Today I ran the Grand Rapids Half Marathon. It was a well-run event on a very nice course; few hills, lots of scenery, and great post-race food.
I woke up Friday morning with a terrible sore throat and stuffed-up head. I was pretty worried that this was going to ruin the race for me and all the months of training that I've put in. Nothing to do but rest up, dose myself with meds and vitamin C, and wait.
We arrived on Saturday for the kids race - my kids collected 25 miles over the past 8 weeks, then ran the 1.2 mile event to complete their 'marathon.' They received shirts and nice medals and had a blast. I had an FE with Heidi, Neil, and Mary from the forums - it was great meeting them. I also ran into some local runners and my own brother with his girlfriend and some of their friends. My parents came in to cheer us on as well. It was fun!
A day in the swimming pool, a night out to dinner, and early to bed. I never sleep well the night before races, and this night was no exception. Around midnight, I searched thru my purse and lucked upon some Sudafed - the only thing that works for me on head colds but the meth dealers make the pseudophedrine stuff hard to get. At 3AM, I woke up and realized that my head was actually feeling ok. At 5:30, the alarm went off and I got ready to go. Met my dad in the lobby and he drove me to the race start (who else would get up so early for someone?). I was taking the early start for the 'velocity-challenged' runners, so my race started at 7am.
I had a few goals for this race: come in under 3 hours, come in before my brother (he was running the half as well but not taking the early start), and then a stretch goal of coming in between 2:40 and 2:45. I had pace bands for all 3 times printed out, but left them at home. I just had to run the best I could with what I had, head cold and all. My good friend John told me in a training run (where we ran 13.7 miles at a 12:12 pace, stopping the watch for bathroom and drink breaks) that I had to get it out of my head that I was a 13mm runner; this gave me so much confidence and my training since then has proved it. I tweaked the Higdon intermediate plan and ran 5 days a week, peaking at 30mpw. I got great advice from the forums and changed my intervals from 400's to 800's. I got comfortable with running at uncomfortable speeds. I am 40 pounds lighter than when I ran my first 5k in 40:00 in May. I ran a hilly 10-mile Crim in August in 2:17. So here's how the race went down:
Mile 1: 12:14 right on pace. Feeling great! No sign of a head cold. Happy that the day is here and grateful that John came to the start line early to see me off. Saw Heidi again too!
Mile 2: 12:24. Hey did I mention it's still dark out? Yeah and I am wearing sunglasses. Still feeling good. Running thru the business district of Grand Rapids.
Mile 3: 14:39 . First porta-potty stop. Luckily there is no line and I take care of business as quickly as possible. The sun starts rising and it's lovely. Also, taking the early start is awesome because I am passing everyone. I use my first Gu.
Mile 4: 11:54 Trying to make up the time lost in the porta-pot. Too bad the RD won't stop the race clock when I go to the bathroom!
Mile 5: 11:56 This is the highlight of the day - my dad surprises me by being on the side of the course and jumps in to run half of this mile with me.
Mile 6: 12:31 Entering a park area and another potty stop. Seriously. No line again so it was quick. Suddenly ravenous. Eat Gu chomps for food rather than energy.
Mile 7: 11:17 The park is nice, lots of mist or fog. Why so fast? No idea.
Mile 8: 12:41 That fast mile is catching up to me. Left hammy getting angry. 4 miles to go!
Mile 9: 12:45 Just realized the bad math I did in mile 8 and now I have 4 miles to go. Less encouraged now that I feel like I am running an extra mile. Eat rest of Gu chomps to see if that gives me a boost.
Mile 10: 12:27 Total time now 2:04; with my 1-hour head start, the fastest of the half runners have passed me - these guys are running 5 and 6mm. I don't mind the eye candy that I get treated to at this point. I also see the 1st female finisher - she's in my AG and finishes in 1:24.
Mile 11: 12:05 This part of the course loops back and I cross the other runners who are on mile 6 or so. I see Heidi and she is looking great.
Mile 12: 12:29 Really wanting to walk at this point. I debate and do bad math. Finally figure out that I can finish under 2:50 if I keep running. I keep running.
Mile 13: 10:54 My kids, husband, and parents are on this corner cheering me on. I *so* needed the pick-me-up. How awesome that they are all here, 2 hours from home, to support me! (and my brother but whatever) I finish this mile with all I've got - my first sub-11 mile ever.
After seeing them:
Final .1 (or .26 of the garmin): 2:53 (10:59 pace). Oh I am struggling but I will not slow down. It hurts and I keep running. The crowd is cheering me on and it really helps. I am crying with the struggle to keep running; that finish line seems so so far away. I can't imagine what people saw but I clearly needed the cheers. The announcer calls my name as I come down, and that's a first for me - really neat. I finished this race with every last drop of whatever I had left, sobbing and crossing that mat just as it clicks over to 2:43. Several volunteers ask me if I need help. I had to keep walking and can barely get it together. A medal, a 13.1 sticker, a space blanket. I am a mess but in a really good way. Then I hear my brother's name get called and how cool - I finished just minutes before him. Yeah I had a 1-hour head start, but he's 10-years younger, in great shape, and has been running for several years.
Chip time: 2:42:31 (12:17-garmin- or 12:24 pace). Beer and chili in the finishers tent. Nab ice cream for my kids who have been dealing with this race for a couple of hours by now. Full runners start coming in. Cheer other finishers on for quite awhile. See Neil who rocked his half and must have finished within minutes of me (gotta love that head start!). See some really bloody nipples owie. My brother's girlfriend does not BQ as she had hoped and that's a bummer. Cheer runners until my children cannot handle it anymore and we have to leave before they kill each other. Shower and go to a local bar for the Bears game. They lose. Head cold comes back with a vengeance. Drive home 2 hours and happy happy sore sniffling happy.
Really nice medal and an awesome long sleeve tech shirt.
Text #1 received from my mom: Can't believe you ran 13 miles today. We r so proud of you! (Thanks Mom, I can't believe it either!)