Wednesday, December 9, 2009

My half marathon race report

Thanksgiving weekend I did the Seattle Half Marathon. I thought I would share my race report with you!

First, a couple of things I wanted to write down right away so I would have them in my notes for next year:

1. I am not going to die during my taper. My body might feel like crap, my legs might feel like stumps, and I might feel like I'm getting a sore throat, but that is normal for me. I will be stressed to the max before the race, but everything will be fine. I am going to live.

2. Listen to my coachl, she knows what she is talking about. Trust her. (picture of me pretending to listen to her pre-race pep talk)

3. Follow my race plan. It was developed for a reason.

4. Only carry 3 Gu's, I really don't need any more.

5. Wear a short sleeve shirt. No matter how cold I am in the morning, if it's around 50 degrees I am only going to want to run in short sleeves.

6. Do not doubt my ability level. This ties is with number 1 and 2. I can do it if I have a positive attitude!

7. Do a proper warm-up, otherwise I will feel sluggish the first couple miles of the race.

8. Position myself at the race start as close to the front as possible! 5 minutes to get to the starting line is way too long!

RACE IN A NUTSHELL: My best race ever!!!! Even though I did not make my goal time, I felt great and I finally PR'd my half marathon time from the Seattle Half in 1999!

But let's start from the beginning. Grab a cup of coffee, get a gingerbread cookie and relax....

After taking a quick break after tri season, I really started focusing on my running. Hill repeats, tempo runs, speedwork. It was tough and exhausting. But it paid off and I had PR's in my 5K and 10K distances! This training continued up until the beginning of November. But when I started my two weeks of tapering, I began to feel like crap. Absolute crap. My left hamstring and calf were hurting and feeling very tight. My runs were terrible - they felt like I was going really hard, but actually only 11 min/miles. I did massage, acupuncture, chiropractor, and stretching (thanks Marianne!). Everything helped, but nothing solved the problems. After my Worse Workout Ever it was time to break out the big guns and see my PT. He determined my leg problems were actually caused by my back and hip, and lack of strength on the left side. The only hope before the race was to get my back loosened up. So three more trips to PT, two days of limited activity before the race, and things were as good as they were going to get.

I also had a bad attitude the week before the race. I had been stressed out because of something at work, and I could not shake the anxiety from that. So that just moved into pre-race anxiety. I was convinced that I had run too much during my taper and that my body was not going to cooperate and I was going to have to drop out of the race. This relates to Note #1 above. I was a bundle of nerves. And I knew I needed to relax and not worry, but I could not, which made me worry even more. And I was convinced I was not going to meet my goals for this race. My ultimate goal was to beat my PR time from 1999 of 2:03:something. And indicators showed I would beat this - based on my 10K time. But I was doubtful. My coach really thought I could beat 2 hours, which seemed like a real stretch for me. I thought this not only because my body felt like crap (and did I mention my throat hurt?), but it would mean taking 19 minutes off of last year's time. 19 minutes seemed impossible! Obviously, I really do need to work on being positive and believing in myself. See Note #6 above.

Packet Pick-Up - I invited myself to go along with some friends because I needed people to distract me from my stress. We got our packets, did a little shopping, and picked up a cool belt that would hold my gels from SPIbelt.


Race Day!!!!! I carpooled over with friends. We got to the race around 6:15, which seemed early for a 7:30 start, but gave us enough time to check our bags and meet my coach and the team for a quick chat. A big thanks to her for the course tips, advice, and a slap in the face for me to get me going! :-) She was a great cheerleader for me as a reminder that I can meet my goals because I've worked hard for them! We all had a good laugh about my pre-race panic, which did seem rather silly but deep inside I was still really afraid of failure. After a quick warm-up consisting of easy jogging for 15 minutes, we headed to the start. Now is the time to re-read Note #8 above.

I had positioned myself what seemed to be a decent way back based on my pace, but I need to remember that most people don't do this. It took me about 5 minutes to get to the start line, and then I had to pass a bunch of people. Luckily I jumped on the uncrowded sidewalk, so that helped.

I was hell bent to follow my HR plan (Note #3). Usually I get impatient, pick the pace up too early, and then burn out towards the end. But I felt so crappy I figured "What the hell, I have nothing to loose! And then I can blame my failure on someone else." Such a bad attitude! Mile 1 was at a little lower HR than I wanted to be at. I felt sluggish and slow. And I was slow. The first mile was at 9:45 - yikes! I won't make my goal at a 9:45 pace! But rather than panic and speed up, I made a mental note for next year to do the pick-ups during my warm-up I had planned to do but did not. Some running at race pace effort is good before you race! Note #7 for next year.

By mile 3 I was actually feeling really good and on the HR plan. Imagine that! Mile 4 I picked up my HR (as planned) and kept very steady for the next 6 miles. I still felt good! At mile 8 I looked at my actual time vs. under-two-hour goal time (written on my arm), and found I was about 4 minutes off. That seemed impossible to make up, and I was too scared to go off my HR plan to pick it up 2 miles earlier than planned.

I continued on, keeping a strong steady pace. I didn't hammer up the hills, but hammered down the hills, attempting to make up time there. And compared to last year, I felt FANTASTIC on the hills! Madison hill felt easy! And I felt so strong at the arboretum hill, where last year I thought I was going to die! My quote from last year "My legs were hurting and I felt like I was going to barf and pee my pants." I did not feel that way this year at all! I was tired, but felt good, and knew I would have enough energy to pick it up the last 3 miles.

At mile 10 I did a time check again, and was closer to my goal, but new it would be tough. The PR was within my reach, though! Once we got off the hill it was time to hit it! I found people I wanted to pick off - women running with her coach trying to motivate her, girl with pink headband with hands on top, dude in tights that looked like jeans - they were all mine! I saw two friends volunteering at an intersection near the end and high fived them as I went by, motivating me to work harder. I was so tired but kept pushing. Finally into the stadium.

Chip Time: 2:01:45! Yeah, a PR!!

I am so happy to have PR'd! My body held up well too! Thanks to my friends, family, coach and medical people who had to listen to all of my whining leading up to this!

I am done with serious training and racing for the year. Phew! Time to heal the body and have some fun!

1 comment:

sideofsneakers said...

Congrats on a great race!!