Well, I am finally finding some time to sit down and compile my thoughts and feelings from race day this past Sunday. Unfortunately, there will be no photos right yet, because a) the official photos aren't out yet and b) my hubby's photos are with him, on his Iphone, at work. Sorry. Will add them to another post as soon as I can.
Due to some scheduling conflicts between this race and another major national race which happened to be scheduled on the same day, same route, our path got changed. As a result, we faced a LOT more hills than first expected. One around 15-16k was rumoured to be a killer, but I decided to not study up on the course in advance. I just didn't want to know what I was getting myself into.
So, after carb loading Saturday evening, I got to bed at a relatively early (for me at least) 11pm. Slept well, but woke up to my left knee being in pain. Bad news bears. I quickly tried to deal with it by putting a brace/tensor on and taking some ibuprofen. Seemed to get better, so I felt ok. I grabbed a quick breakfast of a bagel and PB, and focused on getting my race kit on. Going with the theme of having fun with my friend (who was supposed to wear her "Bride to be" sash), I decided to put together a cute sign for people to read/laugh at/smile about on the road, that said:
1st Half Marathon + 1st Wedding Anniversary = Best Husband Ever & Post-Run Cake!!!
I definitely got a few congratulations and one person ask me "Where is he then??" (he managed to say hi around 16-17k, and then saw me run in to the finish line. Lovely man.)
So my hubby and I managed to get downtown at a decent time, and I went to the set meeting point to meet up with my friend. Unfortunately, she was no where to be found, and I ended up moving to the corrals with two other acquaintances. At the VERY last minute, I found my running partner, and we got settled in. Suddenly, the largest BOOM I have ever heard in my life sounded, and I realized that the cannon signalling the start of the race had just been fired. Time to go!
The first 4k was great. Nice course, people were moving well despite there being major crowds everywhere. At around 5k, I realized that my running partner, who was supposed to be just aiming for under 2:30, was going way too fast. Looking down at my 2:25 pace band on my wrist, I realized we were ahead of it by at least a minute so early in. I knew I couldn't keep that kind of pace up for much longer, and by about 7k, I backed off and lost my friend in the crowd. I was a bit disappointed I no longer had anyone to run with, but I knew it was for the best for me.
Through until about 10-11k, I felt good. I remember looking down at my Garmin around 9k and being under an hour. GREAT. I took my first gel and kept going. Doing this in under 2:30 should be a piece of cake, right? Wrong. Somewhere in the wide open space between 11k and 14k, I lost my mental strength. My body tired and my stride shortened. I felt the need to fuel, get Gatorade, anything to keep me going. My mental wall was hit, I wasn't doing too well getting out of the funk. With no one beside me to urge me on, I felt like, what was the use? I looked down at my Garmin and saw my goals running away.
I had stopped to use the honey buckets, which I knew was probably just my body giving me a pseudo excuse to stop moving. While standing in line, one of the two acquaintances I saw at the beginning of the race ran by, looking concerned at seeing me. I had one of two options: give in to myself mentally and stay put, or catch up to her and try to use her as my personal pace bunny and race supporter.
That girl saved my race. She urged me on when I felt like I couldn't go any further, up the massive hill where I watched a young man lying unconscious, waiting for an ambulance. She told me I was doing great when I felt like I was barely moving. She set distances to go before walking. And we kept going. I felt like I was holding her back, but at the same time I was desperately trying to keep up with her pace. At around 18k, I looked down at my watch and saw it was almost 2:30. Mentally I knew I wasn't going to give up, but my B goal was gone. Time to readjust my mindset. I reset to 2:45, and said it had to be upright and smiling. I knew I could finish, and I pushed.
Those last 3 kilometers were SO LONG. There was a marching band playing some music, but between that and the final 100m or so, there were few supporters watching. I struggled and fell back from my friend, but always kept within 20m or so of her. Finally, she said we could see the finish line. Due to a curve in the road, I didn't see it until we were very close, and I decided to turn on the afterburners and give it all that I had. I sprinted across the finish line, and even managed to put my hands up in the air for a good photo finish (here's hoping!). I crossed the line with a time of 2:47:51, chip time 2:43:34. I placed 471/515 in my age/sex category, and 2279/2642 for the women.
Am I proud? Of my time, no. I refuse to find excuses for my time, like my knee was hurting, the course was so hilly, my feet felt like they were going to fall off. I have done better in training, and I am coming to realize that mentally, I don't seem to do well in races. I find that having so many people around me with faster paces is discouraging, and I don't find I have any boost from the elusive "race adrenaline" that everyone talks about. My brain just keeps telling me to stop. BUT I did finish, and I am very proud of that. My race buddy kept making comments like "you can make it" and I kept telling her I would cross the line no matter what. It was never a question of making it; I could never give up on the race that easily. I just wish I could find someone with similar goals to run with to get over the mental roadblock I face.
Post race injury inventory: Three blisters on my feet, despite wearing proper socks and body glide, one raw patch on the underside of one of the "ladies" and one very tender toenail, which may or may not decide to fall off in the future. I wear my war wounds proudly.
Would I do it again? I don't know. I don't think I would do it in a race without a running partner again. For now, I plan on focusing on 5 and 10k races (like my virtual 10k on 10/10/10!) and working on speed with those distances, before reconsidering the half marathon. But, I will never say never.
Sorry for the lack of photos, but I hope that this race report is good enough to hold you all over until the photos come in. My next scheduled run of any sort will be this Saturday, when I get up with my original running partner for this race (who ended up finishing with a PB of 2:22:10) for a 5k race before donning a bridesmaid dress and seeing her get married! Lots of excitement these days.
Will be back to post photos of running gear, race photos, and our disastrous cake later!