Well, I did it. I ran my 2nd half marathon today and even though I missed my previous half marathon time by about 3 minutes, it was a good experience.
Travis and I left our house to drive up to Boulder (about 45 minutes away) around 5 am. The half started at 7 am and the 10K started at 7:30. I did not sleep well at all last night – partly because of jitters and partly because I had a lot of weird dreams and it was too warm. So it wasn’t as hard as I had expected to get up at 4:15 – it was actually sort of a relief because I didn’t have to force myself to sleep anymore.
We got up to the Boulder Reservoir around 6 and went to pick up our packets. I was really excited when I saw the race shirts – they are REALLY cute. It is definitely a great race shirt. We also got a water bottle, socks, and a running hat – score! After picking up our packets and timing chips, we went back to the car to put on our timing chips and bibs and discard our sweats. Around 6:30, we headed back over to the finish line area to meet our friends D and Doug and to use the portapotties. We ran around a bit to warmup (though it was more for me than Travis, since his race started later) and I stretched.
About 10 minutes before 7, I realized I needed to pee again – so I hurried over to portapotties and got back with plenty of time to walk over to the start line, which was about 500 yards away. After saying goodbye to D, Doug and Travis, I went and stood toward the back of the pack, waiting for the start.
And then I realized that I had to pee again. When the announcer said it would be another 5 minutes before the start, I hustled over to the portapotty about 300 feet away. But 4 other guys had the same idea before I did and I was nervous about missing the start so after about a minute, I gave up and went back to the start line. The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized I should really go and when the line had disappeared and we still weren’t starting, I decided it was worth the risk so I ran back over to the portapotty. I was in and out quickly and I made it back to the starting line with a few minutes to spare. Whew!
Finally, we were off. The part of the pack where I was running actually thinned out a decent amount in the first 1/4 mile so I was running my goal pace of 11:30 almost from the start. My legs felt decent – not amazing but not heavy either. I was running at a comfortable pace and when I got to mile 1, I looked at my watch: 11:37. Not bad but I had to pick up the pace a little if I was going to make my goal. So I did and got to mile 2 at 22:45, a little fast so I tried to slow down just a bit. I was right on target at mile 3, but then miles 4, 5 and 6, I fell behind my goal pace by about a minute.
All of the aid stations seemed to very well-supplied and there were a TON of volunteers (having the job I do coordinating volunteers for triathlons, I was in awe of the abundance) but since I brought my Camelbak filled with water and my shotbloks, I didn’t take advantage of anything at the aid stations – I’m glad that I brought my Camelbak because I didn’t have to walk at all to drink water.
With 7 miles down and 6 to go, I calculated that if I ran an 11:20 pace for the remaining miles, I could still finish in 2:30. And for miles 8, 9 and 10, that worked. By the time I reached mile marker 10, I was right at my goal pace of 11:30.
But the last 3 miles were killer. I felt ok during mile 11 – the heat was starting to get to me (it was probably in the lows 80s) and I was starting to really get hungry. But I was pushing through it, even calling out to those who were walking to say they could do it – less than 3 miles!
My enthusiasm ended when I reached mile marker 11. I just wanted to be done. My knee was hurting (had been since mile 4), I was utterly exhausted and I so wanted to walk. But I kept reminding myself that “Pain is temporary. Quitting is forever.” So I am proud to say that I didn’t walk at all.
But I did finish the race a bit slower than I had wanted because there was absolutely no way I could pick up the pace during those 2 last miles – I barely had enough energy to sprint the last 100 feet to the finish line and when I tried, my knee screamed NO so I just sped up a little toward the finish line. My final time according to my watch was 2:33:25. My chip time was 2:33:10. And my official time was 2:33:50. I don’t understand the discrepancy but I think I’ll go with my chip time – I forgot to turn my watch off right when I crossed the finish line, so I think that’s more accurate anyway. 🙂 Regardless, my pace was about an 11:45/min mile. That is pretty much the pace I trained at so I feel like this was a pretty good run for me.
After I crossed the finish line, Travis came over to give me a big hug and say he was proud of me. I grabbed a popsicle (which was great) and a warm bottle of water (not so great) and stretched as I talked to Travis, D and Doug about how my race had gone and found out about theirs. Travis ran the 10K in 48:50 (10th in his age group and 50th out of 500!) and Doug ran it in 1:08 something. Very proud of them.
I was absolutely starving so after I finished my popsicle, I went in search of the sausage breakfast sandwiches the race organizers had advertised online. Unfortunately, I discovered that they had brats instead, which I’m not a huge fan of. So I settled for 1/2 a bagel and 2 oreos – which doesn’t seem like much when I had just burned 1,650 calories but with running, I’m usually more hungry the day after than right after. I had grabbed a small granola bar too but I made the mistake of eating something really sweet (the oreos) after a physically taxing activity. For some reason, my stomach revolts when I do that. So I ended feeling slightly sick for next couple of hours but we still went to Einstein Bros Bagels so I could get my breakfast sandwich – spinach, mushroom, egg and swiss on a plain bagel – and some fruit (they had apples, oranges and bananas at the finish line, but I just didn’t feel like any of those). I ate my breakfast sandwich, even though I still didn’t feel the greatest. My stomach actually didn’t feel right until about 2 pm.
Surprisingly, I’m not as bothered about missing my goal time as I thought I would be. I think that’s mostly because I raced smartly today. I went out at my goal pace (not being overly optimistic about how fast I could finish), I pushed myself in the middle when I could, and I didn’t let myself walk, even though I wanted to so badly.
Nonetheless, in light of my larger marathon goal, this race has made me realize 2 things: 1) I really need to do something about my knee – running a marathon will not be possible if my knee doesn’t get better. 2) I don’t think it’s entirely realistic to finish the marathon in under 5 hours. That can be my stretch goal but based on this finish time and according to the McMillan calculator, a more realistic goal would be to finish in 5:23. So I think I will have to amend my goal – I will still run as fast as I can but let’s be honest – it’s still just not that fast.
I have thought about changing my blog title to “The Ambitious Turtle: I’m Not Fast But I’m Determined!” Kidding aside, I’m really trying to not let my slowness bother me. Not everyone can be fast and instead of letting my lack of fastness deter me from challenging myself physically like I do through running and triathlons, I’m going to go out there, hold my head high, and be proud that I have the perseverance, discipline, and courage to be a long-distance runner and a triathlete.
Travis and me before the race
Travis finishing strong
Deliriously happy after crossing the finish line
Stretching while talking to D and Doug
Enjoying my popsicle