A couple weeks ago, I ran 12 miles with Jamie Cheever. It was the longest run of my life... so when I got home, I threw on dry clothes and went to the pub for a couple of "celebratory" beers. I didn't stretch very well, and this was a mistake. My legs were sore for the next week and a half, and my training dwindled.
Gramma's Half Marathon was this Saturday, June 19th. I'd been nervous leading up to it, for a couple of reasons. 1. I was not sure where I was staying. 2. I was not very happy with my running the last couple of weeks.
I woke up on Friday morning to pick up Koby, and I was nervous as hell. My stomach was doing all kinds of funky things, and I thought to myself... "even though the race isn't till tomorrow, I'm having my pre-race jitters". That was fine though, as I hoped then that race day would leave me cool and collected.
Koby and I arrived in Duluth on Friday afternoon. We picked up my race packet, and had a pasta dinner. After dinner, we watched the 5K, that Erin Ward and Carrie Tollefson dominated. Next, I met up with Leigh and Keith for a beer at Old Chicago. I went back to the tent where Koby and I camped (about a mile from downtown Duluth). I popped a melatonin pill around 9:30, and was asleep by 10.
Race day: Alarm sounds at 4am. Fuck, that's early. I went to the car, and got changed. I ate a PB sandwich, and took my vitamins. Koby dropped me off at about 5:00am to catch the shuttle to the start of the race. The shuttle ride was about 15-20 minutes, and it was nice to talk with people about the race and share the excitement.
It was about 55 degrees at the start of the race, and I was hesitant to undress (into my racing outfit of a sports bra and little shorts), because I didn't want to get cold. I had to be ready for the start though, so I stripped down and threw my sweats in a bag with a couple thousand other people's bags.
I was supposed to meet my friend Chris at the 1:50 pace setter, as my goal was to run 1:50 or faster. I saw 2 hour balloon, but along side it said 8 minute pace. Up where the 1:50 guy was, it said 7:45 pace. WTF, I thought? Had a been wrong in my math all along? I had e-mailed a bunch of people a few days prior, and said my goal was 1:50. If 1:50 was a 7:45 pace, I would be screwed. I lined up with the 8 minute pace people, and away we went.
A few minutes into the race (actually, probably 4-5 minutes into it, as it took me 2 minutes to even cross the starting line), I saw chris. What a relief. I told him I thought my math was wrong, but he reassured me, things were just lined up kind of funny at the race.
We ran together for the first couple of miles, and then parted ways. "Run your own race", Chris said to me. He was right. I needed to "own" my race.... I was the one in charge.
I ran with an older guy about 5-6 miles into the race. I had met him on the shuttle to the starting line. I told him this was my first half marathon. He said I was doing great. "7:54 we just ran that last mile in". Yikes... that's a touch too fast, this early in the race, I thought. I felt pretty good, but didn't want to push it.
One of my goals for the race was to run the 2nd half faster than the first. By this time, I had lost the 1:50 pacer... he was ahead of me. "Stay calm", I told myself.
Along the route, there were people cheering, as well as people handing out water/powerade, sponges, and fruit. I had read once, to take a sponge that they hand out, and keep it in your shorts. When you go through the water lines, you can dip your sponge in there and just suck the water out of it. It helps you hydrate without slowing down too much. This was one of my race tactics.
I grabbed a couple of orange slices along the route as well. I don't know if these helped or not, but I pretended like they did. I had heard from a friend that they hand out beer along the course too... but I was suspicious of this. Low and behold, somewhere along mile 10 (?) was a row of young men handing out "cold beer". I slowed down a bit, and thought to myself, "if I take this, will I sabotage my race"? I thought not, so I grabbed a cup and took a few sips. I'd read in Bob Glover's book "The Competitive Runner's Handbook" that a couple of beers every night isn't a bad thing, because it metabolizes faster than food. Anyhow, the beer didn't hurt me.
I wanted to stop running after about 10 miles. Even when I ran a 10 mile "race" a couple weeks ago, I stopped and stretched during the middle of it. This time though, I kept on.
I ran my last 1.2 miles around a 7:45 pace. I often have a pretty big kick at the end, which is something I don't want.... I want to be spent by the time I get to the end, so learning that my last mile was a quick one makes me happy.
Anyhow, I crossed the finish line at 1:50 something or other, but my actual (chip) time was 1:48:15. I achieved my goal.
Koby biked around and took pictures, and I will post them here. (note: I did some minor color editing to these pictures, but she was the photographer). I took a few pictures the night before, of the 5K, as well as a couple of pictures on sunday of Koby in Lake Superior. I will post a few of these as well.
Anyhow, this was longer than I anticipated...(I have schoolwork to do, that I am putting off, obviously). Short story long... I finished my first half marathon, and achieved my goals (to run 1:50 or faster, run the 2nd half faster than the first, and place in the top 10% of all women finishers).
I'm not sure what my next race will be. I want to drop my time to 1:45 or faster, which will take some consistent training. I might run a 10k in July, and then go for another half marathon in August. We'll see. I've been looking online for races, but none have really "jumped out" at me.
So that's the story of my first half marathon. Thanks to Koby for taking pictures and finding us a place to camp, and congrats to all my friends who ran this weekend. Oh, and thanks to those who sent me some positive energy over the weekend.