Race Recap: Lake Samish Half Marathon

This weekend has been a long one. Garth worked past midnight on Friday. Coach Ryan helped me fit my new bike Saturday morning at 7:30 in exchange for a Starbucks chai. Knowing Garth will be on a work trip soon we’re trying to plan time together that doesn’t include couch + tv, so we had a coffee and breakfast date near where we got married post-fitting. One the way home we hit the hardware store for a couple of screws, and came home with supplies to reorganize our entire storage unit. So we had to reorganize said unit immediately. Then Garth had to go back to work so I paired my new cadence monitor with my watch, cleaned the kitchen, and cooked dinner.

By the time I got to sit down yesterday afternoon I couldn’t stop thinking about how times have changed. 2 years ago a half marathon was reason for weeks of conversation and nerves, and days of rest. So maybe that’s why today felt a little unreal. Also, part of that could be a pretty last-minute decision (Saturday morning) to go through with the race due to what was a pretty tweaked hamstring as of Tuesday. Last but not least, my most recent heartfelt races have been triathlons (meaning lots of equipment to coordinate, lots of time to pack, and even more double checking to make sure you have everything you need) so perhaps it was just that a half marathon feels uneventful in comparison.

Whatever it was that made today different, today went like this:

7AM: Hit the road. 7:05: Shit. That Starbucks isn’t open yet. Must find another. 7:10: Coffee in hand, on freeway. 8:35: Arrive in Bellingham. Let’s drive the course! 8:55: Finished driving course. But shit again. Because now we’re too late to trust that we’ll be back to the start in time if we park off-site and take the shuttle. 9AM: Welp, guess I’ll get ready in the car and Garth can park and shuttle himself after I get dropped off. 10:10: Race starts 10 minutes late.

I did chat with a couple good people at the start. First, a local man who has raced IMC the last 4 years; in the most recent 2 he’s missed a Kona slot by 1. He had some awesome words of wisdom for next summer, including some killer rides to work in to the mix to prepare for Richter Pass. We bonded over races and injuries, and over running being our favorite leg. The second, a girl around my age whose goal was a 1:35. “Me too!” I told her. Come to find out that was her goal because it qualifies someone in our age bracket for the ING NYC Marathon. So between Ironman Canada and ING NYC Marathon talk I don’t think I need to explicitly explain my thoughts and motivation during my time on the road.

Half Marathon 13.1mi // Time: 1:35:58 // 7:18 min/mi

Mile 1: Feeling good, running way too fast, but hammy was holding the fort down well so though I’d push myself a little by riding the line of discomfort possibly longer than actual smart.

Mile 2: Repeat.

Mile 3: “Mostly flat with rolling hills? WTF. More like lots and lots of rolling hills!”

Mile 4: I better slow down or my hamstring could revolt. Or instead my lungs might.

Mile 5: Side stitch I hate you. Luckily a minute or so of walking and focusing on my breath cleared it up.

Mile 6: MUST.PASS.THOSE.WHO.PASSED.ME.WHILE.I.WALKED.

Mile 7: “Those lucky jerks who just ran the 6.5mi run are done right now! And here I am dying!” But then I saw Garth filming me with his fancy new camera so I tried not to look like I was dying to look like I was feeling good and having fun, and passed the one person in sight for dramatic effect. Then I felt better.

Mile 8: Dying. Luckily hamstring is feeling friendly today, but lungs and glutes are on fire. Resolve to not look at watch again until the end. That energy can be much better spent on keeping myself riding the line of dying, rather than lamenting that I’m probably not running as fast a pace as I hoped.

Mile 9: Repeat.

Mile 10: More “rolling hills.” Which means more dying.

Mile 11: Pass the one dude in sight, who is wearing a fire fighter t-shirt. Feel good that I’m still keeping some level of non-embarrassing pace. Cheer him on. Tell myself I can do anything for 2 miles. Proceed to not believe myself.

Mile 12: See everyone who has finished the 6.5mi run walking back to their cars. More lucky jerks. At least I know it’s pretty flat from here. Note: This was the longest mile in the history of miles.

Mile 13: A pack of 3 dudes that I hadn’t seen or heard ever before in the whole race sprint by me. It’s cool, you guys aren’t in my age group.

Mile 13.05: Can see the clock reads 1:35 something. Better pick it up!

Mile 13.1: All I can think about is throwing up. And that I need my phone immediately to see if the girl at the starting line was right and I just qualified for NYC*.

All in all I feel really good about the race. I really gave it all that I had today; if I had pushed one bit harder the likelihood that I would have ended up running slower is high. I didn’t feel in as good of physical shape as I did for the Seattle Half, but I guess that’s what weeks less preparation and a holiday full of wine + lacking sleep will do to a runner. Regardless, I worked through last-minute injury, played my cards right, and got some good racing practice in today. I’ve been thinking about what I’d do differently next time, and if the circumstances were the same the only change I’d make is to train harder to begin with (making this race decision 3 or 4 weeks out didn’t make that possible this go around). I didn’t cause more harm to my hamstring, I made some good decisions on the course, I pushed myself to the point I felt pukey more than once and for hours afterward, and I had nothing but a few steps left in me when I crossed the finish line with 2 seconds to spare within the 1:35 mark.

*Qualify, I did!

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