Friday, October 16, 2015

Prairie Fire Half Marathon

Going into the half-marathon on Sunday I was feeling pretty confident. I had numerous really strong long runs under my belt. I knew I was capable of hitting my goal of 8 minute pace for 12 miles so 13 miles at that pace should be a breeze! But Thursday and Friday my legs felt tired and sluggish on my runs so I was a little bit nervous. The zoo run had been that previous Saturday and I probably should have taken it a little bit easier than I had early in the week to recover. On Tuesday I planned to run 3-4 miles. We went to storytime by a park that has a 3 mile loop which is mostly gravel and has some significant uphills so it's a bit challenging with the double stroller. Both the kids fell asleep so I decided to keep running and ended up doing 6 miles. I almost kept going to 7 but stopped and was thankful I did as my left calf started cramping up shortly after I started walking. With poor runs on Thursday and Friday doubt started setting in. Originally I felt a reasonable goal was 7:40 pace but after the week I'd had I wasn't so sure. My confidence began to waver but I reminded myself that as long as I wasn't sick or injured I could still have a good race. The training was there.
At the race expo on Saturday afternoon.

Saturday evening Elise went down in her Pack N Play, easy peasy. Carter wasn't too keen on sleeping in the hotel bed by himself so he talked his Opa into laying with him. The rest of us headed out for ice cream and to pick up some items at Wal-Mart. When we returned Elise was awake and screaming in bed with Opa and Carter, who was awake and talking. I quickly grabbed Elise and then Ty and I got ready for bed. Eventually we just moved around to where Ty was in bed with Carter and I was in bed with Elise with pillows under the fitted sheet on both sides to keep her from rolling off the bed. Sister tossed and turned and didn't fall into a deep sleep until almost 11:00. I'm not going to lie, laying there in bed for 2 hours trying to soothe her to sleep while listening to Ty snore made me super jealous. But I also knew we didn't need to get up until 6:45 since we just had a short walk to the race start. Thankfully once Elise was down she slept until 4 am and then nursed and went right back to sleep. Carter woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed at 6 am. I talked Ty into taking him to breakfast so I could go back to sleep but no such luck. I just laid there unable to sleep. Even with all the interruptions I still got 7.5 hours of sleep which was good! I eventually just got up to get ready rather than attempt to sleep. Elise woke up while I was dressing and then didn't eat very well so I decided to pump so I could leave a bottle with my mom. Between Elise not really eating and worrying about mom having enough to feed her, I forgot to put lotion on my feet. I always make sure to do that before every long run because my narrow feet tend to slide around and I get blisters. Even in narrow shoes!
Carter making a sign for us at the race expo.

When I said we had a short walk I wasn't kidding. We left our hotel room at 7:18. I stopped off in the breakfast area to grab a bagel to eat as we walked and we made it to the race start with minutes to spare before the 7:30 start time. I was able to eat about an eighth of the half a bagel I picked up, breaking off small chunks as we walked. We arrived in the starting area and walked through an open section in the corral gate and walked further up. Ty stopped and I didn't know because I was leading the group toward the front. I was looking at the pacers' signs to see where I needed to line up. I decided to stop when I got up by the 1:45 pacer. When I turned around dad, Jeremy, and Thomas were with me but Ty wasn't. I hadn't thought about him lining up farther back and was really disappointed I didn't get to give him a kiss and tell him good luck before the race. Jeremy walked up a bit farther and then we waited. I felt like I had positioned myself well at the start, but I still ended up weaving through quite a few slower runners. I got stuck behind a very large pace group which I had to jump up on the sidewalk to get around. In the first mile we turned toward the hotel we stayed at and I knew mom would be there with the kids so I made sure I was on the far left of the road. She was on the sidewalk on the right so when I saw her I veered over to that side and was so excited to see her, Carter, and Elise. I was prepared for that to be the only place I would see them. My plan for the race had been to go out around 8:00 pace for the first 3 miles and see how much I could pick it up from there. I went through the first mile in 7:44 and got excited. I secretly really wished I was in shape to run under 1:40 because all of my half-marathons other than when I've been pregnant have been under 1:40 except for two really terrible ones I ran when I was sick. I knew sub-1:40 would take around a 7:36 pace average. I got a little bit too excited thinking that was a possibility and the yearning to hit that pace really changed the tone of the race for me. My next 2 miles were 7:51 and 7:50. Instead of being excited I was under my goal pace of 8 minutes, I started calculating how much over 7:36 pace I was and how much time I would have to make up during the 2nd half of the race.
I love this picture. That's me right there, Thomas in the orange behind me and dad in blue beside him.

2/3 of our amazing cheer squad!

I went through mile 4 in 7:51 and felt discouraged. I knew I had over 45 seconds to attempt to make up and was realizing I would need to run around 7:30 pace for the remainder of the race. Instead of listening to my body and realizing that 7:50 was where I needed to be as it felt comfortable at the time and I don't like to push too much during the first half of the race as I pay for it later, I tried to pick up the pace. Before the race Ty and I had discussed how he would run with his phone. He likes to listen to music during races but his arm band didn't fit his new phone. I had a belt I wear to carry my Gu as I don't have pockets in my spandex shorts. I decided to give him my belt and I would carry my Gu in my sports bra. I could feel it rubbing during the first few miles, but it wasn't until I hit mile 5 that it became really uncomfortable so I pulled it out and carried it for the next mile before I ate it. In those first few miles I also realized I had forgotten to put lotion on my feet as I felt my foot rubbing and forming a blister. I went through mile 5 in 7:33 and mile 6 in 7:47. I was holding onto hope that with the Gu at mile 6 I would get a second wind and would be able to pick it up enough to break 1:40. Mile 7 was 7:41 and then I feel a surge in mile 8, especially because we had a nice, rolling downhill for much of the mile. I hit mile 8 in 7:25 and then mile 9 in 7:38. With how much effort I was putting in and was still over pace for a sub-1:40 I finally gave in to the fact that it just wasn't going to happen. Instead I tried to settle into a comfortably difficult pace as I headed into the final miles of the race.

Normally my last 4 miles of the race are my fastest with the last mile being my very fastest. That was not the case on Sunday. I had put too much effort into the middle miles attempting to hit a pace that was unrealistic for me right now. I was proud of myself though. When I realized I wasn't going to break 1:40 I thought about just giving in those last few miles. I told myself, who cares what time you run? It's for sure going to be over 1:40 and you can slow down a lot and still be under 1:45. Does it really matter how much over 1:40/how much under 1:45? But I told myself no. I had worked too hard, I had pushed too much. I was not giving in now. So instead I kept pushing the pace, kept giving it all I had. Miles 10-12 were 7:39, 7:44, and 7:30. I had a huge pick-me-up when I saw mom, Carter, and Elise around the 11 mile mark. Those last few miles I could see a woman in a turquoise tank top running quite a ways ahead of me. I could tell she was slowing down while I was speeding up so I was closing in on her slowly but surely. I started focusing on catching her. The last 2 miles were into the wind and she was drafting off of a guy in front of her. I was running alone so I didn't have that luxury. With just over a mile to go I caught up to her and as I passed her I could hear her behind me. She had swung out and was now drafting off me instead of the guy and was going with me. I made it my goal to stay ahead of her and kept thinking she was waiting to out kick me at the end. I hit mile 13 in 7:42 and could see the bridge you cross and then head to the finish line just over it. I ran as hard as I could and was so happy to cross the finish line. My official finishing time was 1:41:08, an average of 7:40 pace according to my Garmin. I was disappointed my last mile wasn't my fastest but I knew it wasn't due to lack of effort. I put everything I had into that last mile, but my legs had just given out. I ran too fast in the beginning and paid for it. Thankfully now I know what I'm capable of and can do a better job of pacing myself next month during our second half marathon. In the chute I received my medal, finisher's shirt, a water bottle, and a Gatorade. The woman in the turquoise shirt congratulated me as she walked by. I had ended up beating her by almost 30 seconds. Then I was off to watch everyone else finish.
You can see the woman in turquoise drafting off of me here.

I walked out across the bridge and just kept walking until I saw dad. He looked so strong and I excitedly waved my shirt and cheered for him. Then I walked some more waiting for Thomas to finish and cheered for him. I walked out some more waiting on Ty to finish and then started walking back toward the finish line. I could hear the announcer giving updates on where the top marathon finishers were and how much time had elapsed since the start of the race. They started the marathon and the half marathon together so I knew the time for the half marathon was the same. I saw Ty come into view and cheered like crazy for him. He looked the strongest I had ever seen him look at the end of a half marathon. I heard the announcer say the marathoners were at 2 hours and 9 minutes. I knew Ty was for sure within the last half mile of the race so it would take him less than 5 minutes to finish. I got super excited because I knew his PR was a 2:16:35. I was so excited I took off running after him because I wanted to see him cross the finish line and know his time. He cross around 2:12 gun time so I knew he had for sure run a PR with an even bigger PR based on chip time. I found mom, dad, Thomas, Carter, and Elise as I was walking toward the finish chute to congratulate Ty so I grabbed Carter so he could tell Ty good job. I had the biggest smile on my face as we told him what a great job he did and how strong he looked finishing.

Ty at mile 5.
Crossing the finish line in record time!
We eventually found Jeremy after watching the top marathoners finish and then found the results so we could see what our unofficial times were. Jeremy had finished in 1:33:01 putting him 35th out of 1,805 total finishers and 5th out of 96 in his age group. I finished in 1:41:08 good for 5th out of 152 in my age group and 91st overall. Dad was next in 1:52:07 which put him 11th out of 53 in his age group and 238th overall. Thomas finished in 2:00:23 which was 26th in his age group and 465th overall. Ty ran a huge PR of 2:10:24! He was 38th of 59 in his age group and 700th overall! That put him in the top 40th percent of the race. We didn't stick around for awards even though they were getting ready to start them as we were heading back to the hotel because none of us had been in the top 3 of our age group. It wasn't until days later when we were looking at the official results that we realized I had placed 3rd in my age group because 2 of the top 3 overall female finishers were in my age group so they just received overall awards without age group awards.

Nursing Elise while enjoying some post-race milk myself, mine was chocolate though!
Walking back to our hotel.
After the race I was talking to Ty about how much my ankle hurt. The only thing I could think was that I had run too much on the slant of the road although I had tried to stay up in the middle of the road to combat that. It wasn't until we got home that I realized I had run on the outside of my foot because I had a blister on the inside of my foot and it put a lot of stress on my ankle. I drained the blister and went back to walking normally but it took a little while for my ankle to feel better. I had run I'm guessing around 7 miles on the outside of my foot due to the blister. Darn your body automatically making form changes to compensate for pain! I also ended up with some really bad chaffing from the Gu packet on the side of my breast which made it painful to wear a bra for days and, naturally, Elise accidentally latched on there twice which really hurt and girl never misses! I wouldn't change a thing though, I would still give up my belt knowing it would result in a PR for Ty even though it meant chaffing for me.

Back at the hotel Carter was desperate to swim so I took him to the pool while everyone else showered. It was quite a bit of fun and felt really good on my legs to stretch out and kick in the water. Overall it was an awesome weekend. We had so much fun with my family and enjoyed goofing around during our Wal-Mart trip on Saturday night. I enjoyed the race and loved getting to watch everyone except Jeremy finish. It was so exciting to watch Ty run a PR even though I was 10 minutes off my fastest time! I enjoyed hearing about mom's morning with the kids and then swimming with Carter before we all headed to lunch. It was the kind of perfect weekend that leaves you smiling for days afterward. Now I'm looking forward to our crazy busy race schedule with numerous 5ks leading up to my goal half-marathon the weekend before Thanksgiving. We've run this race 3 years now. Read about last year's race here and 2013's race here.
Ready to swim.

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