Posted by: Ingrid | April 30, 2012

Christie Clinic Half Marathon: Know when to fold ’em

First, the short story.  I finished in 1:35.24, good for 1 minute and 26 seconds better than my best time in October 2010.  I was sixth in my age group and the 21st women to finish out of 3906 women.  That is nothing to complain about, even though the long story reads like a really long complaint.

The long story begins with a dark and stormy night.

Well, sort of.  I mean, it really begins with me getting the stomach flu Sunday and then the Revenge of the Stomach flu on Wednesday night.  Followed by a five hour car trip with two small children and lots of my uncle’s homeade sourdough pizza on Friday.

Then it was a dark and stormy night.

The kids slept well, I slept well, but I knew it was supposed to rain in the morning and during the night I would wake up and see the shadowy fingers of trees thrashing about in the wind.  And the wind was still gusting at about 20 mph at 5:00 am.  I thought about not showing up for the race, but having paid the money, made the drive, and done all the leg work I couldn’t justify not running.  This race was over a year in coming, since I signed up last year and then had to defer because of injury.  But I was discouraged by the weather and sad that this almost guaranteed that I would not be running as fast as I thought I could.

I got ready, ate something, tried to dress appropriately for the weather and then we were off to the start.  I was still bogged down with discouragement and disappointment by 6:30 when I was trying to warm up.  I didn’t want to run.  I didn’t want to do anything.  There were so many people and I was sad and annoyed with myself for wasting my family’s time dragging them all down to Illinois so that I could run in bad weather.  I tried to shake some of the disappointment, after all, I got to run a half marathon!  I wasn’t in any pain!.  These were both good things.  In a flurry of last minute activity I found my way to Corral A barely in time for the wheel chair start.  I caught a glimpse of the pacer I’d met last night who was supposed to be holding a 7:04 pace the whole time.  Then, 7:00 and we were off.

Can I just say right here that it should be required that all pacers be tall?  This one was short and bald and I kept losing him in the crowd.  The marathon and half stay together for the first 12.5 miles, so there were a lot of people!  (Note to self: I prefer smaller races.)  My goal was to keep the pacer in sight.  Starting out I felt comfortable, until I realized we were only at a 7:25 pace.  The crowd thinned and we sped up.  And that was when I fell victim to one of the classic blunders, just behind  “never get involved in a land war in Asia” and “never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line” – I went out too fast.

I should have known, when my Garmin registered the first two miles as sub-7’s, that I couldn’t keep up.  The pacer was running faster than he’d said and that was just not a time I was ready for.  But I thought that maybe, if I could just hold on, I could still run that 1:32 I was hoping for.  By the time we hit the first hydration station and he didn’t slow at all, I was behind.  By the time I finished the first 4 miles at a sub-7 average I knew that the race I’d hoped to run was over.  But that was really hard to admit.  In fact, it took another two miles to admit that this was a whole different race now, and I needed to try to hold my 7:15 pace and forget about the original goal.  It was really hard to accept.

I had wanted to quit from about the half mile point, which, when you have 13.1 miles ahead of you, is not a good sign.  When we got to the top of a hill around mile 7 I saw an ambulance and I truly wondered for a moment what I could tell them so that I could stop but they wouldn’t make me go to the hospital or anything.  I couldn’t think of anything, so I kept running.

It was pretty open and windy between miles 4 and 9, as we ran through the neighborhoods and a park.  By this time I was far from the pacer and his group and on my own.  My ipod touch decided to go in reverse order (playing my least favorite songs first), and one of my headphones kept trying to jump out of my ear.  Plus, even though it was 45 degrees and windy, I didn’t need the long sleeved shirt under my t-shirt.

I was amazed at how discouraging it was to be passed rather than being the person passing.  Especially when I was passed by other women who seemed to have so much energy left and fat men.  I just felt like I had nothing.  I felt dehydrated and tired and like I had nothing to draw on.  I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and counting down the miles, the half miles, the quarter miles.  The last little bit seemed to take forever.  Somewhere on the course I managed to pick up an extra 0.2 miles (so unofficially my pace was 7:10 since I technically ran 13.3, right? :-P) and I felt that at the end.  There was a stadium finish, but by that time I wasn’t paying attention.  I got across the line and then just stood there in the wind, disappointed.

On a much more positive note, I thought that the race was well organized (especially for being as big as it is).  Everything ran on time, the corral start worked well.  Lots of people turned out to cheer and hold signs and the run itself is diverse; the campus, the town, open neighborhoods and a park loop.  It is not exactly flat, more like some gradual inclines and little hills, but it’s not crazy hilly or anything that should slow you down if you are prepared for your run.  They obviously know what they are doing with the planning and organization and do it well.

Several things I will keep in mind for next time.  Even though I swore after I finished that there won’t ever be a next time.

This is the kind of weather that one should ALWAYS expect for a spring run in the Midwest.

No more races where I have to go somewhere and spend the night (because I’d signed up for this one over a year ago and had to defer, I wasn’t planning on having to figure out the logistics of having two children with us).  I need to stay close to home both for cost and ease of transfer.

Do all of my tempo runs next time.  I only did about 5 of my tempo runs.  I think that on race day longer tempos would have been more beneficial than 1K and 800 meter repeats.

Do some longer runs (8-11 miles) at a fast pace.  I went slow on some of my long runs.  Now I wish I’d held a low 7 minute pace for some of those runs, just for practice.

I do have to remember though, that I just started running at the end of December, that I wasn’t cleared to really train until early February, and that I didn’t start doing any type of training until February 20.  With that in mind, I am very happy with the weekend and the run!

Also, they provide a great t-shirt and medal!

The female winner finished in 1:19.59.  That would be a six minute mile.  I still dream of running a 5K at that pace!

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Responses

  1. I think you need to turn the statement about your PR from “nothing to complain about” to a really great effort! Congrats on a PR. I know it wasn’t the race you were hoping for, for so many reasons, but it was still a PR! Hello! The way I’m running right now, I don’t feel like I’ll ever see a PR ever again.

    And you are very right about the kind of weather to expect in the spring in the midwest! I’m sure you miss racing in California!

    Great job, Ingrid! I hope you celebrated at least a litle!

    • Thanks, Greta! Yes, it took me a while (and my husband was very encouraging) to get to the point where I was celebrating, but I did get there eventually!

  2. I found your blog through piccolo pine cone. I did this race two years ago with the same kind of weather but I came down from Chicago so I thought the race was small! And I was doing the half but accidentally ran the marathon course. When I hit 14 miles and still wasn’t at the finish and people were cheering I was in second place, I knew I was in trouble. So your day could have been worse! Great job, especially considering you’ve just been training since February.

    • That sounds like such a funny story now, but I am sure that took some time. Did you finish the marathon? 🙂 I was VERY careful when it came to the marathon and half marathon split!

  3. Nice work Ingrid, congratulations on your PR!!! It’s great to not get a total win on the time you wanted…it’s so close though that it’ll keep you pushing to get past it…a nice “next” goal…happy running!

    • Thanks, Michelle! Now that I have a few days distance I am quite happy running a 7:16 pace when I was training for 7:15. I am less happy with myself for tacking on the extra 0.2 miles though! 🙂


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