Today (4/2/17) I ran one of my best races. It still feels surreal. After a very disappointing race in 2015, where the humidity and GI distress was nearly unbearable. And last year, I ran it “fun run” style on my 31st birthday with my husband. This year I can finally say:
I got a sweet PR (of over 3 minutes) on the hilly Raleigh course.
Third time’s a charm 🙂 Praise the Lord!!
Synopsis of the weekend from my Instagram account (since my phone is upstairs, I’m downstairs, and I am BEAT!)
Based on my recent races and training, race time predictors showed I should be able to run 8:10/mile for a 1:47 half marathon. Gulp. Considering my best half (from last year’s Brewsfest) had a pace of 8:30/mile, it felt like a big jump to drop 20 seconds per mile. Yesterday I started to have my doubts, and get psyched out. Especially after the 5K yesterday morning… my pace was an average of 8:15/mile. At first this felt very easy, but by the end, it did not–that worried me. Plus my training went really well, until this past week. I was in Mexico Monday – Wednesday for business, and missed my final training run Wed. morning in favor of sleep, after a late night Tuesday. That meant I didn’t run Wed – Friday, which felt weird and uncomfortable and made me anxious. I just needed to chill out about it!
After the 5K Saturday morning, I did my best to rest and not walk too much, but of course ended up walking to the Marbles Kids Museum, and taking the kids to the pool. The pool (and hot tub!) felt nice though. Especially after the 2+ hour nap we took. Well-deserved 😉 I was at WAY over 10,000 steps though.
Eating: I had a yummy lunch of pizza & waffles at La Stella, just down the street from the hotel. For dinner, we opted for the hotel (Marriott) buffet. Well, I did, the boys ordered from the menu 🙂 I had a salad, roasted cauliflower, chicken, and baked potato, and it seemed perfect for a pre-race dinner. My tummy was nice and happy–just the way I wanted prior to a big race. I had approximately 16 oz of water with Nuun tablet added last night, and went to bed around 8:30, since I needed to wake up at 4 AM to eat (3 hours prior to the race is my rule! Hasn’t failed me yet.)
Woke up (very slooooowly!) at 4:30 AM to down a large banana, 2 T. of peanut butter, and a slice of bread. Washed down with 12 oz of water + Nuun, and back to bed till 6. I was nervous, but thankfully fell back asleep for a little more rest. I even hit snooze at 6, then boogied to the shower to wake up and do my usual “good luck shave”–like anyone cares if my legs are smooth, I know it’s silly, but it’s my ritual. Thankfully I had everything laid out, so I got myself dressed and the boys too. I went with “the usual”: Oiselle tank, Asics shorts, Smartwool socks & undies, Athlete bra, iPod nano, Garmin vivoactive, 3 GU’s, and my fuel belt. I had doubts about bringing the fuel belt, but realized it gave me the ease of taking my GU’s (well, half a GU) every 2 miles like I wanted to. And it held my race number nicely. In the end, it worked out perfectly.
I felt strangely calm. The doubts still flickered in and out of my mind, but I did my best to “erase all doubt” and go into the race with a positive outlook. My stomach seemed great, I was hydrated and fueled, and at 6:40ish, we left the hotel room and ventured out. It was 49* or so, a tad on the cold side but perfect for running. There was a light wind too. I found Corral 2, and the 1:50 pace group. I introduced myself to the leader, Eric, and felt like that gave me good vibes. About 10-15 other runners hung out with the pace group at the start.
Soon enough, it was 7 AM and we were off!
I had a sweet sense of camaraderie and confidence going with the 1:50 pace group. I didn’t have to worry about pacing, which is a weakness of mine, and could focus on staying calm and running in the moment. I also used the pacer and other runners to block the wind a little 🙂
The first miles flew by and felt easy. Whew, what a relief! I did have a feeling that I had to pee, but thankfully it passed and when it returned, I just ignored it. The further along I got, the more I knew I’d be able to run at PR, so I told myself that stopping to pee would 1) mess up my time and 2) ruin my momentum. And it worked… I didn’t have to stop once!
I had forgotten about the Raleigh hills though… I struggled a bit up all the hills. The pacer and most of the group took them like champs, so I attempted to throw an imaginary lasso around them, and have them “pull” me up. The other pacer (Pat?) was very cheery and encouraging, like our own personal cheerleader, and I greatly appreciated it. The Peace St. hills were awful, but after we got through those (with my personal hill mantra: “Up & over this $^%&(*! hill“), we were already at mile 8, by NC State and the bell tower. My legs felt tired and heavy, but I also knew the worst of the hills were behind us. For a few moments, I relived my marathon from 2012, which ended on Hillsborough Street.
Around mile 9, I realized that I felt pretty dang good, and I remembered Kara Goucher’s word from the training plan: Cruisey. I tried to hang on to that “cruisey” feeling as long as possible. I had been running behind a guy with red compression socks, and he & I pulled away from the group around mile 10. My ten mile split was 1:22:50, a new PR for me 🙂 which of course, I celebrated!
OK, now for the last 5K. There was an uphill, the same from the 5K, and thru the Dorothea Dix area. I wished for the tribute to fallen Soldiers, from 2015, because it was so moving, inspiring, and awe-inducing–and naturally, absolutely heart-breaking. But without it, I continued to follow Red Socks, and we were soon at mile 12. I had been cruising, but several big hills in mile 12 set me back. I felt myself slowing, and screamed to myself, “Nooooo… you’ve come this far! Give it every ounce of effort!” There was a monkey on my back though, and I really had to suck it up and keep moving forward. My last helping of GU helped a bit, and I could hear the finish line area, so I knew we were close. Half a mile left. I picked it up the best I could, finally catching up with Red Socks guy, and we made the final few turns together. At last, we were looking down the street at the finish line. I didn’t bother checking my watch. The 1:50 pace group was nowhere to be seen, so I knew we were somewhere around 1:48. I was trying to see my family but couldn’t see them. I crossed the line, and there they were, exactly at the finish! I gave the Red Socks guy a high five, and maybe I said Good Job (can’t remember now) but we ran the whole thing together, more or less. I looked down and saw 1:48:10 (official was 1:48:04)… SWEET! I dropped nearly 4 minutes from last April. 3.6% faster. That felt really damn good. And I wasn’t as out of breathe as the end of last month’s 10K, so I know I could have pushed even more. I just didn’t want to be completely drained when I had already gotten a PR, and needed to drive to GA the next day.
I got some pics taken, then gathered my snacks, found the fam, got back to the hotel to shower, and drove home (with a stop at Bojangles cuz we couldn’t find anywhere else that wasn’t super crowded!)
Here’s my stats! Next up: the Spartan Sprint (which was today 4/9/17) with my co-workers 🙂