My race highlight: I met…
I kid. I wasn’t even talking to him, but this picture makes it look like we’re about to celebrate together with post-race beers. We actually aren’t, like really really aren’t, because he passed me around mile 7 and didn’t swoop me up in spidey-like fashion and carry me to the finish line to beat my goal time. And so I ran those last 7ish miles, and he finished before me. Hurumph.
Nonetheless, overall race day was a success.
Half Marathon – 13.1 mi // Time: 1:37:05 // 7:24 min/mi
I woke up at 5am to dry pavement, but upon triple checking the weather forecast I was disappointed to learn that rain was still forecasted with 100% likelihood to start at 7am. I’d been stalking the weather report for days hoping for freezing cold over rain, but alas race morning had arrived with guaranteed wetness. Drat. I stood at my computer and silently hoped I wouldn’t have to stand around waiting for the race to start with my gear soaking up all that heavy, chafing, and cold water. Then I let the thought pass. Nothing I can do about it anyway, but I can get ready for this race!
After my tumultuous relations with weather.com I downed some coffee, ate my favorite breakfast (AKA peanut butter banana toast DUH), stretched out, peed 107.5 times, and soon it was time to head out the door to the start line. Given that the start line is 3/4 mi from our front door it seemed silly to drive, so I ran as a pre-race warm-up to get my heart pumping and keep my legs warm. I gathered my belongings, double checked my race belt for my gu’s, grabbed my trash bag in case my worst weather nightmares came true, and closed the door behind me. Not until then did it really feel like race day.
I was so prepared for everything, except for the fact that the temperature was so mild that I was sweating buckets under my throw-away sweats by the time I reached the start. I arrived, downed my water I had run with, and hunted the water station down for a few refills. Once I peed 32 more times and got myself set up with a full cup of water I was ready to camp out until race start in a more horizontal position (not on my feet). I found some dry concrete under the overhang at EMP and sat down, and within minutes a few folks followed and we all became quick race day friends. A fellow triathlete from the area, a runner from Sonoma, and I ran through the usual race day topics including the weather, the porta potty set up, race goals, fashion choices (Did you see all the Waldos out there? Really, like, runners dressed up as Where’s Waldo?), post-race plans, and future race plans. Eventually though we all had to part ways for one last pee and to cue ourselves up in the starting line just so.
I hopped the guard rails to get in where I wanted and sifted through the sea of around 8k bodies to try to find the 1:35 pacer. Eventually I spotted him, along with a teammate, and we all huddled together to try to establish our group and space amongst starting chaos. All of a sudden the final countdown was on and runners began to shift forward at a snail’s pace, and we were off!
The first 5 miles were an exhausting game of follow the leader. So many people mis-seeded themselves up front, and our pacing group of 6 or so had to do some serious zig zagging to stay together and on pace. Combine that with water-filled potholes and it was stop! go! left! right! leap! repeat! until we got through the I-90 tunnel and down into Leschi. At which point I felt so mentally exhausted from trying to follow in the leader’s path that I let the pacing group go and did my own thing. With every passing mile I was expending more energy, and I was worried about what that would mean at mile 10, 11, and 12. I felt sad as they drifted away, knowing that my 1:35 goal was drifting away with them, but I tried to keep going and hoped to stay close far behind.
The next couple miles I beat myself up, a lot. How could I have let them go by? I could have held my own, right? They had to have evened out at some point unless the 1:35 group was going to hit 1:33, but perhaps they took the hills slowly? I should have stayed I should have stayed I should have stayed. I suck I suck I suck. Okay, eat your Gu, shut up, and keep running. I suck. Shut up. Okay.
I was happy to get to the Madison hill if for no other reason than to have pain to concentrate on, and when I got down the far side I heard my family yelling my name. Hi family! I didn’t expect to see them there and they gave me the extra boost I needed to push myself down the hill and use gravity to my advantage. I flew by and before I knew it we were at Interlaken climbing up and up and up. At that point Coach Ryan was there cheering, reminding me to relax and RUN. Another great point for a smiling face between climbs. At this point I realized how quiet much of the course had been; between the pouring rain and off the beaten path course there really hadn’t been many wild spectators, especially in comparison to Boston & the RnR Seattle. I enjoyed the quiet sound of wet feet hitting the pavement so much that when the crowd got rowdy with shrieking and horns I felt caught off guard, like something sacred was being interrupted.
Once I got to the flat portion of Interlaken I knew I’d survive, but I had a hard time quickening my pace to make up time. I wasn’t running particularly fast but tried every trick I know of to speed up my step. Quick feet, concentrating on lifting your legs up rather than pushing off, lean forward as a plane from the ankles, focus 15 feet in front and will yourself forward. But it just wasn’t happening for me. The more energy I put into moving fast, the slower I traveled. So, I found a 7:20 pace and tried to lock into it as best I could and go by rhythm and feel. I finished up Capitol Hill, crossed I-5, and tried to bring it home. I had flashes of the painful downhills in Boston, but this pain was nothing of the sort. My legs weren’t so dead this time around, but my hips were achy and my lungs were breathing fire, not air.
At the last little uphill, less than .5 mi from the finish line I got cheered in by favorite friend and her husband. I was in such a daze I hardly responded or acknowledged them, but to Courtney and Thomas THANK YOU for getting me up that hill. Perfect placement, because I would have been really embarrassed to half ass it in front of you guys with so little left to go.
Then the race was done, and we got some breakfast, and I feel really lazy today for having a workout-less recovery day because I’m not even that tired. And as for my feelings post-race? You’ll get those next time!