Thursday, April 6, 2017

Aquarium Run Half Marathon

Going into this race I was more excited to run than I have been all season. I had finally let go of all hopes of running a PR and was ready to go out and just enjoy the race. My mom had signed Carter up for the One Mile Fun Run and he was so excited. When I showed him his race packet and we dumped it all out to look through it, he just kept smiling. He loved that his bib had a sea turtle on it and was thrilled about the shirt. He wanted to wear it for the race but was worried it would get too sweaty so I told him if it got too sweaty, I'd wash it for him so he could wear it some more. Before bed that night I told him what the temperature was supposed to be at race time and I told him what type of clothing he would most likely want to wear for the race. We set his clothes out so he would be ready and he made sure he had some PJ Mask underwear to wear, priorities here! The excitement continued that morning when he woke us up bright and early before our alarms, super excited that his Oma and Opa had arrived while he was sleeping. He was so excited to see the shark stocking cap Opa was wearing for the race and the fish stocking cap Oma would be wearing. We left the house around 7:25 for the 8:00 start, one of the huge perks of running a race close to home. Also a perk of running a race where I don't need to do a warm up. We arrived and went straight for the inflatables which Carter could not stop talking about. I intended to hit the porta potties up before the race but the lines were insane so I ran over to a different area and ended up with a little quarter-mile warm up before the race.
The half-marathon started at 8:00, the 10k which Jeremy was running started at 8:10, the 5k which dad and Thomas were running was at 8:20, and the fun run was at 8:30. Mom was doing the fun run with Carter and I really wished it was before my race so I could see them and/or run part of it with them. Ty ended up not running so he planned to watch everyone's race start and then drive with Elise to the half-way point of the half-marathon to cheer for me. As I headed over to the race start I spotted one of the guys on our race team and chatted with him a little bit before we lined up at the start. I looked around for a couple of women who I know normally run the race and typically go 1-2. I didn't see them at first but then finally noticed them both more to the left-hand side of the starting line. When I saw them over there I realized we would be taking a left turn pretty early in the race so it would probably be best to be over to the left as well. I knew Ty was over on the right side of the course to cheer for me but I went ahead and headed over to the left side of the start line. They announced the race would be starting a few minutes late and then we were off. I was feeling really good and got excited that I couldn't feel anything off with my left shin. Within the first mile of the race I had passed quite a few people and had moved into 3rd overall female. I was running a pace that felt really good and was surprised to go through the first mile in 6:51. I figured I was either going to run faster than I had expected or I would have a rough second half of the race. We turned into the wind for the next mile which I went through in 7:08. That was more the pace I had been expecting to run so I figured that first mile I just went out a little fast out of excitement. I did a great job of not really looking at my watch between miles which I can be bad about at times.
Ty took some fun pictures before the race started.
Start picture from the race's facebook page.
We went through mile 3 right before we headed out onto Riverside. The wind was really strong as we crossed over the bridge and as I went to pass a guy he made a comment about the wind. We started chatting a little bit and I decided to stick with him instead of heading on at the pace I had been running. It's a good thing I did because I'd gone through the 3rd mile in 6:51 pace which was too fast for so early in the race. As we ran along we talked about our favorite running weather, our race teams, and other random tidbits. He told me the guys on his team had made a bet that whoever out of them finished last had to wear a dress during the triathlon they were all training for so he just needed to stay ahead of his teammates which made me laugh. I didn't realize we had slowed while chatting until we went through mile 4 in 7:13. I decided I should probably stop talking quite so much, so we would go for stretches where we didn't really talk for a while but it was nice to have him there to run with. My biggest concern about running this race was that I would have to run by myself the whole way. We went through mile 5 in 7:04 and then moved from the road onto the trail. We followed the people we could see a ways ahead of us and were running on the side of the trail for bikes. As we approached Helmerich park a little bit before the 6 mile mark I got so excited when I saw Ty and Elise ready to cheer for us. I hadn't been expecting to see them until the half-way point so it was a very exciting surprise for me. I yelled and waved to them very happily. Elise didn't really react to seeing me which made me giggle. We went through mile 6 in 7:06 so we were running pretty consistently there. I could see the water stop ahead so I pulled out my Gu and started eating it. We realized we were running on the wrong path as the water stop was set up on the pedestrian side of the trail so we switched over which meant we had to run in the grass. It felt weird on my legs switching from pavement to grass and then back. When we hit a water stop at around 6.5 miles I grabbed a water and my running buddy didn't which caused him to pull away from me a little bit. Then we went up one of only maybe 3 little hills on the course and he pulled further away. I had planned to catch back up to him but he had also apparently decided to take off. He yelled something back to me as he went, but I didn't catch what it was.  For a while I had trouble tasting the Gu like it was going to come back up which I've never really experienced before but it stayed down.

Once I lost my running buddy I had a hard time maintaining the pace we had been running. What had felt so effortless before was suddenly much harder when I was alone. Mile 7 was 7:14 and I told myself to just keep hitting around 7:15 for the rest of the race. Around that time I started seeing the first runners come back toward me so I knew we were approaching the turn around which got me excited to see Ty and Elise again. Once everyone was coming back by I was able to confirm that I was, in fact, 3rd overall female. As I neared the turn around I saw Ty and Elise standing just a little past the cone so I ran over to high five Elise. She got confused so I stopped for a second. I had a hard time picking pace back up after stopping but it was worth it to see my sweeties. The workers at that water stop were the most energetic and enthusiastic. They commented on how much they liked my socks and said they were super cute. I smiled but I was hating my socks just a little bit at that point. I had run multiple long runs in my compression socks to make sure they wouldn't cause blisters since they are the cheap thin ones. I had no trouble with them until my 9 mile run last weekend when they gave me a big blister on my left foot which extended up between my big toe and second toe even. I was hopeful that if I used lotion on my feet that wouldn't happen again. I really wanted to wear them because I was worried about my shin and thought they may help. About 6 miles into the race I could feel a new blister forming and by the turn around it was a bit unpleasant. Nothing compared to my blister from Prairie Fire a few years ago, but enough to notice.

After the turn around I got to see all the runners still heading out. It was nice to see them and to cheer for each other. It was especially nice after a couple miles of running alone. I saw the 4th and 5th females running together and saw I had a pretty big lead. Toward the end of the race I started thinking I could walk and they still wouldn't catch me but I tried to push as much as I could anyway. The 8th mile mark was right after the turn around and I went through it in 7:20. I was a little disappointed I was so much over 7:15 pace but figured that was partially due to stopping for high fives at the turn around. My goal for the remainder of the race was to stay as close to 7:15 pace as I could. I knew 7:15 pace was what I averaged at the Route 66 Half after Elise was born and I wanted to make sure I at least beat that time. I kept telling myself, just 5 miles to go! Right around mile 9 I got a song stuck in my head from the Winnie the Pooh soundtrack the kids and I were listening to the day before. It wasn't any of the lyrics just the background music and I sang it over and over in my head. Later when I looked at the case, I realized the song was called "Rumbly in my Tumbly," which was kind of funny considering. I went through that mile in 7:17 and again mile 10 was 7:17. I told myself just a 5k to go and I felt like that gave me a little more pep in my step. Mile 11 was 7:18 and I was pretty excited that I just had 2 miles to go. Around 11.5 miles I made it to where the 10k turn around was and started passing a few 10k runners here and there. Not too many and none of them were in the way until I made it to a group of 4 women walking while blocking the entire way. I yelled out, "On your right," because I really didn't want to step down into the grass to pass them. I felt bad because I scared one of the women, but she then cheered for me so she recovered quickly. I was struggling a little bit and started checking my watch more telling myself, just 2 miles left, that means just over 15 minutes to go. I'd tell myself, you can do anything for 15 minutes which then made me go off on a tangent thinking about the show, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, because she says you can do anything for 10 seconds. Then it was just 1.5 miles left. I told myself I'd start picking up the pace with 1.5 miles left but I wasn't feeling great and didn't want to kick too early so I decided to wait. As I neared the 12 mile mark I started getting really excited because I knew we were approaching the bridge and this section of the race was what I've been envisioning over and over in my mind ever since signing up for the race. I went through mile 12 in 7:29 and really started picking it up. I knew the bridge was about 4/10 of a mile long. When I stepped onto the bridge I saw I was running 7:25 pace and I told myself I needed to push to sub-7:20 by the end of the bridge. Once I made it to the end of the bridge, it was a turn downhill to the right and then onward under the bridge we had just crossed and toward the aquarium. I knew I had less than a half-mile to go and I was really pushing. I looked down and saw I was running 6:50 pace which caused me to have a little bit of a melodramatic chuckle since that had been my goal pace coming into the season.

As I came out from passing under the bridge I saw my dad with Carter on his shoulders and a wave of happiness passed over me. I smiled and waved at them and yelled to Carter who was so proud to yell back that he had been cheering for all the other runners while he waited for me. I could hear my mom cheering for me and started scanning where I heard her voice, looking for her, but couldn't place her. Then I heard her again and looked over to see Jeremy, Thomas, and Ty who I smiled at. I kept hearing my mom but couldn't see her and after the race found out it was because she was making her way to the finish line to take pictures. I turned toward the finish and saw bubbles blowing across the finish line like last year. I could barely see the finishing clock due to the sun and freaked out for a minute because I saw it ticking over from 1:3X and thought it was ticking over to 1:35. My only goal going into the race was to break 1:35 so my heart dropped for a second until I got closer to the clock and realized it had just ticked over to 1:34. I hit mile 13 in 7:07 and then ran the last portion of the race at 6:23 pace. I stopped my watch as I crossed the finish line in 1:34:11 but the results show 1:34:13 so I'm not sure what happened there. My Garmin showed my average pace was 7:10 per mile. I hadn't synced my new Garmin up with Garmin Connect yet so it would tell me my 5k and 10k splits as they would be new PR's according to my watch. It was fun to finish the race and have it tell me I had run a 5k, 10k, half-marathon, and distance PR even though I knew none of that was correct. My 5k split was 21:37 and my 10k was 43:49. I got a kick out of the fact that my 5k split would have won overall female in the 5k so I would have gotten a $50 gift card to New Balance.
Finishing picture from the race's Facebook page.
Finishing picture Ty took on his phone.
Finishing picture mom took on her camera.

It was nice to run a race with no real time goals. I wanted to be under 1:35 but I figured I could do that without trying too hard. I wasn't disappointed in my time but I wasn't super excited either. When I thought it over I decided running 12 seconds per mile slower than the fall really wasn't too bad considering how close I was to injuring myself by over-training. I decided to look up my past half-marathon times and this would be my 4th fastest out of 14, 6 of which I ran while either pregnant or less than a year after giving birth, but still up there! It wasn't the 1st fastest that I had trained in hopes of hitting but 4th isn't too shabby and it was my first time running a 1:34:XX which is kind of cool. Most of all I'm proud of myself for pushing through and finishing out a tough season, for going ahead with this race and not giving up. There were times when I wanted to just drop the race since I wasn't going to run a PR but I didn't. I pushed through a difficult race and didn't let being so far off the time I had been working so hard to hopefully hit ruin my day. I smiled, I enjoyed the race, and I had fun. My friend Sara had told me, "Just smile the whole way," and I thought of that every time I thanked a police officer closing a street and when I passed other runners with a smile. It was definitely a race where I gave myself the flexibility to just smile and enjoy it. Around the half-way point Sara's comment came into my head and "just smile" became my race motto. When I got my results printed out it showed I had finished 269th overall, 188th female, and 30th in my age group. I knew that wasn't correct but I didn't worry about it. Then I ran into the guy on my race team whose wife works at the aquarium. He said that one of the volunteers who had been in charge of registration at packet pick-up hadn't been paying attention and had just given out bibs randomly without checking to see which race they were signed up for. So there were 5k and 10k runners who were listed as having finished the half-marathon. They got it fixed surprisingly fast considering I was 15th overall and I was originally listed as 269th overall so they had to go through over 200 participants listed in the wrong race! I finished 15th out of 504 overall, 3rd out of 312 women, and 1st out of 46 in my age group.
This race definitely had the coolest bibs I've ever seen!
Carter didn't want to stop running after he finished the mile fun run!

As far as the rest of the family goes, it sounded like there were a lot of mix-ups and mistakes with their races. Jeremy drove a different way to the aquarium than we did so he got stopped by police and had to park about a mile away, running to the aquarium, making it to the race start late. He still finished 6th overall and 2nd in his age group, finishing in 43:57. Dad missed a turn in the 5k and ended up running a total of 4.5 miles in 32:07. He was really disappointed because he was running right behind the guy who ended up winning his age group up until that point. At first I was shocked he missed a turn but then he explained that the 10k was going on at the same time and he just followed the wrong group so that made sense. That's the tricky part of starting all the races at different times, it gets a little crazy out on the course since they all run the same course. Even running all the extra distance, dad still placed 6th out of 17 in his age group. Thomas ran the race wearing an octopus mask he asked my mom to make him like Davy Jones in Pirates of the Carribean. He said it was nearly impossible to run in it as he could barely breathe but he still finished in 23:02, good for 5th out of 26 in his age group. Mom and Carter ran the mile fun run together. Mom said Carter made a little friend about his age and the only reason Carter walked was because his friend did so he stopped to walk and talk with him. Then as they neared the finish the other boy started pushing Carter and trying to knock him off the course so he could beat him. Mom got the boy to stop and Carter cruised past him to the finish line. So I'd say I had the least challenging race by far and I ran the farthest!

I had been talking the sea turtles up with my family all week and was so excited to go see them. We headed inside and were bummed about the food. In the past they've always had awesome post-race food. The first year I ran they had hamburgers and chips and each year since they've had breakfast burritos. This year they had croissants, cookies, and cupcakes, which none of us really wanted to eat. I was glad they had Powerade because I pretty much just filled up on two Powerades. Thomas took Carter into the aquarium and Jeremy and I followed. I was so glad I walked in at the same time as Jeremy because his reaction to the sea turtles was priceless. He couldn't believe their size and was just amazed by them asking questions and pointing out different things inside the exhibit. I was so happy and excited and couldn't stop smiling as I told him different facts about sea turtles. It was so neat to see him just completely amazed by how awesome they are in person. I had sent everyone pictures but it just doesn't do them justice. We had a lot of fun walking around the aquarium before Carter had a bit of a meltdown in the restroom because he asked the lady beside us not to use the hand driers while he was washing his hands because the loud noise hurts his ears (they have those crazy loud ones that dry your hands super fast), she did anyway and it was a total meltdown. So we ended up leaving but he was in better spirits by the end because we stopped in the gift shop to play with the puzzles they have out on a table for kids to play with. During the middle of the season Ty and I decided I probably shouldn't train for anything over a 10k in the spring again since I have so much trouble with my allergies, but after the awesomeness of this race, I'm already contemplating doing the half-marathon again next year with a lighter weekly mileage load.


  1. I've been waiting for this post all week! I love that you used the "Just smile the whole way" mantra. :-) I also love that you'd have won the 5K with your split from the half! I saw your mom's pictures on Facebook and the hat she made for Thomas was great! You did fantastic all-considered, and you've learned a lot to take on to next season and beyond.

    1. Using that mantra reminded me to have fun. It was perfect that it just popped into my head when I was struggling a little. Sorry it took so long to get the post up, I was waiting for the professional pictures from the race. I am actually glad I had this experience because it helped make me smarter. Now I know taking time to let your body recover is super important! Pushing through anyway is just silly!

  2. Actually, the boy Carter ran with had shoved him a couple of times and ran him off the course twice. He thought they were just playing so I told him Mateo wanted to beat him, and if we ran by him again he'd shove Carter, so we should sneak by. Carter said he'd use his Gekko invisibility, and Mateo wouldn't see him. Well, in his Gekko jacket of course he saw him, so when he started shoving Carter I told him that wasn't what we did in races, and Carter sped by. Then Uncie Taco ran by and yelled, "Go Carter!", and Carter beat the pants off Mateo. (His dad was trying to get him to quit shoving, too.)