Am I the worst blogger ever? Maybe. But I was out livin’ life this past week and the old bloggy fell to the very bottom of the priority list. I was sick all day on Tuesday (calling in sick to your new job on week 3 is not a move I would generally recommend but I had food poisoning… it was brutal), had an after-work event on Wednesday and went out for dinner for Brandon’s birthday on Thursday. We basically celebrated his birthday all weekend. I made him banana cream pie cupcakes (MAKE THESE – they are such a pain in the ass but the delicious filling is worth the work. I used whole wheat pastry flour which actually made for great “pie crust” cupcakes)
And we visited DC this weekend! I will do a big, long post (hopefully tomorrow) recapping our trip (LOTS OF PICTURES!) but for now I owe a blog post recapping my first ever half marathon race at the Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon last Sunday, May 6!
I actually wrote most of this post on Monday while the race was fresh in my mind, and finally got the pictures together to post. There aren’t many because it took just about all of my energy and focus to get through the race, but there are a few. Enjoy!
The night before the race, Brandon and I were hanging with my family for some Cinco de Mayo eats and to watch the Derby, then swung by a party until around 10:30. I was nervous and checking the weather all night, POSITIVE it was going to dump rain on me the entire race. I was having a lot of fun at the party we were at, but Brandon talked reason into me about how early I had to to be up and how far I had to run in the morning. I came home and freaked out getting everything prepared and double-checked – my outfit: tech tee, running shorts and socks I’ve worn a million times, and a sweatshirt for warmth pre-race. I also wore a hat, which I have never done before for a run but I was nervous about the rain. I actually had to dig out an old sorority hat because I own so few caps! I also packed chews and gel, a water cup for the car, plastic bag w/ paper towel for the iPhone, extra ponytail, chapstick. I brought a garbage bag just in case it was pouring before the race but luckily I didn’t have to use it.
Race morning, I woke up at 5:45, ate a PB and banana toast sandwich with a cup of coffee, got dressed and headed to the bus pickup. The race organizers had a whole middle school parking lot set aside for race participants, and then a shuttle bus dropped us right at the start line. The weather was a little chilly but the skies looked clear. Even though the weather forecast was a 70% chance of rain for the morning, I hoped the clear morning meant the rain would stay away for the race. I stopped by the bathroom before I got on the bus and then headed to the race, where I dropped off my gear bag with my sweatshirt and followed the crowd to the starting line. The race started in waves, and the 2 hour pace group started in the group before the 2:05 and 2:10 pace groups. I didn’t have a defined time goal – the goal I had set for myself for the race was to finish without walking – but I was mentally gunning for at least a 2:10 finish. I got some unexpected confidence right before the start and decided to start off running with the 2:00 pace group and see how the first few miles went. I got my iPod set (I was using my old Shuffle instead of my phone in case of rain) and tried not to feel nervous as the wave started to run forward and across the chip timing mat.
I wasn’t completely sore and dying after my 10 mile race, so I decided right before the race started that I wanted to try to go a little faster than I usually do. I scooted up to the 2:00 pace group and ran with 2:00 pace group for the first five miles or so. I was listening to Girl Talk and feeling really good! There was a girl in Vibram Five Fingers that I tried to keep up with for awhile because it seemed like she had a nice steady pace. I have always though I liked being alone while I run, but it was actually nice to run with a group and have someone else set the pace. I think I took in my first fuel around mile 5. I had a Mocha Clif gel in my shorts because I had such a great run with one the week before the race, but I honestly was feeling so into my groove that I didn’t want to mess around with my pocket. I had a pack of Honey Stinger passionfruit chews in my hand that was already open before the race (I had eaten 2 out of the pack on a previous run and rubber-banded the bag shut), so I ate 2 chews from that bag and kept running. The first five miles really flew by and I kept telling myself that section of the race was the “warmup” before I knew it would start to get harder.
I slowed down because I was starting to feel tired, and I mentally (smartly) told myself that if I felt tired now, I was going to be feeling pretty bad in 5 more miles if I kept clipping along at a full minute per mile faster than I had trained. I told myself that when I made it to Mile 8, I could skip my music ahead from Girl Talk to some rap and techno songs at the end of the playlist for motivation (I love listening to rap when I run.. random fact for ya). Still felt pretty good, and the miles went by fast. Mile 8, I flipped to Kanye’s “Monster” (Nicki Minaj gets me jacked up to run, go ahead and judge) and ate another couple chews.
(KKG for life)
I started feeling really tired and I REALLY had to pee (TMI?). I focused in on my bad/dance-tastic songs and got ready to dial it in for the rest of the race. Whenever I felt really bad, I repeated to myself “You can do this! You are strong! Do it big!”… and other cheesy, self-motivation chatter. I even managed to power it up a couple of the hills, and tried to use the downhill parts of the race to cruise through some distance with less effort. I was also feeling grateful that one of my favorite outdoor routes during training has some decent hills – the practice DEFINITELY helped. The course wasn’t overly hilly but there was a bit of up and down:
The last 3.1 miles were really, really tough. I was happy because my lungs seemed to be keeping up and I had struggled with some allergy symptoms during my last few long training runs, but my legs were totally dead. In the past, I would get a lot of knee pain running even 3 miles, but I scaled up my mileage super slowly in training for this half marathon the past 5 months and hadn’t had any knee troubles at all. Those last three miles of the race, my knee pain came back with a vengeance. My right hip that had been slightly tight during the last three weeks of training was screaming, and the arch of my right foot hurt with every step. I was telling myself “just one foot in front of the other!” and tried my hardest not to walk. I was playing mind games with myself, trying not to look at my watch until the 2 hour mark. I was reminding myself of how many times I’ve run three miles over the past five months and that I could handle it, no problem. I ate another couple chews and tried not to think about how my legs were feeling.
After the longest three miles of my life, I finally got to the finish line and could see the clock ticking up from 2:09…. My main goal for this race was to finish without walking, but I did have a sub- 2:10 time in mind since I’d been running around or just under 10 minute miles for most of my training. I picked up the pace for the final stretch and came in right under 2:10:00 on the race clock.
The final race results have been posted since then, and I finished with a chip time of 2:04:17. Not too shabby at all! AND not a drop of rain the entire race… it was a race day miracle.
After pushing myself across the finish line, I walked in a daze to pick up my medal, grab a water, and head towards the food tent. My legs were hurting so badly I felt like there was no way I was going to be able to stand up long enough to make it through the LONG food line, but I also knew I needed to refuel ASAP if I wanted my legs to start feeling better. I could not WAIT to get the shoes off of my feet and my legs felt stiff and sore. I chugged another two glasses of water in line and grabbed half a banana, the only thing that seemed even remotely appetizing. They also had muffins, cereal/trail mix dispensers, bags of chips and cookies. There were also cups of Gatorade… and probably some other goodies but I was way too out of it to notice. I limped over to a huge Remax balloon, thinking it would be a good landmark for Brandon to find me, and started to realize how much my legs really HURT as I tried to work my phone with my shaky hands. Then (OKAY HERE IS WHERE IT GETS DRAMATIC) I started to cry a little bit. I was so tired and it hurt SO badly to walk, and I had a little bit of a pity party. Then Brandon showed up was very concerned that I had really hurt myself, and I remembered that, ya know, I signed myself up for this and no one forced me to drag my lazy butt 13.1 miles. It was a pretty painful walk the three or so blocks back to his car but I was so ready to go home! I wasn’t feeling great, but I was feeling good enough to pick my car up at the school and drive home.
I finally got a picture once we were back at the apartment – I was so relieved and happy to be done with the race, I figured I needed one picture with my medal!
We got home, teamed up on breakfast and whipped up some egg sandwiches (I think Brandon was as hungry as I was!), then I stretched a little bit and rubbed my extremely sore arch on a cold golf ball, and immediately fell asleep on the couch for a 2 hour nap. When I woke up, I was still hurting pretty bad but felt a lot better. We decided to walk to dinner (I decided that walking would make me feel better? I have no idea if this is a good recovery move or not) and headed to Hell’s Kitchen to stuff our faces and celebrate.
The celebration was delicious –
We had calamari and crab cake appetizers (happy hour! whoo!) and I gorged on a grilled vegetable sandwich with goat cheese and jalapenos and a giant pile of sweet potato fries. I highly recommend Hell’s Kitchen for a unique and delicious dinner, and on Sundays the happy hour lasts all night! After dinner I was feeling pretty dead and we got to bed at a reasonable time, all set to get the week going.
Whew! I’m glad I got that all written down so I can remember it foreverrrr. Overall, I am really proud of myself to sticking to my training plan (as much as I did) and finishing the race pretty strong. I learned a lesson about starting off a race too quick. Even though I’ve read about aiming for negative splits before, aka starting off slower and finishing strong… I learned the hard way that it’s a prettyyy good idea if you don’t want to totally die at the end of your race. The one thing that’s been the most awesome about the training process is I have a renewed appreciation for what my body can accomplish if I work out hard and treat my body right (food, stretching, etc.). I can’t believe how far I can run and if you would have told me a year ago that 2012 would be the year I finally ran a half marathon, I don’t think I would have believed you.
The race was really hard, so I haven’t decided yet what my goal is around running another race. I am 90% sure I want to do another one and am thinking about Lola’s Lake Waconia Half on June 9. Both Goldy’s Run and the Lake Minnetonka Half are part of a running series put on by the same race promoters and the Lake Waconia race is the next one on the series.
Both races so far had beautiful courses with lots of water, regular water stations, organized starts and finishes, and SAWEET medals so I might just keep rolling with the good experiences I’ve had so far. When I first finished the race, my #1 thought was “I’m never doing this again” because my legs hurt SO badly. I thought it was going to take me forever to recover, but by the time I went back to work on Wednesday I was almost pain-free. My day on the couch on Tuesday may have either helped or hindered, but I’m pretty confident I would run an even better race on a second try at a half and now I’m not intimidated by the recovery process. I’ll keep ya posted what I decide.
I had actually considered for about .5 seconds BEFORE the half about signing up for a full marathon in October that one of my coworkers is planning on running… and then I finished my race. I think 26.2 is going to have to be a major goal for another year. I have a renewed respect for anyone that does intense endurance events like marathons.
So what’s the plan fitness-wise for the immediate future? Brandon wants to do some P90X workouts so I’m hoping to do a hybrid half marathon running plan/P90X plan the next four weeks. I’ll be back with more on that and our Washington D.C. trip stories soon!
Please leave comments and tell me all about your weekend and what you thought about my race recap – too long, too boring, did I leave out anything you wanted to hear about? Have a good Monday!