Thursday, October 28, 2010

What have you done today to make you feel proud?

This was my original title for my last post - but I decided to hold it for the Half Marathon post. Which is now almost 3 weeks late. I hope that I would be able to use it to describe my experience. It's from one of my favorite running songs. I first heard it in Queer as Folk and more recently as the theme song to Biggest Loser. One day I will tackle my love/hate relationship with Biggest Loser - today is about what I'm proud of - my 2:13 finish at the BAA Half Marathon.

As everyone knew, I needed to finish my half marathon by 11am according to the BAA prerace materials. When I was at the training clinic, they toned it down to 'you need to finish 2:30 after the last person crosses the start'. That's better. I could do that. Yet, I wanted to finish this thing in 2:20. Even though I knew I'd cross the start after the 8:30am start time, I still wanted to come in before 11am.

I have to admit that this race even at 13.1 miles was a blur to me. It was a cold morning and I had to sacrifice a long sleeved tshirt to the tshirt gods at the start. As any race that has 6000 entrants, it was a shuffle to the start. But it cleared relatively quickly. Everything came together. It was a beautiful day. My playlist was right on with the songs I needed. I was checking my pace of my Garmin. What? Did that say 9:44? And I felt pretty decent. If anyone likes doing long distance endurance running, I highly recommend running with a camelback. I never paused at water stations which really helped my pace. And it was nice to have the water right when I needed it.

The BAA waxed poetic how lovely the course is. Maybe next week when more leaves changed, that would be true. You do run under some lovely trees, but this all comes down after mile 7 which marks the harder part of the course is just at its beginning. It was a very easy race until mile 8. There were no steep slopes, but lots (and I mean LOTS) of rolling hills. Around mile 9 through 11, it is very up and down on cracked and battered asphalt. Not fun. Also, it's an 'out and back'. You are passing lots of people on their way back from where you are headed. This course had a lot of that. BAA coaches boasted this fun atmosphere. It narrowed the road further and just made me think, does this ever end?

The last part was through the zoo. At this point, I am done. My legs feel like lead, but I'm still keeping under a 10:30 pace. I don't really look at the animals I'm passing. It's windy and there is a fun part where you run upslope on a dirt path. I remember thinking, are you serious? The end takes place in White Stadium on for-real track. It's a bit windy and all over the place way to get there. You think, awesome, we are there....wait...not yet? The course could be a mirage at times.

But entering the stadium with families and friends waiting and cheering you on was pretty cool. My last 1/2 marathon, I was towards the end so it was like running alone. Granted that was 729 finishers as opposed to 4498. I sprinted to the end and crossed at 2:17:50. Before 11am. Before 2:30. Before 2:20. Hot damn! According to my GPS, my finish was 2:13:31. Holy schmokes!

I knew I was doing pretty good. I felt strong most of the run. I had moments where I thought - I'm ready for this to be done now. At mile 11, I felt super awesome and I attribute that to massive runner endorphins. That feeling passed by mile 12. But at the end, I felt great. Most races, I beat myself up over my time. I always think that I could have been faster, stronger, better. Not this time. I did better than I thought I'd do. Like by a lot.

Thanks to all the well wishes and support that you've all given me. You knew I could do it when I doubted myself. You guys rock!

Now for the TMI*****

So, yeah. I rocked this 1/2 Mary. My legs feel pretty good. My bowels are not as happy. I always have this issue on long runs. I try to empty out with some coffee before. Sometimes it works and sometimes not. The combination of nerves and high sugars just frankly jack me up. A few times I thought, maybe I'll stop. I never felt that urgency so I kept going. Maybe it was good that I did. Once I did stop to - um, smell the roses - it didn't stop. I would say that I spent the last 4 hours in bowel distress with all colors of the rainbow making an appearance. Can't wait for the marathon. I may run in diaper for reals.

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