had a guy yelling at us that we were in the first two thousand runners and that 10,000 combined race runners were behind us.  Man, that felt good!

Boo to the lady that I got hung up with around the Mile 11-12 mark who was belching like I don’t know what without apology and drifting something awful, making it hard to pass her and get out of her Gu-induced burp cloud.  Lady, I think you’d had enough Gu for one day…and run a straight line for God’s sake!

And kudos to the sign holders…lots of signs about running better than our government, and one sign saying, “Honey, hurry home!  The laundry’s piling up and the kids are fighting!”  I saw this sign right around the time I heard four texts come in on my phone rapid fire.  After the race, I checked them—they were all from my older son about a homework assignment.  Seriously?  I’m a little busy doing my thing right now, sweetie!  We can talk when I get home!

Thanks for reading my race recap and for all the support!  I think the lessons learned here are that:

  1. I got lucky.
  2. A strong running base is still our friend, even when training goes poorly.
  3. Vampire Weekend songs have magical powers.