I have a little time for pleasure writing, so I think I will recap last weekend. A few words come to mind. Sunny, celebratory, sweaty, fast, epic. Well, there you go!
Oh, you wanted to more know?
I suppose I can give a few more details.
On Saturday, I ran a local 5K for the third year in a row. It’s called Fun with the Fuzz, and it is a race through town with the police in order to benefit a charity for the families of fallen officers. It is quite the party. Many people come out for this race; it’s relatively flat and there are a ton of supporters along the route since it goes through densely populated residential areas. I was not in a great mental state to run a 5K, given that I was ending my taper week and I had a half marathon the next day. I had a hard time getting jazzed for the race in the morning, because I was focusing on what was to come. However, as I lined up at the start of the race, I got pretty excited. Several running buddies were racing throughout the crowd, and the weather was shaping up to a brilliantly sunny morning.
At the first mile marker, I looked down at my watch and realized I was running a faster mile (sub-9) than I usually do. Rather than slowing down, I decided to keep pushing. I was this fast, this far… why not make a game of it and see what kind of damage I could do? The race route flew by, and I finished with a new mile time record and fastest 5K record, according to the old Garmin. Wow, I was not expecting that! What a fun way to kick off a marathon weekend.
I showered and packed, and then I met up with my two friends for the drive down to Whidbey Island for marathon weekend. They were registered to run Whidbey’s new 5K event, and I was getting excited to run the half marathon for which I trained all winter.
We had a really lovely day before the race on Whidbey. After a barebones expo, we had delicious Thai food (I am getting more daring with my pre-race meals), a beer (or two), and enjoyed the hot tub beneath a setting sun. As is typical before a big race, we all slept terribly. However, a hot cup of coffee was enough to catalyze my adrenaline in the morning, and we were soon off to the start of the races.
I headed to the start line feeling filled to the brim with gratitude. First, and most of all, I am so grateful for all of the people in my life who were supporting me in person and in spirit. I had my friends cheering me on to the side of the corral, friends in the pack getting ready to run the half, and family members at home thinking about me that morning. I was going out there to run for many more people than myself. Second, I am so grateful for my running practice, particularly my distance running practice. I have learned so much about my own capabilities and strength through working at this practice day after day, week after week, year after year. It is immensely emotional for me to know that my body is a trustworthy vehicle that can power me through a long run. Finally, I was so amazed by the natural beauty of my surroundings. The sun was out, the mountains were visible, the water glistening… there are races all over the world, but on Sunday, I got to run in one of the most spectacularly gorgeous places.
I decided I would run the race next to the 2:15 pacer, since my goal was to finish under my 2:22 time from September’s half marathon. After about two miles with the pacer, however, I decided to break off and run ahead. I was feeling pretty good and fast, and knowing that the last few miles of the course presented some brutal hills, I wanted to give myself a cushion. I am so glad I did this!! I did not have a negative split, but I did not have to rush when I felt the most tired later on.
Like I experienced it in 2013, the first eight or nine miles were scenic, fast, and highly enjoyable. Also like I experienced it in 2013, the last four miles were the true race. At mile 9, my 5K friends were cheering me on. I have to say that seeing them as I ran into what I knew would be the hardest part of the course meant the world to me. Miles 10 and 11 are a hazy blur of working really hard to talk myself out of hitting the wall. My legs were getting heavy, my hands and feet were tingling, and I was tired. The uphill was really hard for me. I lost some time getting sucked out of my zone and into some self-doubt. Luckily, all of my mantras from marathon training kicked in and really helped me avoid what could have been several miles of walking and frowning to the finish.
Finally, at mile 12, I hit the last downhill, coasting to the finish. It truly took ALL GUTS to run the last portion of that mile. I was pushing and pushing. I crossed the finish line shaving 9 whole minutes of my finish time from September! My Garmin beeped at me again that I had two new records: fastest 10K and fastest half marathon. I drank some chocolate milk, hugged my friends, and reveled in the accomplishment of another goal.
Upon comparing chip results, however, my time in 2013 was still 2 minutes faster, and therefore remains my half marathon PR. I didn’t have my Garmin yet at that point, so that is why I got the record that I did, according to my watch (“Cruddy fart knockers!” as my husband would say). However, I feel really proud of this race for a lot of reasons.
-I ran smarter this year than in 2013. In 2013, I was limping around the next day with agonizing IT Band pain. This year, I am barely sore at all.
-My mile time was much more consistent through the race. I did not have to walk more than one minute here or there.
-Even though I felt some pre-wall symptoms, I fueled better for this race than two years ago. I’ve matured in understanding what I need to use during a long run to sustain enough energy but not become nauseated.
Next on the agenda? Why another half, of course. I am running one in late June. And this time, I am hoping for a 2:10 time and a new record.