Tuesday, November 9, 2010

2010 Tom Walker Memorial Half Marathon

Hey everyone!
How have you all been?

I have been insanely busy!!! Between housesitting, babysitting, teaching 7 ballet classes, going to dance practices, going out of town for weddings, taking care of kids while their mom gives birth, running, training, etc etc I just have not been able to keep up with this blog.

Part of the problem is that I don't feel any kind of responsibility since I really have no following to speak of ;). (If you read my blog, please, be my friend!! I love friends! And I'm not ashamed to beg!)

Well you probably noticed the title of the blog post...

Yesterday I ran in my first race ever and let me tell you, I am HOOKED! So exhilarating!

If there's one thing I've learned while working out and exercising it is that something will always come up. There is almost always an excuse or a reason why you can't do it or why you're going to run slow today instead of fast or run two miles instead of four, or workout for 30 minutes instead of an hour. It's either a cramp or not enough sleep or being sore or that time of the month or too cold, too hot... the list goes on and on. If you really want to be active and get that exercise in and improve then you have to decide that no matter what you will get it done.  Well, to start things off on Thursday night right before I went to sleep a friend came to visit me.  You know, that one that visits every month.  Can I just say I started my period?  Can you say that on a blog?  Well I'm saying it.  You all know what I'm talking about anyways so why beat around the bush? 

Well, I don't know about you but usually my second and third days are just awful so I was immediately nervous about the race.  I researched some on Friday morning and I started to feel a lot less nervous.  Ifound out that being on your period shouldn't stop you at all and that running can actually improve symptoms.  On a side note, can I just say, if you have not tried them Playtex Sport are amazing, I highly recommend them.

I was also nervous about the forecast for Saturday.  We've been having unseasonably warm weather here in Florida for the past several weeks. It's been muggy and really gross and usually gets up above 85 in the afternoons. Well Florida decided to get really cold just two days before the race. I checked out the weather predictions for race day and the temperature was supposed to be around 35 degrees at the 8AM start time. Brrrr!  I haven't had many training runs in the cold at all.  You know that pain in your chest that you get when running in the cold?  I had that feeling for a 3 mile run and it was awful but I had never run longer than about 23 minutes with that awful feeling.  I was so worried that I'd get out on Saturday and my chest would hurt.  Most runners know that running is a mental sport.  I'm sure I could have run the 13.1 miles with pain in my chest but it sure would have been a lot easier mentally to run with that pain if I had at least run a 10 miles with that kind of a pain before.  I could tell myself, "you've run 10 miles before with this kind of pain in your chest, you can do 3 more miles, easy."

Well, as it turned out, I didn't have any pain at all.  As a matter of fact, it was one of the best if not the best run that I've ever had.  It was absolutely GORGEOUS!  It was freezing before and after the run but I while I was running I couldn't have asked for better weather.

I woke up around 4:45 and had a nice warm breakfast of pumpkin spice oatmeal, a large cup of water, a cup of coffee and about half a bottle of lifewater.  Yummy.  I did some core exercises before I left the house because that's always what I do when I wake up and I thought it would help warm me up some.  I left the house and went to pick up my sister and then we were off to the race location.  I'm glad that I chose a race that was so close to me for my first race.  The race was about 20 minutes from my house.  We got to the race at 7AM, an hour before the 8AM start time.  I wanted to have enough time to get the registration packet and warm up and stretch before the race.  I didn't really see anyone else getting out of their cars so we sat in the car with the heat on trying to stay warm as long as we possibly could.  It was still dark out and I wasn't sure where I was supposed to go.  We finally got out and used the restroom which was an actual restroom, not a port-a-potty. 

Then I headed over to what looked like lights in the distance.  It was pitch black out and it was really hard to see anything.  I guess we parked in the wrong area because there was a big field full of cars that was right next to the registration tables.  I picked up my packet and then we headed back to the car to warm up again.  Once it started to get light outside we hopped out of the car and headed over to the trail to stretch and warm up.  A lot of people were jogging up and down the track.  I don't know if other people get this way but I am so intimidated by other runners.  I feel like they all know what they're doing and I don't and if I'm not doing what they're doing then I must be doing something wrong.  Well, I don't usually jog around before my runs and I didn't want to jog.  I wanted to reserve all of my energy.  I did do a brisk walk up and down for about 10 minutes but I didn't jog at all.  I stretched some although not as much as I usually do.  I'm going to have to work on that for next time.

This is me demonstrating how cold it was outside.  My sister's reaction after snapping the photo "you're so cute"... uh, yeah Rach.  Don't ever let me pose like this again please.

Why yes, this is exactly what I look like when I run.  No wonder I think no one takes me seriously ;)

Turning on my watch for my pre-race warm up, gotta record all those burned calories ;)

Fuel belt, check!  I wasn't sure if I should use the fuel belt or not.  I knew they would have running stations along the way but I wasn't sure if I would have to stop and if it would slow me down.  As I saw, you just run by and grab the water/gatorade out of the volunteers hands.  I'm not sure if I'll wear it again for races.  It's not heavy but it is sort of awkward to take out the water bottles while you're running and then put them back in again and it's not like I needed more water than was provided at the water stations.  Something to ponder for the marathon.

My biggest supporter!  I think she was more excited about it than I was :).  Love you Rach!!!

See, I do sort of look like I know what I'm doing... sort of being the key words

                                             Can we just get going already so I can warm up?

I bought a pretty cool shirt about a week before the race.  I'm wearing it underneath the black underarmor long sleeve shirt.  It had a pocket in the back where you can put your ipod and a hole at the top of the pocket for your headphones to poke through.  I had Rachel rig up the ipod and the headphones and then realized as the race was just about to begin that the music was too loud and she was frantically trying to adjust my music for me.  I received several glances while during this commotion and the lady in front of me turned around and shushed me.  She probably didn't mean it offensively but it hurt my feelings a bit.  She got the sound fixed just in time for me to give her a cheesy thumbs up.  And we were off!

I really didn't know what to expect.  I had read countless websites and blogs and message boards and the one take home message I got was "don't start off too fast".  I had no idea where I should start the race.  I didn't want to start at the front cause then I'd probably start off too fast or I'd end up slowing everyone down.  I didn't want to start at the back either though cause then I'd have to be behind all those people.  I ended up starting somewhere in the middle.  I think next time I'll start closer to the front though because everyone was going wayyy slow.  I had read that everyone starts off fast.  Well, if that was fast then my slow is much faster than their slow.  I immediately started trying to get free of the pack, I knew there was no way I could run that whole race with all kinds of people crowding around me. 

I don't remember much of the beginning of the race except that there were a lot of people around me and I was trying to figure out how to get around them without wasting all my energy early and without being rude.  I started looking for mile signs pretty early on but couldn't seem to find them.  I was expecting little sign posts along the trail but at mile 4 I discovered that the numbers were taped on the ground. 

It was interesting running along and seeing people stop to take off jackets and hats, etc and then just leave them in the bushes.  I was so glad that I had forced myself to start off cold because I never felt the need to take anything off.

The people really started to thin out at this point and I was basically alone on the path.  I passed a man who was probably in his mid 30s and stayed in front of him for a bit.  He passed me by and then I passed him by again at the next water table and didn't see him until the second part of the race but I think we were pretty neck and neck for most of the race. 

Somewhere between mile 4 and mile 5 I started seeing the leaders on their way back to the finish.  It was fun to see them on their way back already but it gave me a false sense of being half way done.  I kept thinking to myself "hey, I'm almost to the half way point".  Little did I know I had about 30 minutes before I would hit that point.  I started counting the women who were on their way back.  Awards were being given to the 3 top finishers in each 5 year age group and I secretly hoped that I would win one of these awards. 

I don't remember what mile I was at but at some point I decided I wanted to have one of my energy gummies.  My fuel belt has a little zippered pocket in the back that I keep the gummies in.  Well, it took some time to unzip the bag with my gloved hands but I finally managed to unzip it and pull out the bag that the gummies were in.  Well, if I thought unzipping the pocket was difficult, it was nothing compared to trying to separate out one gummy.  I don't know what happened or when this happened but all my gummies had somehow ended up stuck together.  I guess I should have just put the whole lump in my mouth but I thought that I would be using the other ones later in the race.  I never did pull out another one, after that struggle to get the first one out I didn't want to repeat it.

I finally reached the half way mark.  I love all the volunteers who come out and cheer on the runners.  It is so encouraging.  As I rounded the orange cone that marked the half way point people started cheering for me and I pumped my fists in the air and said "yayyy, half way!"  Ouch!!  I realized I must have been gripping my fists so after that I made sure to shake out my arms every so often.

I wish I had a spiffy heart rate monitor (I do but it's not for running) that could let me know if I ran the second half faster than the first half and could break down my time for each mile.  Oh well.  I actually do know that I ran the second half faster but I can't remember how much faster anymore.  I just know that my goal was to finish in under 2 hours and at the half way mark I was really worried about making it back by my goal time.  I must have really picked up the pace after that. 

It was kind of fun seeing people still on their way to the half way point.  The best part though?  Passing people who had been ahead of me.  I'm not sure where all my energy came from but I was having the time of my life out there.  And then mile 8...

My tampon started to fall out!  I guess it wasn't really falling out out but I was starting to feel it.  Around this point that man who was running near me caught up with me, or I caught up with him... I don't really remember, I just know I thought "oh, it's you again."  He must have been struggling because he started making grunting noises like he was in pain.  I wanted to yell at him "well at least your tampon isn't falling out!"

I also started to have a lot of pain in my knees.  I just kept thinking to myself "awesome, you've been doing great through training and now you decide to be injured?  What the heck knees?"

But I didn't let them slow me down.  I ran through it.  Maybe that's why my knees still hate me right now.

The best part of the race (other than the finish of course) was around mile 10 when a deer leaped across the path.  That definitely put an extra pep in my step. 

I finally rounded a corner and could tell that there were a bunch of people gathered around so I figured I was approaching the finish line.  I started to run faster and continued to pick up my pace until I saw a white striped jacket... and then I started booking it.  I ran as fast as I could and tried to smile. 

I ran so fast I was just a blur!  Just kidding... bad picture :)

I wasn't sure exactly where to stop.  Not sure why looking back at this now.  Obviously you go until you run under the giant clock.  I kept thinking, "will they tell me when to stop?  Do I stop at the cones?  Do I keep running?"

I finished at 1:54:10!!! 

Beat my mock half marathon time by almost 5 minutes!  What an awesome feeling!

And then... I ended up coming in 3rd for my age group!!!

I came in 95 out of everyone (I think there were 174) not sure how many girls.  I am so pleased with my finishing time and I think I did wonderfully for my first race ever.

Since Saturday I've been eating, eating and eating.  Sleeping a lot.  Stretching and walking.  This week is my last week of P90X... and I've done nothing!  I need to get back on the ball.  Running again tomorrow, 15 or 17 miles on Saturday.  Back to the grind :)

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