Sunday, January 13, 2013

"Race report" - Sandy Hook Elementary Memorial Virtual Half Marathon

My plans for this weekend started to take an interesting turn on Wednesday evening.  My Pennsylvania running friends, Becca and Jen (the ones I'm running the Disney Princess Half with in 6 weeks.  Just 6 more weeks!!), were planning on getting together to run their first 12 mile training run on Saturday morning.  An offhand "wish you could run with us!" got me thinking.  At first I figured there was no way - While Pittsburgh's not far away, it's not close either, and I just didn't think it was feasible to spend seven-eight hours total in the car just to run a few miles.  But they had their 12 miles, and I was planning to run the Sandy Hook memorial miles this weekend so I had 13.1 to do. 

And what's more fun than running long runs with company?  Not much. 

And spending time, even a small amount, with two of your best friends is priceless.

So the thought just wouldn't leave my head.  Thursday morning was spent figuring out how to work in a quick trip to the 'Burgh while still managing to get all the stuff that I needed to do done.  By the end of my lunch hour on Thursday, the plans were made.

Sometime on Friday, Becca started to get all philosophical on us.  The following (and I hope she'll forgive me for quoting her without asking first) are her very well-spoken thoughts :
"We are also (I think unless someone tells me differently) counting this toward our sandy hook half marathon. I think this is the perfect run for that because it will be hard for me and Jen at least so it's perspective setting to think about all of the pain that was created that day when we are feeling the pain from the long run. 
On that note I'll go philosophical for a second. Everyone has days that aren't great and we sometimes have some physical pain or mental anguish but events like that remind us that in the grand scheme of things days like that really aren't as bad a they seem at the time. Life can change in a second. Whatever our personal struggles are we should look to find the positive in each situation and enjoy what is there because tomorrow you may long for the troubles of today."
With those thoughts in mind, we set out Saturday into the foggy slightly chilly morning to run our miles.  We ran along and across the river(s), through the city streets, and all around.  At about mile 7 (the furthest I've run at one time since November), my legs started to hate me - they were definitely starting to get cranky and achy. I was feeling the pain of distance, and so were Becca and Jen.  Our mantra became "this pain is temporary" as we fought our way through the miles. But fight we did.  And we finished.
The women who started this run were not the same women who finished it.  Jen & Becca were only setting out to do 12, but Becca and I decided we would add the extra 1.1 to get us to the full half.  (And yes, Jen you ran the 13.1 too.  You stopped your watch for a bit, remember?)  We started as runners.  We finished as half-marathoners. 
It was hard, it hurt, there may have been some tears. But we were strong and persevered.  I think we had 26 angels helping us along.  

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Race Report - Winter Series 8k

My first race of 2013, the Winter Series 8k, went way better than I thought it would.  (good sign for the rest of the year?? let's hope so!)

I had a rough December on the running front (rough as in didn't run a step for the last 2 weeks of the month), so I knew this was going to be a tough race - a 2 week backward step in fitness level was definitely not ideal for going into a race.  If I learned anything in 2012 when it comes to racing goals, it was that I can't expect fantastic results from work I didn't do.  So my only goal was to finish in an upright position.

Before the race, Marc and I were discussing my finish time.  He predicted 48 minutes (which, at one time, actually was my goal).  But knowing where I was with my fitness/running ability, I figured it would, on the highly optimistic side, take me 53 to 55 minutes, but in truth I was really expecting it to take an hour or more.

While waiting for the race to start, I must've changed the settings on my Garmin 4 times.  At first I was thinking I'd attempt to run the whole way.  Then I changed my mind and decided I needed to set run walk intervals.  Then I thought, "no, it's a relatively short race I don't need intervals I'll run the whole way."  Then I thought, "I'm not ready to run straight through; I think I'll end up with a faster time if I run/walk."  "I can run this sucker!"  "If I want to finish, I need to run/walk."  It was like I had the little angel and devil on my shoulder arguing in my ear...

I ended up with a run/walk interval of 4:1, and it was the perfect choice.   I could run hard without the feeling like I was making a huge mistake, because I knew the rest period would be coming fairly soon.  I recovered well on the walks. But even with the walks, I still got tired and had to slow down the runs for the last 2 miles.

I left the watch on the interval time screen, so while I was running I didn't know exactly how long it was taking me.  I had no clue how fast (or how slow) I was actually going, and believe it or not, it felt good.  No pressure to pick up the pace to finish under a certain time.

At least not until I was in sight of the finish line and the time clock.  When I saw what the clock said, I was shocked.  I was under my "highly optimistic" possible finish time!  In order to keep it that way, I dug deep and sped up just enough that I crossed the finish in 52:32 (garmin time)!! Yes!!  A great way to start my racing year!  Here's hoping for more good things to come!

Race Stats:
Winter Series 8k
Finish time:  52:32 (garmin); 52:35 (official)
Pace per mile:  10:34mpm (garmin)
Place:  278 of 366